04th Mar2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 3/4/16

by Will

BeFunky Collage3416

oie_922142seDasWF9

Howdy, folks! I took a week off because there was just too much going on in “real life”, but I’m back in style. We’ve got a lot to talk about this week, so let’s get to it!

diary-of-a-wimpy-kid-rodrick-rules

On the movie front, I found myself watching the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies. Lindsay had them on, and I caught the tail end of the first one. I liked it so much that I sat and watched the second one, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. If you’re not familiar with the series, it’s based on the HUGELY successful kids book series, and follows middle schooler Greg Heffley and his struggles. In the first movie, Greg and his best friend Rowley join the safety patrol in order to become popular. Yeah, that goes about as well as you’d expect. In the second movie, Greg and his older brother, Rodrick, despise each other. But when they’re left home together and throw a party, they have to lean on each other to keep their story straight. Meanwhile, Greg is still trying to be popular in middle school, and falls for the new girl in town. I actually really liked these movies, and I’m curious to check out the final film, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. I was too old for the Wimpy Kid books when they came out, but I’ve always wondered why they resonate so well with middle schoolers. After watching the movies, I think I get it now. If you like innocent fun, or have a middle schooler in your house, I highly recommend this franchise.

F is for Family

On the Netflix front, I finally finished F is for Family. Considering I only had one episode to go, I’m not quite sure why it took me, like, 2 months to finish it, but here we are. Created by comedian Bill Burr, it’s basically an edgier King of the Hill. I really enjoyed the series, but it felt a bit disjointed to rejoin it so long after watching the first 5 episodes, as it was clearly made to be binged. I hope it gets a second season but, unlike most Netflix shows, this one kinda flew under the radar, with little promotion.

realoneals

On TV, The Real O’Neals debuted on ABC, and I really enjoyed it. It’s about an Irish-Catholic family whose perfect veneer cracks when all of their drama becomes public during a church bingo game. The parents are getting a divorce, one son comes out of the closet, the other son has an eating disorder, and the daughter has a bunch of stuff going on. And hilarity ensues! No, really. I felt like the show was pretty funny, and seemed like a natural fit for ABC. After Raising Hope, Martha Plimpton has really carved out a niche of “working class wife and mother”, and she’s great in this show. The marketing seems to be making the gay son the focus, but it really plays more like an ensemble show. Its moral is that family can overcome anything. I find the scheduling to be somewhat worrisome, though. While it debuted with 2 episodes on Wednesday, it will eventually move to Tuesdays, following Fresh Off The Boat.  I feel like The Middle and The Goldbergs are better companion shows for this one, but I also know how precious Wednesday night real estate is for ABC. Modern Family ain’t moving, and I think Black-ish has pretty much earned its timeslot at this point. I guess time will tell.

esq-girls-hbo-cast-041312-lg

I’ve also found that I’m back to hate-watching Girls. Why, oh why, do I watch this show? I hate everyone involved with it except for Peter Scolari and Allison Williams (and I still can’t look at her without thinking of her father’s fall from grace). It’s hard to stomach Lena Dunham’s female empowerment shtick when her character Hannah Horvath sucks so much at life. I mean, is she a role model for people? Yeah, I’m having a hard time separating the actor from the role. I don’t expect that everyone should even be a role model, but I feel like there are people out there who look up to her. WHY? And I really don’t need to see her naked anymore. You can call me a body shamer, but it just makes me sick to my stomach at this point. I could just stop watching. I get that. But I still have a morbid curiosity about the whole thing.

power-rangers_612x380In movie news, we got our first cast picture of the cinematic Power Rangers team. Filming has begun, as someone posted a picture of an Angel Grove Police cruiser online. I dunno what it is, but I’m getting a Divergent vibe from this film. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re both from Lionsgate. Or the fact that every teen action movie lately is basically Divergent/Hunger Games/The Maze Runner. Or the fact that the director was also behind Project Almanac. I just feel like it’s gonna be “teen angstier” than it needs to be. I mean, read this from Entertainment Weekly: “The new Power Rangers is a coming of age story for these “disenfranchised and disparate” high schoolers, who are not friends when the new story begins.” NO! I don’t need a Power Rangers team composed of a bunch of outcasts and outsiders. That’s not..breathe, Will. I’m reserving judgment on this thing until I see more, but I don’t like how it’s shaping up right now.

