Posted on

The Female Perspective: Character Drama In Adaptations

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


This week there have been a few bits of information regarding the re-casting of comic book characters. One is that the new female Iron Man will be called Ironheart and the other is that Zendaya will supposedly be playing Mary Jane in Spiderman: Homecoming. In all honestly, I am not overly concerned with the re-casting of characters in terms of race of sex. If they can portray or tell good story, then their skin color and sex shouldn’t matter one bit.

The sad thing is, it seems to matter to quite a few people, I’m sorry, trolls.

When I was checking out the story about Zendaya playing Mary Jane the comments that ran along with the story were what interested me more than the actual story (I really have no clue who Zendaya is, nor do I care to find out and I am not a Spiderman fan in the least). The fact is that Zendaya is the daughter of an African-American father and a white mother, and she is playing a character that has always been portrayed as pale skinned with red hair. So you can imagine the derogatory comments and accusations of racism that have abounded alongside the announcement, many of them I cannot print here.

Where it gets murky is when people start covering their racism by saying they want these characters to be “portrayed in their true form” on screen.

Comparing Zendaya, Dunst and their comic book counterpart leaves you realizing that actually, Zendaya looks more like Mary Jane than Dunst did.
Food For Thought: Comparing Zendaya, Dunst and their comic book counterpart you realize that actually, Zendaya looks more like Mary Jane than Dunst did.

Is that racism masquerading as fandom or is it just simple fandom? It’s a question I don’t know the answer to and honestly, in the current cultural climate, I think casting a woman of mixed race as a character who is known to be pale skinned with red hair is perfectly fine. What matters in the end is the performance,  not the skin color.

Where I get annoyed (and hang in here with me, it gets confusing) is when those same people that got mad over changing Mary Jane, then get mad when others get mad over white people playing Egyptian or Asian roles. I’ve seen those same people who pitched a fit over Mary Jane go on and on about how race doesn’t matter. Argh! Pick a side of the debate and stick to it people!

Where is the line where it becomes okay to hate on casting because of skin color or sex? The answer to that one is it’s never okay, but in a world constantly on edge, it’s very difficult to say or do the right thing, no matter what side of the debate you’re on.

I’m not a racist fanboy, but I want to see a white Mary Jane, like comic books, the same happen[ed] in The Flash (Iris West) and Supergirl (James Olsen). What happens if there was the other way? If they put a white Black Panther?

Junior Sara on Facebook

When you have to start a comment with “I’m not racist”, then you need to stop typing or speaking right away because the chances of you saying something intelligent after are pretty much zero. The fact is this (poorly worded) comment stuck out to me (among others I cannot put in this blog) because this is really comparing apples to oranges. The character of Mary Jane is not rooted in her cultural identity, Black Panther is. He is the leader of an African tribe, he is the first black superhero–changing him from African-American to white would be a comic book catastrophe, not to mention hugely insulting to the characters legacy and backstory.

Don’t get me wrong, I get it, while I am a fan of comics, I love books even more and when I see a movie based on a beloved book, I want the characters to make sense. I want to see the character I always imagined on screen, but the simple fact is, the people making the movie are not seeing the same thing I am!  A recent example of that is Idris Elba being cast as The Gunslinger in the upcoming gunslinger movie. I was PSYCHED they picked Elba, but many, MANY people were upset. They had always seen Roland as a white man, a Clint Eastwood type, and if this movie was being made 30-40 years ago, yeah Eastwood would be great. But it’s not being made in the long ago, and honestly I think that Elba will do a phenomenal job at it. He has that broody, quiet thing down pat and it’s going to be a blast seeing him on screen playing one of Stephen King’s best characters. In the end for me it comes down to character portrayal, writing and directing. I do not care one whit what color or sex they are.

Does Elba look exactly like the Gunslinger? No. But is he going to be amazing? I think so!
Does Elba look exactly like the Gunslinger? No. But is he going to be amazing? I think so!

The fact is, what I see time and time again online is people that are unhappy. People who don’t have the faintest idea what it takes to make a movie, especially one that they are adapting from beloved source material. Same thing with comics, when writers and artists and studios want to revamp a character (Like making Thor into a female) it throws people off, we are creatures of habit (and some of us are racist, sexist jerk-heads) and as many have stated, we want to see the characters we loved stay the same, to be on screen looking the same as the writer described.

