This has to be the most unexpected, sleeper hit of all of the Star Treks. Nobody would have thought we needed another animated series, but this is everything! So many deep cuts that appeal to hardcore Trekkies and enjoyable for even the casual viewer. Seriously, no Star Trek has ever had a solid first season. Ever. Until now. After the newest Star Trek movies, Discovery, and Picard started off rocky as hell, many were questioning whether we could have another Trek that hit the right balance of seriousness and camp. Lower Decks won everyone over by the end of the season and I expect great things for Season 2!
Side note, why/how is Johnathan Frakes so darn good at directing? Can we just make him a show runner with his own series?
Lots of Black characters in this show: A Black captain, a Black lead character, a Black admiral, and a Black engineer so far. And, an Orion!
Can’t wait for August 12th on Paramount +.
Everyone is enjoying The Falcon & Winter Soldier, right? The show has stimulated some good awareness of the atrocities committed against black people (note, everything is not about the Tuskegee experiment.) Once one tragedy enters the public awareness, we have a tendency to run it into the group. We still need to have a larger, deeper conversation about the treatment and atrocities committed against Black soldiers, which is really the crux of the story of Isaiah Bradley. Black soldiers, still in the midst of the inhumane treatment during the Jim Crow era, were used, abused, and treated like cannon fodder in pursuit of the country’s anti-imperialist conflicts, while treating Black soldiers little better than beasts of burden. Many were left broken with little recompense and recognition for their monumental sacrifices. Carl Lumbly has done a superb job portraying the pain and resignation of a man who had his hope crushed and, then, turned in on itself. Just trying to eek out a small, peaceful life of someone who just desires to be left alone. Everything was taken from him.
While we have been exploring and analyzing the racial context and messages in The Falcon and Winter Soldier, I haven’t seen anyone address Karli Morgenthau’s blackness/biracialness. On the innanets, people seem to really dislike the character and struggle to follow the Flag Smashers’ motivations under her leadership. Marvel Studios, to its credit, has built a fascinatingly diverse cast with chemistry that doesn’t feel forced in any way. Karli’s race has not been asserted in the show and I have to wonder how many viewers even realize that she is of Black/African descent. I knew she was Black right away, as I will assume most Black viewers did. We come in infinite combinations and most of us learn from a young age to identify each other in the most subtle ways. Interestingly, in the television show, Karli was intentionally gender-swapped and de-aged from the comics by the showrunners to provide more representation for young women and a different perspective.
The Flag Smashers represent an issue that doesn’t receive attention in the United States very often. Internally Displaced People (IDPs) are escaping crime, armed conflict, coups, food insecurity, and other threats to their survivals in their own countries, different than refugees. The most similar experience we have had in the United States is the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In the case of the Blip, all governmental and civil society infrastructure was disrupted for 5 years. When things came back, people understandably started to rebuild things as they had been, older power structures, old wealth structures. Some of those who had been left behind didn’t want to go back to the old ways, instead they thought things were before during the Blip. They would perhaps be appropriately described as anarcho-terrorists. In the show, the Patch Act is in the process of being voted on, which would return all of the stateless to their previous countries, which many did not want nor did the camps have the capacity to handle.
Given that Karli’s racial identity hasn’t been addressed in the show, but assuming that she is mixed race from the UK as the actor is, it stands to wonder whether there is another story to be told, other than just the perspective of young leader. Is there an expected allegiance between Sam and Karli because of their potentially similar experiences with discrimination? Does she hold back on harming him and his family because of familiarity? What does it mean to her to see a Black Captain America, especially given her experiences with imperialism and authoritarianism. How does Sam feel? Does he empathize with her perspective in ways he can’t express? He connected with her, but the conversation was cut short, unfortunately. He explores his shared experiences regarding Isaiah, but what about with Karli?
Overall, the writers have knocked it out of the park so far. You know you dun gud when racist fans are mad and calling you SJWs all over the internet, as if social justice hasn’t been at the core of Marvel since the beginning. Fun fact, over half of the series’ writing staff are Black.