ghostbusters

So, the Ghostbusters trailer came out yesterday. I liked it. I wasn’t wowed by it, but I think it shows promise. Of course, the folks who were against it from the get-go are even more against it now. I think it swayed folks who are on the fence, but it didn’t do anything for the ones who have been against it from the very beginning. I have a long history with the Ghostbusters franchise. I have the Firehouse playset in my mom’s basement. I have the Proton Pack. Let’s just say that I loved me some Ghostbusters. That said, I think I’ve been more of a fan of the cartoon, The Real Ghostbusters, than I was of the movies. I’ve been an unorthodox fan of the movies, as I don’t feel the first one is the sacred cow that some think, and I personally like the second one more (sacrilege!). So, when they announced a new movie, it didn’t really hurt me. When they announced it would be directed by Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy, I was ready to surrender my money. The trailer, however, was kinda meh to me. I mean, I’ll still see the movie, but it didn’t get me any more excited than I already was. Some folks are upset that Leslie Jones’s Patty Tolan is an MTA worker instead of a scientist, but I think it works for her. I don’t see Leslie Jones as an actress who’s gonna play anything far from who she really is, so I’m fine with what she’ll bring to that type of role. Still, haters gonna hate. I’m OK if you don’t like the idea of the movie. I get that. Sacred cow and all that. But at least give it a chance before you judge it, right?

agent carter

This week saw the season (series?) finale of Marvel’s Agent Carter. It’s up in the air because it really doesn’t seem like ABC is gonna renew it. The ratings for this season were even lower than those from last season. It also doesn’t help that star Hayley Atwell has landed the lead role in the pilot for ABC’s Conviction. Sure, she could film Agent Carter once Conviction goes on break (IF it’s picked up as a series), as Agent Carter is more of a mideseason fill-in than a full season show. While there was a cliffhangery aspect to the finale, it ended on a note where we could be satisfied if this truly is THE END. Plus, the character keeps popping up in Marvel films even when she doesn’t need to (Ant-Man, anyone?), so it’s surely not the last we’ve seen of her. Meanwhile, ABC renewed 8 shows yesterday, including Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I doubt we’ll have any news on Agent Carter before the May upfronts.

finn as iron fist

 

Speaking of Marvel television, during my little hiatus, it was announced that Finn Jones from Game of Thrones has been cast as Iron Fist in the upcoming Netflix series. *Sigh* I really didn’t want to get into this, but I guess there’s no time like the present, right? Anyway, I’m part of an online collective called The Nerds of Color, but I don’t really write for them anymore because nobody reads my stuff over there. It was created by a former coworker of mine, Keith Chow, and it originally contained a couple of friends of mine until they were deemed too controversial. In any case, Keith wrote an article about 2 years ago, pleading with Marvel to cast an Asian American in the Iron Fist role.

iron fist

If you unfamiliar with the character, Iron Fist is the heroic identity of Danny Rand, a rich White guy who grew up in the mystical city of K’un-Lun after he was orphaned in a plane crash. Rand learns all the kung fu, and gains the magical power of the Iron Fist. He returns to New York, and becomes the best friend of Luke Cage, AKA Power Man, with whom he forms the Heroes for Hire. So, basically you’ve got this blonde guy who’s a martial arts expert, in a mystical Orientalist society, making him a fish out of water. I always thought that made the character unique. At the same time, though, it’s problematic because it basically means this White dude is better at Asian stuff than actual Asians. While I wouldn’t necessarily cast him in the “White Savior” role, it does seem a bit…off. Still, I always kinda rolled it into the “that’s what makes his character special” argument.

Keith argues that you could keep all of these aspects while still casting an Asian American as Rand. His main push for this is the matter of representation. It would mean a lot to Asian American viewers to see themselves represented in the Marvel Universe. He argues that Rand could be alienated from his Asian culture, which would help him to retain his position as an outsider. If you want to know more, just read the post. In all, Keith has a valid argument and I can see where he’s coming from. That said, I don’t like it.

There’s more to representation than just showing up to the party, and I feel like that’s what would be happening here. It’s changing a race merely for the sake of change. Even if it gives the character more depth, does it, then, remain the same character? Danny Rand isn’t that deep. If they cast an Asian American, then the argument would be “Why is he so vapid? Why doesn’t he reflect the best of us?” On top of that, you run into issues with the whole “look at the Asian who’s great at kung fu” thing. In a lot of ways, you’re reinforcing a stereotype for the sake of representation. My friend James took offense to some representation in a reboot of Firestorm a few years back. Sure, the new Firestorm was Black, but there’s also a scene with him in a chicken suit. To James, that cost of representation was too high. I feel that way here. Sure, you get another (definitely sorely-needed) Asian American on television, but at what cost? It certainly isn’t really changing many minds about what they’re capable of. The argument screams “We own kung fu, so we should be the only ones depicted doing it”, but we live in a time and world of cultural appropriation. Nothing belongs to anyone anymore. Ask Eminem and Adele. So, to me, there’s nothing special about an Asian American who knows kung fu. I’m sorry to say that, but if you didn’t know anything about me other than the fact that I’m Black, would you be surprised if I could rap? Probably not. Stereotypes are a bitch like that.

