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Today was a bit better. Ran into Sabra who wasn't having a particularly interesting Saturday night either, which made me feel better about having no social life right now. And I talked to Nate and Harui about hanging out next week so hopefully something comes of that.

Some really awesome links I've been meaning to post from the fat acceptance blog circuit: first the thinning of classical beauties in art (the follow-up post is great too). This really irks me because my figure actually kind of resembles the curvier ladies of years past, and it boosted my self-esteem when I saw them in art galleries. Secondly, this post about the thinning of Hollywood. I forgot how beautiful these women were when they were bigger. And really, they don't look better thin. Any of them.

I'm not very familiar with Avatar: The Last Airbender, but apparently the live action version of this Asian-inspired tale is getting a total whitewash with some pretty disturbing implications. Now, I don't think it's wrong for a person to play someone who is not of their own ethnicity, it pushes boundaries and proves the universality of the human story. However, the reality is that Asian-American actors have a hell of a time trying to make it anywhere in Hollywood, and so for a story with obviously Asian characters to bypass qualified Asian-American actors and hand the parts to a bunch of white people is wrong.

Apparently to placate the haters, whoever's casting this thing has replaced Jesse McCartney with Dev Patel. Catch is Dev Patel is now the only person of color in the main cast and he's playing a villain. Hence it's now white heroes vs. scary brown man from the scary brown people clan. Well-spoken bloggers like this one can more eloquently explain why this shit is fucked up. (And may I point out the awesome icons they've made in protest, epic.) Did I mention that there's a brown hero character in the cartoon that has basically the same adorable, slightly dorky, lanky thang that Dev Patel has going on, and he's still playing the villain?

In full disclosure, my rage is somewhat fueled by my nascent crush on Patel. Adorable, slightly dorky, lanky guys are the ones I tend to fall for and it seems that Patel plays it well because he's actually like that which is awesome. (This comes from watching him on the Daily Show and elsewhere, I actually haven't seen Slumdog Millionaire and don't intend to, but that's another post for another day.) For funsies, here are some clips of him in Skins, an excellent British teen show. Watch a slightly younger Patel as Anwar on his first date, and aspiring to be a ninja.

EDIT: Also, this made me cry like a baby. Please go watch it and sign the petition to invalidate Prop 8. Please :3

on 2009-02-08 07:25 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] esotericpanacea.livejournal.com
1. Someone get them a cake. Hell, two cakes.

2. Good God, why can't we cast "races"?

3. Signed and proud.

on 2009-02-09 01:33 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] beneficentbeast.livejournal.com
1. Haha, yes. Cake solves all problems.

2. Do you know much about Avatar? I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts. Regardless I appreciate your contribution.

3. Yay!

on 2009-02-09 03:36 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] esotericpanacea.livejournal.com
I do not, but I have a few friends who do. I'll talk to them about it (be sure to ask Chris if you can.)

on 2009-02-11 03:22 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] esotericpanacea.livejournal.com
Yes, in fact. : friends :

on 2009-02-11 10:08 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] luai-lashire.livejournal.com
*friends back*

HOMG I watched every single episode of Soul Eater in 2 days and I LOVE it. :D Sorry, just had to mention that since I noticed one of your SE icons!

on 2009-02-12 10:34 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] esotericpanacea.livejournal.com
That's because Soul Eater is amazing.

on 2009-02-13 04:11 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] luai-lashire.livejournal.com
:D It totally is! We need to have Soul Eater marathon/party.

on 2009-02-11 01:20 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] beneficentbeast.livejournal.com
I'll assume Athene's one of them as well? Good point, I'll bring it up with him. He always has a lot to say about his fave pop culture things and social commentary etc.

on 2009-02-08 11:06 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] emerald-boa.livejournal.com

Oh, geez. Hollywood, kitschy dollar-store sculpture manufacturers, you are so clueless it would be almost unbelievable if this level of stupidity weren't disgustingly widespread and all too mundane.

That is all. :P


I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on Slumdog Millionaire, actually.

on 2009-02-09 02:07 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] beneficentbeast.livejournal.com
Word.

I've read a lot about it but haven't seen it. Apparently it's a relatively declawed look at slum life (ie it ain't City of God) with a fairy-tale ending. Those stories have their place, I'm sure it's cute and moving and all those things. Some commentators, particularly Indian ones, have panned it as an idealized Western view of Indian poverty that provides no new take on the issue. This is what makes me not want to see it.

Eventually, I imagine my curiosity (and crush on Dev Patel) will lead me to watch it though.

on 2009-02-09 02:52 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] emerald-boa.livejournal.com

Hmm, yeah. I saw it, liked it pretty well.

