Highlander reboot? there can be only one

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What would a guy really be like after 500 years of practicing sword-work? I’m still a stunt guy at heart. You want to reinvent gunfights, how do you do it? You want to reinvent swordfighting, how do you do it? And that’s where we are at now. I love the first Highlander and I think I’m in a pretty good spot. The creative team, the producers and the studio that’s behind it have kind of said, ‘It’s yours to play with.’ The trick would be coming up with an interesting way to introduce it to new audiences without stepping on what’s great about the original property. You don’t want to over complicate it. I think it speaks very simply: ‘There can be only one!’ ‘We’re immortals!’ ‘Don’t get your head chopped off!’ I think we all know what happened with the sequels.”
[…]
“When I came on, the property had already been developed for a couple of years and, as things happen in Hollywood, yeah, there was aliens, meteors, spaceships, uh, DNA mutations, terrorists. I mean, they’d tried to drag every plot into the Immortal world. My personal opinion, I don’t want to see any of that. I’m not interested. I have seen other movies like that. I haven’t seen the Immortal world.”

(grudgingly) fine, do what you want. but there can still only be one.

Still, how do you do an interview with a director for a Highlander movie, reboot or otherwise, and not ask about Queen? SMH

Jack is back – March 11

50 years into the future, time has not been kind to Jack. Aku has destroyed all of the time portals, thwarting the journey to travel back in time and stop him. Now, Jack is immortal (as a side effect of the time travel), but broken and lost. Aku, similarly, has everything he could ever want and is equally miserable. It’s a dark vision, not just in terms of the world, but in the personal despair.

more.

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Which Leia was Leia?

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Right now, The Princess Diarist is the #1 book on Amazon.com. And it’s sold out.

Looking at Carrie Fisher’s other books that feature her in her Leia persona on the cover, namely Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic – I am struck by the fact that she always portrayed herself as Episode IV Leia. (Both are out of stock right now, too). Obviously, she wasn’t a fan of Slave Leia, but General Leia didn’t seem to be as iconic in her own mind.

In a recent Facebook convo about Leia’s image, a female friend of mine expressed that she thought General Leia in Ep VII finally redeemed Leia from the “degraded mess” the character had become in Return of the Jedi, presumably because of that bikini. Alyssa Rosenberg in the Washington Post writes a pretty comprehensive defense of Leia on that score. I largely agree that focusing on what Leia was wearing misses the point – Leia was kidnapped by a space slug, forced to wear something obscene, and then killed him with her bare hands in revenge. The bikini was a literal symbol of how women are oppressed, and it’s her resistance and revenge over the victimization by Jabba, not the actual victimization itself, that define Leia. Fisher herself colored outside the feminist lines – she once joked about not remembering who she slept with to land the Leia role, but hoped it was Lucas himself! That’s not exactly a female-positive sense of humor. Likewise, what Leia wore in one scene of one movie shouldn’t really degrade the character or define it. Leia was complicated, reflecting how Fisher was complicated.

Rogue One, the Force, and gender

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A (female) friend of mine loved Rogue One, but noted an imbalance in the Force:

Wept tears of joy. And not to nitpick the film’s clear feminist intentions, but couldn’t at least a handful of the nameless cannon-fodder strike force be women?

The ramblings that follow began as a long-winded reply, but grew so unwieldy and disorganized that I decided it fit better here 🙂 Spoilers may follow. Continue reading “Rogue One, the Force, and gender”

A Muslim crew member on Star Trek: Discovery?

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As this essay at MoviePilot.com puts it, having a Muslim crew member aboard is fulfilling Gene Roddenberry’s mission:

There are many people facing discrimination in the current fraught social climate, and positive representation in the media can go a long way to helping ease these tensions. There’s no denying that Islamophobia has risen in recent years. Without delving into a political discussion of the specifics, suffice it to say that introducing a Muslim character to Star Trek might be the most revolutionary thing that Discovery could do — and this would be the best way to parallel Chekov’s role in The Original Series.

… including a Muslim character in Discovery would go a long way to fulfilling Roddenberry’s aim of easing social tensions between different human cultures and peoples. Admittedly, to do so the Discovery writers would have to flout another one of Roddenberry’s beliefs, but there’s already ample evidence for religion existing within the Federation.

Personally, I would love to see a woman sporting a hijab on the bridge of the Discovery — and not just because it would be neat to see how the scarf is incorporated into the uniform. If the Discovery writers do want to combat Islamophobia with representation, the character in question must be a practicing Muslim, as this isn’t just a racial prejudice, but one against the religion and culture.

I have two reasons for why I dislike this idea. First, I don’t like the analogy of Islam being the modern era’s Soviet Union. I don’t like talking politics here so I won’t belabor this, it’s a topic for City of Brass. Second, I think that social engineering on this sort works better with ethnicity than religion. Pavel Chekov was not a Soviet Russian. He was simply Russian, ethnically, in a way that was unambiguously obvious (ie, his accent). Worf was as Klingon as you could get – an explicit racial presence, also obvious. For Roddenberry’s strategy of de-Otherizing to work in the context of Islam, a similarly obvious approach needs to be taken.

I think including an explicit Muslim would be jarring since tehre is no other “real world” religion represented in Star Trek, at least for the Human society. It was Roddenberry’s world and he chose to eliminate religion from it. Adding a character who is explicitly Muslim complicates canon and introduces tension that undermines Star Trek’s appeal to all of humanity. Then you also need canon explanations for the status of Jews, Christians, Hindus, etc. This mess is exactly why religion was introduced to DS9 using the alien Bajoran society rather than picking one from our own.

The solution is to recognize that Islamophobia is not an intellectual reaction to a religion’s precepts, but rooted in racial and ethnic fears. Having a stand-in on the crew for a “Muslim-y” ethnic type would be great because that way when someone sees a Muslim on the street, they should be able to counter their knee-jerk stereotype by relating that person to this crewmember. Therefore, the ethnic choice of the actor is relevant to maximize that stereotype-defeating analogy. Which ethnicity works best for this purpose?

Arabs seem an obvious choice, because of the long ethnic association with Islam, but are not as visually distinguishable as Muslim due to high in-group diversity. A better choice would be bearded, brown-skinned, and male, ideally played by a Indian or Pakistani actor. But not Faran Tahir, who looks so badass in real-life that he isn’t connectable as a Muslim stereotype. I think Muslim American women are on the receiving end of more Islamophobia than men are, but for a different reason, and one that isn’t as addressable by casting in this way.

Overall, a bearded brown dude on the bridge would be a great nod to Roddenberry’s Bridge tradition, and avoid needless complication of the Trek universe’s canon or real-world appeal.