So, what say say you? Does her background matter? Do you want to know more about Karli and the rest of the Flag Smashers? Do you empathize with their goals?
One more episode left. The finale is April 23, 2021 at 3:01AM EST. Are you staying up to watch?
In a March 18, 2021 Deadline interview between Anthony D’Alessandro and Malcolm Spellman, Malcolm said this:
Can you tell us about the specific details of the pitch you fumbled?
I’ll tell you at the end of the season. I really want somebody to get Kevin to talk about the original run because it was so on point. It was so on point it was like ‘Oh, no, we can’t do that.’
WTheck does this mean??? Are we going to get the Spellman cut at some point???
I hope I never need to write a post like this again….but, it is extremely likely that I will. My heart is heavy. It aches for all of the lives lost due to individual and systemic racism and bigotry, but what I want to highlight in this post is xenophobia. Sometimes, I worry that the words racism and bigotry have run the euphemism treadmill to become so trite and cliche that we have forgotten the pain and the power behind them. So, let’s turn to a less oft-used, elegant, and very much applicable term: xenophobia. Xenophobia is defined as the fear and hatred of strangers and foreigners or of anything that is strange and foreign. We hear the term more frequently used in conversations about immigration and human rights and it is perfectly appropriate here.
Those of us who are of like-minds dream of a future where black skin does not engender fear and hatred… just by existing. We are human and, regardless of how we arrived where we reside, we are here and we belong. George Floyd, whatever failings he may have had, was an American. Yet, despite being an American citizen, throughout his life he was treated as a stranger, never quite belonging enough to be seen as “family” or even a neighbor. Part of “belonging” is not having to be perfect all the time, and being granted grace and mercy when our failings overwhelm us. Sometimes, you get to have a bad day. Too often, being black is living with the constant reminder that being our normal, imperfect selves can lead to our deaths.
Research confirms what the streets have been saying for years: White people think Black people are superhuman. They think we are magical. On the face of it, it sounds pretty cool. Who wouldn’t want to be Superman? But, being “super” creates fear among those who work within a system not designed to deal with those “seem” different. It is inherently dehumanizing, which allows use to lose our empathy. It creates this fantastical idea that a grown man in a position of authority can kneel on a black man’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds and that he shouldn’t die. “How dare he have the nerve to die on camera and cause us all these problems?” By his inhumane treatment of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin became a monster, plumbing the darkest depths of his soul, someone he probably didn’t recognize. Wrath is a sin.
Yet, this is bigger than Derek Chauvin and the other officers involved in George Floyd’s death. The system that they are a part of attempted to defend their irresponsible use of force and refusal to render aid until it was too late. George Floyd’s death was entirely preventable and unnecessary. When systems forget the human, the systems must be overhauled. Dismantled and rebuilt, if necessary. Empathy and ethics can and must be trained and demanded at every level of the justice system. We should all be demanding change, lest it be us in a situation one day.
When I mention Black rights in space, this is what I mean at core. The right to exist. The right to make mistakes and be appropriately punished for them, yet not end up dead. The right to be ordinary. We are not superhuman. We have to overcome the fear that has been built into the very psyche of the country, and likely the world. Ethical action cannot come from fear. Black people are humans. Black people are humans. Black people will be human on Mars too. What happens when actual aliens show up?
Things Black people can’t safely do (and white people, you better be careful doing them too):
- Sleep in their beds
- Walk home at night
- Stop at a house to ask for help after a car wreck
- Wait for their child at a bus stop
- Go in their own house
- Have a busted taillight
- Act like a child when they are an actual child
- Reach for their driver’s license after being told to show their driver’s license
- Beat a racist’s a** after they were attacked for no reason
- Have a cookout in a public park with grills
- Walk their dog
- Go for a jog
- Cosplay as their favorite anime character
- Pay with a $20 bill
We can be better; we have to be better. Black rights are human rights. This verdict is a step toward accountability, but it doesn’t feel like justice.
Michael Dorn just tweeted this! Get hype, everyone! Can we also talk about how beautiful and well-preserved this man is?! Despite all those years of wearing Worf’s makeup that irritated his skin. His Black is not cracking!