As a writer, I can think of nothing more exciting then having one of my books made into a movie. I also know that I would really want nothing to do with it because I would become endlessly frustrated. I have a vision for my characters and story that someone else might not have. I am also completely unbiased and would not be able to make the hard choices of what gets cut and doesn’t get cut. That being said, would I care if they changed the ethnicity of a character or turned a she into a he or a he into a she? If it served the story, I wouldn’t care one bit.

Art is a fluid, always moving aesthetic. One person’s vision is not the same as another persons. We have to learn to not get stuck in the rut of expectation. Instead we can feel shocked, dismayed or disappointed (I felt all those things when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman, but you  know what? He did a killer job) and then we have to move the heck on because guess what folks? It’s only a movie. If you don’t like something, don’t watch it, don’t buy it, don’t read about it. Just live your life as if this stuff doesn’t really matter because it really doesn’t. Enjoy the parts of an artistic vision that you can, be wowed by it, love it and let that be enough. For the stuff that annoys or disappoints, let it go. That won’t help with the racist trolls, but it will help us all get a little less tied up in thinking a character has to look a certain way, because these characters were created out of thin air and therefore, they can look pretty much any way they want.

Calm thyself, tis only a wee movie...
Calm thyself, tis only a wee movie…

What do you think? Are studios using too much “artistic vision” in their character changes? What casting/comic character change has irked you the most or made you the most happy? Sound off in the comments!

Posted on

The Female Perspective: STAR WARS: The Force Awakens … A Bunch of Trolls

Welcome! This is the weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


December 18th cannot come fast enough.
December 18th cannot come fast enough.

Unless you live under a rock you know that the new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out in all it’s Star Wars glory last night. Following a flurry of excitement and geeky goodness came the trolls.

The dang internet trolls.

Seriously, I really don’t like those guys (or gals).

What did they do this time? Oh, they created a hashtag that says “#BoycottStarWarsVII”, yeah, that’s right, there are actually people (at least, I think they’re people. Are trolls actual people? I’m beginning to think they’re actual trolls, like the ones that live under bridges.) out there that claim that the new Star Wars movie is “anti-white” because the star appears to be a black man.

According to FB the hashtag has been used over one hundred thousand times already.
According to FB the hashtag has been used over one hundred thousand times already.

Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. Somehow, someone, somewhere decided that from watching this 2-minute trailer that the entire movie is about this fellow and that means that the entire movie is now anti-white. Even though the other main character all appear to be white. Besides that point, there has always been diversity within the Star Wars world.  Lando is black, Darth Vader is voiced by a black man and I’m pretty sure all those aliens flitting in and about are of various ethnicities other than white. Just a suspicion of mine though and the fact is, I can’t possibly make this make sense. It’s so out there that my brain can’t even fully understand why someone would believe this, let alone make a specific hashtag to promote their racist propaganda.

12045298_1032897560075206_4886884940212660605_o

The fact is that whether this is “just” internet trolls, a cry for attention or nothing much, it is an important piece of the necessary dialogue about racism in this country. People try to say it’s gotten better because we don’t have slaves or separate rest rooms but that was obvious racism. What we have today is subtle racism and it is far more insidious and dangerous than the overt racism ever was. People can hide behind their computer screens or in plain site and yet, they are full of hatred for other races. This subtly is what brings us hashtags like this that go viral. It’s what stings in media stories that call black men “thugs” and white men “citizens”. The fact is that even if this boycott Star Wars hashtag is a joke, it’s not a very funny one.

Do not bring the children into your twisted logic. Kids aren’t born with racism.

In a world where we can put every single thought in our heads out into the mysterious internet, people are finding that other people say crazy, nutso, mostly insane things. That includes creating a hashtag to boycott what promises to be the biggest movie of the year.

I’m sorry trolls but you are going to lose this one. People who are true Star Wars fans are not going to run away because Luke Skywalker may or may not be the lead. They’re going to flock to this movie to see who the heck he’s become in all these years because, let’s face it, these trailers aren’t telling us much about our favorite Jedi, Smuggler, Princess and Wookie. We get little teases of their roles, little moments of seeing them on screen as some of our favorite fictional characters, it all leaves us wanting more.

I can't even ... There are no words ...
I can’t even … There are no words …

Besides all of that, the hashtag is clearly a cry  from white supremacists racists for attention.

You know some troll is sitting in their basement (yes, I’m generalizing here), enjoying a Mountain Dew and a microwaved burrito while laughing gleefully at the furor they’ve caused with their racist comments and hashtag.  Heck, I’m feeding into that with this blog but I can’t even help myself because the idea of someone saying that the new Star Wars is “anti-white” and everyone should boycott it just makes me insane.

