The Other Voices: The Kids Are Alright

Sexuality is a spectrum. You can be homosexual or heterosexual, bisexual or pansexual, heteroflexible, homoflexible…. That’s your business. And there are subsets of sexuality that describe HOW you feel attraction, not just who you’re attracted to: megasexual, demisexual, asexual, graysexual…. The list goes on. Some people choose not to identify at all, but all of these identities are valid, and sometimes fluid as we grow and change throughout our lives.

In the last couple of years since I became polyamorous, I’ve become more and more interested in the wide spectrum of sexuality and relationship styles, which is why my partner recently recommended I watch the 2010 film directed and written by Lisa Cholodenko, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT.

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Petition This!

I remember a time when a film was released, people watched them. And if they didn’t enjoy them or they didn’t like them, they might have gotten annoyed about it or they maybe complained to their friends about how shit it was. Now people seem to think that if they don’t enjoy a film or TV series, they have a right to petition the makers to go back and remake it to how they want it. I, for one, am sick of it.

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The Other Voices: Twilight

Until this week, I had never seen TWILIGHT, so as it is one of the biggest box office hits of all time to have a female director, I decided to give it a go for this column. According to Box Office Mojo, it had a production budget of $37M and it made a global $393,616,788 in theaters, which demonstrated to Hollywood that yes, teenage girls do like to go see movies, so you should make more stuff for them. That discovery eventually brought us THE HUNGER GAMES, so for that, I am grateful.

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I Demand Satisfaction

OR: HOW I LEARNED MY ANGER IS JUSTIFIED.

We have written a few articles on this site about fandom, nerddom and the like, but I feel that we often spend the majority of the time condemning fans for wanting things they love to match their expectations- without ever really trying to think about things from their side.  

I’m going to do something out of character: I’m going to try to see how I’ve been wrong and dive into why the angry fanboy is right- even if what they do with their anger is wrong. No matter how much you hate any piece of media, you can trust that people (not all of them, sure) poured their blood sweat and tears into it and any personal attacks are not only a waste of time, but outright cruel.  To do this, I’m going to be looking at some recent films and TV shows and spoil the hell out of them, so be warned….

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The Other Voices: Short Term 12

2013’s SHORT TERM 12 is a film student’s dream come true. It started life as a 21-minute short film in 2008 – available on Itunes for $2.99 – and became an indie feature with a cast that immediately blew up like crazy. The feature’s got Brie Larson, Rami Malek, Stephanie Beatriz, and LaKeith Stanfield (who was also in the short film) – all of whom were relative unknowns at the time.

So let’s give a shoutout to the casting department, because you should never underestimate their importance: Kerry Barden, Rich Delia, and Paul Schnee. Casting is always important, but in a film where the story is carried not by a MacGuffin or some attainable goal, it’s absolutely vital to have the best actors possible on board, since their choices will carry a lot of the weight of your film. These casting agents nailed it.

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The Other Voices: Monsoon Wedding

2001’s MONSOON WEDDING was an international co-production. Writer Sabrina Dahwan wrote it while she completed her MFA at Columbia in the States, it takes place in New Delhi, and the dialogue is a blend of English and Hindi. It was produced by IFC films with a budget of $7M, and released by Focus Features, to a successful worldwide gross of over $30M. It was nominated and won a lot of awards, and has been released as part of the Criterion Collection. It’s also been turned into a stage musical.

Here’s the trailer:

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Pop Quiz Hot Shot: The 25th Anniversary of Speed

“There’s a bomb on a bus” -a simple statement, but one that would set the stage for the most exciting bus ride ever committed to celluloid. Not only would Speed be a rip-roaring action thriller that would get your heart racing throughout, it would also launch Keanu Reeves career into the stratosphere and pull him from the shadow of Theodore “Ted” Logan. It would go on to showcase him as a bankable action star. It would also launch Sandra Bullock’s career just as high. A film that would make major movie stars out of it’s two leads is definitely one that will leave a lasting impression, and Speed did just that.

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The Other Voices: Fast Color

I’m a sucker for stories about unrealized potential finally being realized. Any story about someone who thinks they’re not worth anything and then finds out they’re super special – that’s my very favorite kind of story. FAST COLOR is one such story, which is why I’ve chosen to make it my first in my new series on films directed by women and people of color.

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Dancing with the Devil by the Pale Moonlight: Batman 30 Years Later

In a time where superhero movies were not dominating the box office; where the idea of a dark, moody and serious comic book movie was something that people would screw their noses up at, one film managed to break the mold of what we conceived comic book films to be. It showed us that they could be serious and didn’t have to be about extraordinary characters.