Just got the news, being summoned back into action. Starfleet calls. #ad
We don’t know what he will be doing yet, but it is about time the Trek stopped frontin’ on Michael Dorn’s skills. He’s been shopping a Klingon-focused Star Trek for about a decade to no avail. Maybe this is the beginning of his Renaissance. *fingers crossed*
From the looks of it, it appears that he will be Assistant Director of an episode. I seriously hope it is more than that. Let me know if you find out anything more about his role. I want to be first in line!
We need to give him his flowers while he’s still with us.
I haven’t written on here in such a long time. Honestly, I haven’t been sure that my input was needed. There are so many black geek/blerd blogs out there now and so much energy about afrofuturism that I haven’t been sure what my unique contribution could/should be. But, we still out here, y’all!
Also, it seems like all of these blogs are getting sneak peeks of new shows and products. How does one get that kind of access if you don’t live in LA or near where the shows are being filmed? Hit me up if you know.
When I logged in, I saw all of your messages. I am so grateful! Shout out to all the spammers who post who post the most random of things. How do y’all even find this blog? LOL
I am planning to keep it light at first. There’s so much new media out there; there are so many black creators who are getting some shine these days; black geekdom has gained wide accepted. We went from begging for representation and having to be happy with pittances to being everywhere now! We still have a ways to go on overcoming tropes and stereotypes, but we are making so much progress, y’all! I am so happy!
That said, it seems we have reached an inflection point. As much as Blackness is being celebrated, black bodies are still being treated as threats; we are still dying earlier from treatable and preventable diseases; our mothers and babies are dying due to health inequities; and wealth inequality is reaching dangerous levels. We’re going to talk about these things here too. I wasn’t joking about Black rights in space.
Oh, and lastly, shouts to everyone who posted my little Vulcan avatar. It tickles me every time I see it! My web design skills are seriously lacking, so I love that y’all find value in it.
Much love to all of you! Stay healthy, stay strong!
If you’re reading this blog, you have been waiting for Luke Cage to be released with baited breath. I’ve been checking my Netflix repeatedly to see if it would be released a little early. How greedy am I?
In all seriousness, we need to give Netflix kudos for making a show that was so black. Black with a capital B! The director, the female lead, Pop’s barbershop, Biggie with the crown, the soundtrack, Heather B., Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Wu Tang, and the gatdamn Delfonics. So indulgently black and so needed right now.
Harlem is in the midst of gentrification and a Councilwoman named Mariah is doing her best to make sure the city remains black and brown. It sounds admirable, but we quickly learn that it is tainted by ambition and drug/gang politics. Her cousin, Cottonmouth, is the local kingpin who is under increasing pressure to defend and expand his territory. Luke Cage ends up in the middle of this when Pop’s Barbershop is attacked and Pop is killed. Pop was the closest thing that Luke had to a father and brought the ruckus to bring down Cottonmouth and Mariah’s criminal enterprise. There is a huge shift in the story about halfway through that allows us much more insight into Luke’s backstory. I won’t ruin it for you.
The series did so many things right: the setting, the pacing, the soundtrack, the sarcasm, and the reverence for the comics were like a slow burn. I think the standout feature is the acting. Mike Colter, Simone Missick, Alfre Woodard, Mahershala Ali, Erik Harvey, and all The Wire actors who turned up put in tour de force performances. All the actors seemed to revel in the opportunity to flesh out their roles. Something about it feels different. I’m not sure we’ve seen black characters like this before. Even Turk wasn’t a caricature. You won’t forget any of these characters. Honorable mention to Misty Knight’s naturally bountiful bosom and Luke’s hoodie, which deserve their own conversations.
And, shout out to Night Nurse! Can we get her her own show? Every time I see her character, the more I like her. Rosario Dawson did that! #nightnursesolit needs to start trending now!