At the end of the day, will this cut into the Star Wars money making machine? No way. The racists will not get what they want and the Star Wars franchise will soar on into movie history, as it should and as a movie with racial diversity in it’s cast. Not to mention, in the wake of “boycott Star Wars” has come it’s opposite, director Ava DuVernay, after expressing her own dismay, charged fans to co-opt another tag, #CelebrateStarWarsVII and some of the Tweets from that have been glorious indeed.

I because it’s giving us new, diverse voices and stories from a galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars is for everyone!!!

I read an article from iO9 today that used this line that I wholly agree with and it also reminded me that with all the awful stuff we see online, there is always, always going to be good stuff too. As evidenced by #CelebrateStarWarsVII and it reminding us that for kids especially, seeing a black man in the lead role is a wonderful thing indeed and for many of them, it’s not nearly as big a deal as it is for some of us.

Take something dumb and toxic, and turn it into something wonderful and funny. That’s also what the internet is about. ~iO9

Take that trolls, whatever toxic garbage you toss our way, we’ll always combat it with goodness and light because guess what? With darkness there is always light and as a good friend of mine always says, the light will win.

The Force is with us all.

Is it just trolls being trolls, nonsense or something to be worried about? 

Tell me YOUR thoughts.

Posted on

The Female Perspective: Gay Kissing, Dreadlocks and Racism. Oh My!

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 


Today I want to address a few different topics that I was made witness to these last few days. I am going to start by saying that this post may not be appropriate for all ages and I heartily apologize for the slur used in #2 listed below. That is the only time I will use it myself because it makes me feel ugly.

  1. The Walking Dead” had a gay kiss, the reactions are predictably (and sadly) off the wall insane.
  2. A FOX TV reporter used the term “jiggaboo” to describe Lady Gaga’s “Sound of Music” performance.
  3. Giuliana Rancic (with an assist from Kelly Osbourne) from E! News Fashion Police decided that singer Zendaya Coleman must smell of “weed or pachouli” because she has dreadlocks. 

Sigh. I am not even sure where to start with the feelings these three incidents bring up within me. I think the biggest feeling is disappointment. I know there is good in the world (this story proves it) but some days it can be very challenging to find the good amidst all the bad.

The Gay Kiss on The Walking Dead

The kiss is less than 1 minute long. Seriously?

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you are aware that I am a huge fan of “The Walking Dead”. I read the comics and enjoy the show. That being said, I was not surprised when two new male characters decided to share a kiss this past Sunday. It was so not a story to me that I admit to being surprised that people were outraged by this one-second kiss. Perhaps that makes me naive. I prefer to think that it makes me more tolerant than some of the trolls online.

From reading some of the tweets and comments after the show aired. You would think that the dang sky was falling down and that “The Walking Dead” had committed the biggest sin ever.

Excerpted from Bleeding Cool, here are some of the responses from some trolls over that one second kiss.

daniel franko @danielfranko5

Follow

@WalkingDead_AMC i have been watching the walking dead for years with my kids,then with no warning u throw gays in there, I’m disappointed

10:46 PM – 22 Feb 2015

63 RETWEETS 9 FAVORITES

I’m not sure what to be offended at most, the fact that this guys homophobic tweet got 63 retweets and 9 favorites or that this “man” watches “The Walking Dead” with his KIDS and is only now offended. Never mind that in past episodes we see Zombies eating people; cannibals and other such horrors, the true horror here is that two men kissed. Dear lord. Yes, it’s truly a show for kids. Until now. Can’t have the kids seeing what a loving relationship is like. No, no, that’s too horrific for their sensitive ears and eyes. Yeah, let’s think of the kids for sure because they should be watching a show about zombies and death. Yeah, that’s really stellar.

It continues on with this gem;

I don’t discriminate against gay people. Plenty of my co-workers are gay. I just rather not have young children exposed to the BS on TV

— BJ JONES (@BJizz1e) February 23, 2015

Oh, oh I gotcha…you’re NOT a homophobe yet seeing two people who LOVE EACH OTHER share a quick kiss, that’s offensive. Again with the kids. Seriously?!?!?!? What rocks do these folks live under?