There are some pretty graphic, not-nice scenes of torture, beatings, a Hindu/Muslim skirmish in which the protagonist's mother is killed, ect., so I'm not sure I'd call it an "idealized" view of poverty, exactly, although I would agree that it skirts over the nastier details of actual slum life, and the unabashedly optimistic happy-ever-after ending is definitely not realistic and maybe a bit saccharine to certain sensibilities.

Still, I thought it was an engaging story well-told, I thought its treatment of its characters and setting was respectful and not fetishistic or stereotypical (though I realize that an Indian commenter is going to be far more cognizant about these things than I, and maybe I missed some things looking through my White-Ass American lenses), and I recognize that it had unrealistic magical-realist and wish-fulfillment-fantasy elements. I feel like those were part of its particular kind of narrative/genre, and not necessarily an attempt to sugarcoat real life for the audience.


YMMV, I suppose. But I'm curious about the criticism.

on 2009-02-11 01:18 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] beneficentbeast.livejournal.com
Ah, you know more than me then. And my limited knowledge of South Asian culture doesn't extend much to slum life. This article touches on some of the debate, but I remember seeing something more nuanced than that, can't recall where. From a story-telling point of view, I don't think anyone is debating its power. Some are critical about the way Hindu-Muslim conflict is shown, apparently the bad guys are Hindu? Though of course, Hindus are the majority in India and thus have a certain power.

My South Asian History prof sent out a message about it, here are some of his points you might find interesting:
-does this mean anything for India? or is it simply recognition of something most Indians believe, that 'our films are good'.

- is this film successful because it is directed by a Brit (Danny Boyle) and therefore has a veneer of sensilbility reigning in the Indianness of a Bollywood production, hence, this should not be trumpeted as an Indian film, or an Indian success?

- are Indian critics correct in dismissing this film, like the decades ago City of Joy (Patrick Swayze in slums of Calcutta) etc, as successful, because of the Western fascination with poverty? If so, does this film give a distorted vision of India, or a bad image? Or is it more realistic than boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl (but, that's in this film too,-- hai-na? -isn't it?)

- Is this a romanticization of slums?


I think it's worth pointing out too that a lot of the Bollywood stars who are critical of the film are pretty well-off and hence don't know very much about slum life.

on 2009-02-11 01:45 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] emerald-boa.livejournal.com

Thanks!

I, for one, when I was actively considering the social mileau of the film and not the plight of the specific characters it was focused on (and that was not often, admittedly), was thinking about how HORRIBLE it would be to live in poverty in a Mumbai slum...so if it was supposed to be romantic, that flew right by me. Doesn't mean those undertones aren't there, of course...perhaps I need to watch it again sometime. :s

on 2009-02-09 01:04 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] emerald-boa.livejournal.com

Also, those youtube clips are pretty hilarious. I like the Anwar/Sketch method of dine-and-dashing.

on 2009-02-09 02:13 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] beneficentbeast.livejournal.com
Aren't they? I love that scene. I wish I had an adorable first date like that in high school. Heck, I'd go for it now XD

on 2009-02-09 09:54 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] luai-lashire.livejournal.com
Gary said that Slumdog was really good and we should all go see it. I haven't yet. Don't know if I will. :\
Patel is freaking ADORABLE, and he would make such a better protagonist than antagonist! The way he looks and smiles is too friendly and happy for a bad guy!
... OK, to be fair, he probably could act evil if he wanted, but still. I think he'd actually draw in a lot more fans if he were cast as a good guy. That was a stupid move on the part of the casting directors.
I think they could potentially get away with a white actor for Aang and not have it look completely f***ed up, if they picked the right guy; but Sokka and Katara being white is just absurd. I mean, look at them! Their skin is dark! Their faces are not shaped like white people's faces! Their hair is not freaking blonde! >.<
I haven't watched much Avatar, but many of my friends are fans, I will definitely be passing this on.

on 2009-02-11 01:29 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] beneficentbeast.livejournal.com
I imagine Gary's seeing it from a story-telling point-of-view, in which case its power doesn't seem to be debatable. It's natural that there would be a debate among Indians about a film made partially by foreigners and on an international stage, especially one dealing with controversial topics like poverty. Perhaps I've been to quick to dismiss it.

Exactly, he's such a cutie! I'm sure he could handle an antagonist role as well, but when there's a role like Sokka staring him in the face, why? XD

I think the people protesting the casting aren't protesting the presence of a white main character, but the fact that all the main characters are white. Given that this will be primarily released in the West, it would probably be a good move to have at least one white person. Making them all (or now almost all) white is whitewashing.

on 2009-02-11 01:51 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] emerald-boa.livejournal.com

What Hil said. Whatever its faults (and it does have some), it's a very well-made, well-acted, well-scripted picaresque/romance/thriller/drama.

I also think it's good to watch (certain) controversial movies simply so that, if and when you criticize them, you're doing so knowledgeably and from personal experience, rather than relying on hearsay or regurgitating someone else's opinion.

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