I will acknowledge that there were weaknesses. Shades. When he first took his shades off the first time, I thought we were about to give way to the supernatural in the show. Does looking someone in the eye give him the ability to know whether someone is telling the truth? Why does he wear them all the time, even at night? The seeming answer was such a letdown. No, he just likes wearing shades. The uneven treatment of his role was awkward and frustrating. He’s intended to be a ‘chaotic neutral’, but instead he’s just chaotic. I don’t know if it was tha the acting was wooden or that the writers didn’t know what to do with his character, but it just didn’t work. Make a decision! And, we’re not even going to discuss that kiss. I screamed out loud a little.
Diamondback was confusing as well. Erik LaRay Harvey did a great job with the material he was given. My complaint was about the material he was given. Diamondback is a lunatic hellbent on destroying Luke Cage, but he’s also a criminal mastermind. What comes across is a petulant man child with daddy issues and misplaced aggression. Is that really a villain worthy of Luke Cage? I don’t think so. It was kinda corny. Here’s hoping that this season was just an introduction and they have much grander plans for Diamondback.
There were a few MCU continuity issues that I noticed. Alfre Woodard already played a different character in Iron Man 3. A reference was made to President Obama when he is not the president in the Marvel universe. I’m sure there were a few others that I missed.
The story is also a bit detached from the rest of the MCU. Not sure if I should consider that a plus or minus. There is mention of The Incident, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Justin Hammer, and Jessica Jones, but seemingly less so than other shows. We’ll see how this continues to unfold in Season 2.
All in all, a great show that is soul satisfying. Thank you to everyone involved for giving it to us.
P.S. If you’re like me and have a whole lot of questions about a certain character, click here. Great writeup by Zakiya Jamal.
I think so. You know from my previous review that I thought Suicide Squad was ridiculous, but I haven’t really written about X-Men: Apocalypse. I was disappointed with both and I’ve been searching myself to figure out why. I finally figured it out: they are the same damn movie. Hear me out:
In both movies, there is an ancient, body-jumping consciousness that has overwhelming, magical powers that had been locked up by the normal humans. Some overly curious scientist/investigator let them loose and they decided to wreck havoc on civilization. They each assemble their respective teams and go to war with each other. The war is messy; bombs are launched, people die, and there’s travel by helicopter. Inexplicably, both Big Bads plan to build some sort of destructive machine/monument to assume total control of the world, but we never quite find out how they will work. But, in the end, everything just falls flat.
Not the sort of thing that inspires movie ticket sales, eh?
Magneto and Mystic are the bad guys with questionable allegiances on the X-men team and Storm, Psylocke, and Angel are on En Sabah Nur’s team. But, they are all just kinda bad and most for understandable reasons of survival. You know that they are going to turn on their leader in favor of saving humanity. Amanda Waller assembles a team of rogues, called the Suicide Squad, that are chosen for their ruthlessness ad willingness to be and do evil things to combat evil. But, they never really seem that bad. Enchantress, the Big Bad in Suicide Squad, calls up her brother as her main henchman. She also turns men into faceless goons who have caviar for heads by kissing them.
SS’s Deadshot and X-men’s Quicksilver both get their time-slowing save the day moments. More helicopters and explosions. There are a few minutes of backstory to make the audience feel some emotion for them. Joker and Wolverine are shoehorned in for fan service, can’t have movies without them. And, both movies came to the same unsatisfying conclusion that left the viewer wonder what was the point of all this meshsugaas.
Thankfully, nobody dances like Enchantress.
Thinking about that made me lose my train of thought, so I’ll stop here. But, seriously, did anyone else notice this?
I confess that I’m a big Will Smith fan. Even after all of the misunderstood comments, side-eye at his kids’ creative commentary on reality, and the questionable choice to star in Focus. I still love Will; can’t help myself. So, of course, I went to see Suicide Squad on the opening weekend. Didn’t hurt that I received free tickets (hype!).