And one of my personal favorites;

I’m not a homophobic but that gay couple just ruined The Walking Dead

— Bri Scott (@bri_scott34) February 23, 2015

I’ve got news for your BJ and Bri Scott, you ARE homophobes. Whenever you have to start a sentence with “I’m not homophobic…” or “I’m not racist, but…” it’s a sure sign that you are, in fact homophobic and/or racist. Don’t try to delude yourself into thinking that you are on the right side of this discussion. I am simply trying to understand why one moment of a show can ruin an entire series??? Someone, please explain that to me.

“Accidental” Racism

ZDKM9

Next, we have Kristi Capal, a local newscaster who thinks she can use a racist slang on TV and no one will get angry.

I should note that Capal did apologize later but the damage was done. She used a term that is defined as being offensive in the dictionary to describe Lady Gaga’s “Sound of Music” performance on the Oscars. Now, first off, Lady Gaga killed it at the Oscar’s. She showed a poise and elegance we rarely see from the performer. It was a reminder that not only is she a talented pianist, she is an talented singer as well. Even Julie Freakin Andrews loved it!

All this comment did was reveal Capal to be both racist and ignorant. She later said she didn’t know what the term meant. An explanation many find hard to believe since it is a rarely used word these days. It’s simply not a word you pull out of thin air. I suspect she said it without thinking but all the while knowing exactly what it meant. I am sure it was probably one of those moments where as soon as she said it (in front of her African-American co-anchor no less) she realized she had made a mistake, but it was too late Capal. We heard it.

According to E! News, Dreadlocks Smell of Weed

Finally, we come to the mess that is E! News and their Oscar Fashion Police. When I was younger, I found this show amusing but as I’ve grown, I see it now for the cruel farce it truly is. It’s a group of people putting down others for cheap laughs. It’s not a show I ever watch and I honestly cannot say that I’m surprised that one of the hosts finally got into some trouble for making a somewhat racist and very much cruel, comment.

Fashion Police host Rancic said that Coleman looks like she smells of "pachouli or weed".
Fashion Police host Rancic said that Coleman looks like she smells of “pachouli or weed”.

The story is that host Giuliana Rancic decided to throw a cheap shot at singer Zendaya Coleman, an 18 year old with dread locks. Rancic decided that this young woman (who looked stunning by the way) must either smell like “Pachouli or Weed”. What’s kind of amusing is she got an assist from Kelly Osbourne (of all people!) who added the weed part.

Um. What?

What’s interesting is that the outrage was instantaneous. People were stunned that Rancic would make such a comment without thinking. The show isn’t about what you smell like, it’s about what you are wearing. This was a low blow even by E!’s somewhat questionable standards.  What it made it more interesting wasn’t Rancic’s pathetic apology but Coleman’s classy response to this nonsesnse.

You can read the full text of Coleman’s response but my favorite part was this;

“To me, locs are a symbol of strength and beauty, almost like a lion’s mane,” the singer wrote. “I suggest some people should listen to India Arie’s ‘I Am Not My Hair’ and contemplate a little before opening your mouth so quickly to judge.”

I want to note that it was after Coleman issued her articulate and classy response to Rancic’s comments that Rancic apologized.

ADDITION as of 2/25: Rancic has since issued a very sincere and articulate apology – you can read/watch it here. While I again appreciate her efforts, for her to say she has “learned a lot”saddens me. Didn’t she already know this lesson?

My Thoughts On it All

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you might be reading this and think, well Rancic and Capal both apologized for the slights and that should be enough but it simply isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that they either found the presence of mind to apologize (or they were made to)but it doesn’t matter because the words were put out there. The fact that these thoughts were expressed on live TV saddens me.

I know I suffer from acting before I think occasionally. Sometimes that causes issues, sometimes it’s not a big deal. But never once have I issued hatred for another human being in public. I work hard at practicing non-judgement (and on days like this, it’s REALLY hard and I know I’ve failed a bit) but I am human, I fail. They are human and they fail. But it has to stop. If you are in the public eye you need to think before you speak. You need to realize that getting a cheap laugh for making fun of someone is never OK. You mocked a beautiful young woman for wearing her hair naturally and you praise her when she straightens her hair and looks “normal” – to you, anyway. Shame on the homophobes and shame on people like Rancic and Capal.

I wish I was a big enough person not to judge them for their actions but I am not. This type of hatred cannot stand. We have to learn to love each other, to be respectful of one another in order to find peace.

Love-one-another-and-Love-quote-pictures

What do you think of these topics? What can we do to stop these types of “slips” from happening?

Let me know in the comments!