But the transition from the pages of comic books to the big screen was not an easy one.

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The Other Voices: On Films Directed by Women and People of Color

When Once Upon a Time in Hollywood came out, there was a lot of Tarantino blowback, which created Tarantino blowback blowback, and before too long, everyone was arguing over whether or not Tarantino is racist and/or sexist once again. Nobody has come to any generally acceptable conclusions, and nobody is going to change Tarantino, so I thought.

OK. What if we all just stop worrying about whether or not Tarantino is a racist or a sexist? What if we just kind of watch his movies or don’t, depending on what you’re into. And instead of arguing about it, what if we all just vowed that as we watch Tarantino films, and Scorsese films, and Spielberg films, and the films of a thousand other genius white cis male directors – what if we also make a conscious effort to watch films by women and people of color? That way, yes, you’re getting your white boy director fix, but you’re also exposing yourself to some voices you didn’t know about before, and helping to support material from artists who have a harder time getting funding for production and marketing.

The truth is, when a director is a woman or a person of color, they are far more likely to hire women and people of color to work on the cast and crew, and that’s good for everyone. And even though statistically, films with diverse casts do better box office numbers, we still suffer under the delusion that only white men really know how to direct. Women and people of color simply don’t get the same level of exposure.

Here’s an example of it at work. It’s a TV staffing example, but an example nonetheless. I LOVE Rick and Morty. OBSESSED with Rick and Morty. Watch Rick and Morty over and over again all day forever. Here’s me at Comic Con in my Rick and Morty coat I made, so you know my bona fides.

But if you listen to the commentary on season 1 episodes, it’s cringeworthy. It’s so BROEY. While Justin Roiland is talking about pretty graphic things he’d like to do to Summer, you also hear stories about using binoculars to watch women walk around on the lot below. You can hear the discomfort in Dan Harmon’s voice in an attempt to convince the listener that they really tried to get women onstaff, but no women happened to be interested. And maybe they did. I don’t know – I wasn’t there. But I do know that most people in the TV writing community like to pull from people they already know, and if you are a guy who graphically describes what you’d like to do to a female cartoon character, you’re unlikely to be the kind of guy with a whole lot of platonic female friends. They probably didn’t personally know a whole lot of women writers who wanted to be in a room like that. I know that if I could be sure that the room was a safe space, I’d LOVE to be on the Rick and Morty writing staff – but would I feel safe there after hearing that commentary? Absolutely not. But fast forward, and sure enough, eventually they found women to write for the show. The point is, they probably didn’t look very hard in the beginning. Sometimes people will ask one woman and say well, we tried. But they don’t actively search – they just look around at the most obvious people around them – and the truth is, because it’s so much harder to get exposure as a woman or a person of color, sometimes YOU HAVE TO SEARCH. It’s not a meritocracy. Cis white men are taken more seriously, whether they deserve it or not. They will always be the most obvious candidates. But they won’t always be the best ones.

So.

I Tweeted my proposal:

And you’d think I’d ask some white dudes to rip their own arms off. They were offended at the idea that I’d ask them to do any work. “But I am enlightened!” They said. “I judge a film by the quality, not the skin color or gender of the person who made it! How dare you suggest otherwise! This is an outrage!” (I am paraphrasing).

They were seriously so mad. I argued at first, hoping I could reach a few, but almost every conversation ended in either a block or a mute, so eventually I just started pre-emptively muting all of them.

Some of them were enraged that I hadn’t told them what to watch, so I decided to follow my own advice and started my own deep dive into films directed by women and people of color. I tweeted out a request to my followers to give me suggestions, and I got back an avalanche of recommendations, both foreign and domestic, and it’s still growing:

And that’s what I plan to do next. Once a week, I’m going to watch one film by a woman or person of color, and then I’m going to write up my thoughts about it and tell you where to find it in case you want to join me. Every week, on Monday, you can find my article and the assignment for next week here.

I encourage you to engage if you’d like. You can email me about this here to give me your thoughts on this film or suggest one:

Or comment below. I’d love it is this became a conversation, not just me blabbing on. However, anyone commenting in a negative way about the existence of this column/project overall, or saying anything sexist or racist will automatically be deleted. I’m not having that crap here (TheOtherVoicesATH@gmail.com). But meaningful thoughts? Always welcome.

Hopefully, we can all be introduced to some films we never would have seen otherwise.

We’ll start next week, on Monday, with director Julia Hart’s recent release, FAST COLOR, which you can currently find on Amazon, ITunes, Vudu, Google Play, Redbox, and Fandango.