So, let’s get into it. The early reviews for the movie were bad. Well, bad is actually kind of an understatement. At the time of writing, Rotten Tomatoes has the movie at 28% Rotten. Not sure I’ve ever seen a rating so low for a big movie. The reviews were so bad that my mind went into C-O-N-spiracy theory (word to Damon Wayans). Was the Man trying to hold DC Movies down? After the bad reviews for Batman vs. Superman, is Disney/Marvel trying to stomp down any challengers to its superhero movie dominance? It couldn’t possibly be that bad, could it?
Yeah, it was pretty bad.
As much as it pains me to write this, the movie was bad. I tried. I tried to keep an open mind. I tried to see it as what I think it was supposed to be: a setup for future movies. But, as the movie continued, the more I found myself thinking this sh*t can’t be happening.
The plot of the movie, in a nutshell, is a bunch of society’s misfits with either given or honed special powers assemble to fight a supernatural power that all of our mortal weapons are woefully inadequate to destroy. There are guns, lots of fights, CGI, a love story, all the good stuff you’ve come to expect out of a superhero flick.
On deck are:
Will Smith as Will Smith with a Gun/Deadshot
Jared Leto as Tony Montana/Joker
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. No jokes here, she did a great job.
Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flagg/Angsty Eyebrows
Viola Davis as Annalise Keating with a Gun/ Amanda Waller
Jay Hernandez as Diablo
Jai Courtney as Digger Harkness/Boomerang
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc. Sigh.
Cara Delevigne as Dr. Moone/Enchantress
Adam Beach as Slipknot
Karen Fukhara as Katana
Common as Monster T
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne
Got it? Good. There will be a quiz later.
That’s a lot of characters to set up in one movie, right? I agree. That’s the main problem with the movie; it’s all over the place for no good reason. Each character gets between 3-5 minutes of backstory, save Slipknot who gets 10 seconds. In fact, maybe less, he is summed up in “He can climb anything.” Then, he dies. Bye Slipknot. Native Americans may be salty as sh*t at this. Frequently a black person is the first to die in a movie, but even we get more screen time than that.
Deadshot has a kid who doesn’t want him to be a mercenary anymore. Diablo has the most juice of any of them, but he’s sworn off killing in an attempt to quell his demons. Dr. Moon gets possessed by Enchantress. Amanda Waller is a sociopath in a pantsuit. Katana is emo-crazy with a sharp sword. Killer Croc is… well, we’ll come back to that. Harley Quinn gets the most backstory to setup the quixotic obsession that she and Joker have with each other. Speaking of which, why is the Joker even in this movie??? Jared Leto, reportedly, stayed in character the entire shoot by playing pranks and doing some downright disgusting things to his co-stars (i.e. sending them used condoms). Was he hoping to win an Oscar with this role? He either needed to be in the movie or not at all. After some thought, I think not at all. He should have his own movie focused on Joker and Harley Quinn, because the snippets of their relationship development made no sense in the movie. What kind of magic stick/mind f*ckery did he do to turn Harley Quinn out like that? Please get him on Oprah because inquiring minds want to know.
The problems with the movie mainly come down to pacing and tone. It’s serious one moment and lighthearted the next. One minute, the team is a bunch of strangers; 15 minutes and some drinks later, they are talking about how they are family and friends. These are bad guys, the baddest. Does game recognize game? If so, how do you build trust like that with folks you don’t know? Do you have to test their loyalty first? The was a sharp sigh in my theatre when Diablo started talking about messing with his “family”.
Speaking of Diablo, he was the only character whose story offered any emotional range. He was the only one I came to care about during the entire movie. His gift caused him to harm the people he loved the most. Well, him, and Deadshot’s daughter. Batman pops up to try to wrangle Deadshot and her little tail stepped in front of Deadshot’s gun. I know that they were trying to Pursuit of Happyness Will Smith’s character, but bye. First off, it’s Deadshot; he still could’ve hit Batman without her moving because HE’S DEADSHOT! Second, I know Daddy had a talk with his little girl about not interfering in grown folks bizness! But, whatever. If I had pulled that, my dad would have turned into a 10 foot tall monster like Enchantress’ brother. Trust.