sam jackson nick fury

At the end of the day, though, I just hate change. Sure, you could say that it’s been done before with Samuel L. Jackson and Nick Fury, but even that is a trickier situation. There was some source material for that (The Ultimates comic), so it sort of “cushioned the blow”, so to speak. The Ultimate Universe was a different reality, and in that one, Nick Fury just happened to be Black. If they had made Ultimate Iron Fist an Asian American, I’d probably get behind it. I guess I just have issues with the live action going their own way without cues from the comics. Even the comics make stupid race decisions sometimes, like introducing a random ass Black character who suddenly turns out to be Nick Fury Jr., just so all the comics kinda match the movies. That was a hamfisted move, and as nuanced an argument as Keith makes, casting an Asian American as Iron Fist, in some sort of attempt at cultural reclamation, also feels hamfisted. I’ve been quiet because I really didn’t have an intelligent rebuttal. All I had to go on was how I felt. My problem, however, was that The Nerds of Color never issued a counterpoint. #AAIronFist became the rallying cry of the site, so it was pretty much assumed that if you were with them, then you were with them. Now, since the news broke, people are talking about how disappointed they are in Marvel, and even saying they’re boycotting the show. Look, everyone has drunk the Marvel Kool-Aid by this point. It doesn’t matter if Iron Fist is purple, you’re gonna at least watch the first episode to see what it’s all about. At this point, I feel like it was a valiant effort, and I applaud everyone for their hard work, but I believe it’s time to move on and give Finn Jones a chance. Not a sermon, just a thought.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Disney announced a Big Hero 6 series for DisneyXD from the Kim Possible creators
  • Nickelodeon announced a TV movie based on the Legends of the Hidden Temple game show. I only saw this thing in hotels (no cable), so I’m not quite sure why everyone loves it so much.
  • The Baywatch film, which is being described as “Avengers meets Anchorman“, has added David Hasselhoff to the cast in an unknown role.

fuller-house-1024

Everywhere you look, folks were talking about it this week. That’s right: Fuller House debuted last Friday to horrible reviews. But that didn’t matter, because folks ate it up anyway. It did so well, that a second season has already been greenlit just a week after its premiere. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Fuller House is an update to the TGIF mainstay of the 80s and 90s, Full House. In the original, widower Danny Tanner was raising his 3 girls with help from his brother in law and best friend. In this sequel series, oldest daughter, DJ Fuller (née Tanner) is a widow herself, and her sister and best friend help her to raise her 3 boys. I’m only 4 episodes in, but I’ve got thoughts. Come along with me, will you?