Deadshot did have the funniest moment in the movie when he was making demands, one of which was to ensure his daughter went to an Ivy League school and, if she couldn’t cut it, to “White people that thing. Y’all know how y’all do”. In-joke about meritocracy. There was some polite tittering at that line in my theatre with a few full belly laughs. The kind of laugh that says, “Pause the movie, you heard that sh*t, right.” I don’t know who they came from; it was dark.
That could have been the end of the movie and I would have felt satisfied. But, there was more.
Cara Delevigne’s Dr. Moon/Enchantress was the main antagonist in the movie. Dr. Moon was possessed by Enchantress after having found an idol containing her spirit in a cave. Dr. Moon was sweet and yielding and fell in love with Rick Flag, but her other side was the complete opposite. Enchantress got free and all hell broke loose, literally and figuratively. Now, here’s where it got hinkey for me. Why were the plots of X-Men: Apocalypse and Suicide Squad so similar? Apocalypse, like Enchantress, was this ancient Big Bad that was extremely overpowered and used to being worshipped as a God. Both were trying to construct something that caused massive destruction around the world. Was it half-off script day at Starbucks? The similarities made me wonder whether this was the reason for the obvious editing mess that was Suicide Squad’s end result. I’m sure we’ll never know, but it is irritating because Suicide Squad had sooooo much material from which to draw.
Anyways, the movie goes downhill into complete drivel and silliness that isn’t worth recounting. The one upshot was Enchantress doing the drunk/crackhead shimmy while trying to conjure her magic. Cara should be angry about the role she was given. Why did a witch found somewhere in South America have a British accent? This has got to be the downside of being beautiful. Nobody takes you seriously. Everything you do is just great (including looking like the little girl from The Ring). But, then again, you get a role in a major movie, so I guess it’s a wash.
This might be the most diverse marquee of any big budget movie. That makes the clusterf*ck that this film turned into all the more sad. Let’s imagine what could have been: one focused backstory with other supporting players (probably should have been Amanda Waller’s story), no Joker, and a better villain. Hey, they could even bring Slipknot back in the retconned sequel! And, maybe, they’ll do better with Killer Croc. Yeah, I know I said I would come back to him. How you gon’ do Adebesi from Oz dirty like that, David Ayer? He’s an excellent actor. It probably would’ve been better if they just didn’t have him speak. His one intelligible utterance was about getting BET in his cell in order to watch what appears to be the long defunct BET Uncut. My eyes rolled so hard that they nearly fell out of my head. I guess David Ayer figured that there were so many black characters in the movie that it was fine to make Killer Croc one massive and continuous stereotype. I can’t call it.
**1/2 Stars. I have the feeling a better movie exists in the deleted scenes. The movie is still going to make a ton of money, but DC can still hold this L.
So, what say you?
* Yes, I totally forgot that Monster T was the first to die, Jason. Fight me.
Hold up, so Voyager 1 has left the damn solar system and it’s not on the front page anywhere? Y’all do realize what an achievement this is, right? Voyager has now traveled farther than any man-made object to date.
Just so we are clear, this is a photo of Earth from Voyager 1 in 1990. See that little blue dot in the brown band? Yep, that’s us and everyone who has ever lived on Earth. It’s been 23 years since that was taken.
There’s been controversy about whether Voyager 1 actually left for a year or so now, but it appears researchers are certain that Voyager 1 is now traipsing through the Milky Way. It has actually gone where no man has gone before!
Remember V’ger, anyone else a little nervous? Could you imagine Voyager 1 being intercepted and upfitted by a race of aliens and returning to us? I’ll be long dead by the time that happens, but it is kinda cool to consider. On the other end of the spectrum, a probe entering a black hole and becoming self-aware was a very similar story to the movie Event Horizon– the scariest movie ever made. Let’s hope that sh*t doesn’t happen.
The V’ger entity and resultant merger with Ilia and Lt. Decker is supposed to be the beginning of the Borg, so, yeah, let’s hope all of that doesn’t happen. In fact, let’s hope that the galaxy is filled with gentle, kind My Little Ponies or something.
In fact, maybe there is good reason for this not to be front page news after all…
Happy Friday everyone!