  • Jodie Sweetin, Jodie Sweetin! Never has a former meth addiction looked so good. I know every website and Tumblr has been enamored with her breasts over the last week, so I won’t go that route. I’ll just say I was begging for another season just for more Jodie.
  • Critics wanna bash the show, but clearly they forgot that the original series wasn’t exactly Waiting for Godot. It was a cheesy, saccharine show – the kind critics have NEVER liked. That was the plight of the entire TGIF lineup. As hard as they worked, they never go the recognition of other sitcoms.
  • As much as people are loving Jodie Sweetin, I was glad to see Andrea Barber. See, I always kinda had a crush on Kimmy Gibbler. They always tried to paint her as gross, with smelly feet and all that, but I wasn’t buying it. I think it’s because she always had that “Yeah, she’d probably date a Black guy” vibe to her. I guess the producers saw that, too, as her ex-husband on the show is Latino (close enough!).
  • LOVE the updated theme song. Glad to see that Carly Rae Jepsen will be remembered as more than just the “Call Me Maybe Girl”
  • I was kinda disappointed in the decision they’d made with Danny’s new wife. If you followed the casting call, they were reportedly looking for an “Attractive, vivacious and youthful African American woman in her 40s”. That made me think they were going the Niecy Nash route. I mean, could you imagine Danny Tanner married to a Black chick? Nope! And that is EXACTLY why I wanted to see it. Instead, they went with Latina actress Eva LaRue. I used to LOVE her about 20 years ago, when she was making the crappy UPN sitcom rounds.
  • Unlike a lot of sitcoms, I like the kids – especially Max. They feel like kids, and not little adults trapped in kid bodies (I’m looking at you, Girl Meets World).
  • Speaking of the kids, Ramona Gibbler is an interesting character, as she’s the first time hamfisted diversity has been introduced to the Full House universe. Sure, Michelle had a bunch of halfy friends, like Denise and Teddy, but it was never dealt with like “I’m White, and they’re Black”. They just were. Eager to embrace her Latin side, early in the season Ramona comments that the Fullers are the Whitest family around. Yeah, the Tanners/Fullers always have been, but it didn’t seem “in universe” to ever bring attention to that.
  • It was nice that they got back the original Nicky and Alex. Man, the Twin gods did not shine brightly upon them!
  • Joey was married (check the ring), but never mentioned his wife and/or kids. I’ll need to know more about them next season.
  • Isn’t it nice that everyone got to pursue their dreams? Danny and Rebecca are about to have a nationally syndicated morning show (the current climate for those doesn’t indicate success, but whatever), Jessie is the music director for General Hospital, and Joey’s got a Vegas residency. Couldn’t, like, one of them be struggling? Well, I guess they had to write them out of the main show somehow.
  • I know we’ve had over 20 years to kinda hate Dave Coulier, especially after The Surreal Life and the Alanis Morissette drama, but it doesn’t feel like he has “it” anymore. Like, when he was doing his voices, I felt the same kind of sad for him that I feel when Michael Winslow still tries to do sound effects. It’s like “Awww, bless his heart!”
  • Finally, I don’t miss Michelle. Never liked her. Sure, it was OK to have the occasional “You got it, dude”, but she Urkeled that show into the ground. So, I’m not disappointed that she didn’t come back. It was interesting that they had the whole in-joke about it in the first episode, but I’m just fine with her focusing on her “fashion empire”.

Anyway, as I said, I’m only 4 episodes in. I’ve got another 9 to go, but so far I like what I see. They don’t really make television like this anymore, and Netflix is the perfect home for it as it wouldn’t fit on today’s broadcast networks. It’s too sweet and sappy for primetime, but it’s too adult for Nick/Disney (there’s a semen joke in the premiere). So, I’m glad that Netflix exists for these shows that are a bit outside the box. I look forward to the next 4 and a half hours, and I look forward to next season. So, for that, Fuller House had the West Week Ever.

*credits roll*

Best Boy – Some Dude

Gaffer – Another Dude

Key Grip – A Third Dude

*more credits*

 

Still here? Great. Well, I want to have a discussion about sharing. You see, views and likes are nice, but when you don’t share posts, you’re being selfish. To put it in Sunday school terms, you’re hiding it under a bushel. Don’t you want to let it shine?! Surely you have friends who might enjoy some of these ramblings, right? I know you do. Like Greg. Greg would LOVE this post, and you know it! Shares are the lifeblood of sites in this day and age, and we can’t really survive without them. So, like I always say, “Likes are nice, but shares are cares.” Thanks for your time 😉

2 Responses to “West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 3/4/16”

  • Interesting recap this week. I tried Fuller House with my fiance because she liked Full House as a kid. I’ve never seen Full House. I was overwhelmed by all the characters. We only made it about 5 minutes before she was like, “Okay, that’s enough.”

    I have opinions on Iron Fist but I’ve decided it doesn’t help anyone to hear what a white guy thinks about the issue. I’ll just hope the show is entertaining. And that Marvel introduces a prominent Asian into their cinematic universe soon.

  • I guess I don’t understand why “no one wants to hear what a white guy” has to say about the issue. Perhaps it’s a bit too “white guy” to point this out, but I think white people should be able to have a voice on issues like this, particularly when we’re talking about a character that’s always been white and his whiteness is CENTRAL to his character.

    The whole idea that Iron Fist should be Asian because Asians know kung-fu is stupid.

    It’s like casting an Eminem movie but making him black, because he’s a rapper and everyone knows rappers are black.

    I don’t even know how this is a thing. The solution is NEVER changing a character’s race/sexuality/etc to add more inclusivity. It’s develop characters that are meaningful that aren’t just white people. It’s not hard. Giving other races “hand me down” characters is cheap.

    I’ve always thought Jodie Sweeten was cute, not sure why she got such a bad wrap given how mostly together she was despite addiction issues and such. She never bottomed out publicly or anything.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.