Category Archives: Movies

REVIEW: I Watched ‘Ghost in the Shell’ So You Don’t Have To

April 2, 2017

This weekend, Hollywood’s live-action remake of the classic Ghost in the Shell anime opened in theatres nationwide. The film has been the subject of intense scrutiny including charges of White-washing related to the filmmakers’ highly-questionable decision to cast Scarlett Johansson in the leading role of Major Motoko Kusanagi. (In the Hollywood remake, the character is renamed Major Mira Killian to suit Johansson’s clearly non-Japanese appearance.)

Ghost in the Shell (2017) deserves all the harsh criticism it has received from movie critics and the Asian American community. Supporters of the film object, saying that the White-washing debate is a distraction. In fact, the White-washing controversy is totally relevant; moreover, it is symptomatic of the film’s essential problem: Ghost in the Shell (2017) fundamentally misunderstands its source material.

Whether due to ignorance or apathy, Ghost in the Shell (2017) fails to recognize the key thematic elements of the 1995 anime — Ghost in the Shell (1995) — from which it derives its inspiration. While Ghost in the Shell (2017) faithfully recreates many of Ghost in the Shell (1995)‘s most iconic scenes in breathtaking live-action CGI, Ghost in the Shell (2017) lacks any of Ghost in the Shell (1995)’s philosophical or theological essence. What results is an awful, wooden, lacklustre, and overtly racist live-action remake: a stilted, soulless artifice wrapped in the visually stunning iconography of the Ghost in the Shell  anime franchise.

In other words, Ghost in the Shell (2017) is a shell without a ghost.  All the good things about Ghost in the Shell (2017) come from the original anime, and all the terrible things are both uninspired and racist.

This review contains spoilers of both Ghost in the Shell (2017) and Ghost in the Shell (1995), as well as a brief spoiler of Ex Machina (2014). Please read on with care.

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Unpacking Get Out’s “Asian” character

March 6, 2017
Several characters gather in a party scene from Jordan Peele’s “Get Out”. (Photo credit: ‘Get Out’ / Universal Pictures via NextShark)

By Guest Contributor:  Melissa Phruksachart (@mphruksachart)

Though Jordan Peele’s Get Out has been primarily read (and marketed) as an excoriation of white liberalism, Peele actually asserts the multi-racial nature of white supremacy through the character of Hiroki Tanaka (Yasuhiko Oyama), a Japanese man.

This post contains spoilers of the movie “Get Out”. Please read on with caution.

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Watching “The ‘Other’ Love Story” Was The Perfect Way To Kick Off 2017

January 5, 2017

By Guest Contributors: Lakshmi Gandhi (@lakshmigandhi) and Asha Sundararaman (@mixedtck)

As soon as we saw this Autostraddle’s article about Roopa Rao’s web series “The ‘Other’ Love Story” we knew we had to binge watch it and devote a newsletter to it immediately. The twelve short episodes follow the lives of two teenage college students who meet and fall in love in late 1990s Bangalore.

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Against Antiblackness As Metaphor

December 19, 2016

Guest Contributor: Mark Tseng Putterman (@tsengputterman)

Asian American Twitter has been abuzz this week with news that Tilda Swinton singled out Margaret Cho to explain to her the backlash surrounding her whitewashed casting as “The Ancient One” in Dr. Strange. On a recent episode of Bobby Lee’s TigerBelly podcast, Cho described the odd email exchange with Swinton, who she had never met, explaining that it left her feeling like a “house Asian, like I’m her servant.”

While many commentators have rightfully jumped on Swinton’s behavior as another example of white people expecting people (especially women) of color to perform uncompensated intellectual and emotional labor, few have discussed how Cho’s coopting of the term “house Asian” represents a parallel trend of non-Black Asian Americans repurposing Black movements, analyses, and terminology for our own purposes.

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Rami Malek is set to play Freddie Mercury in the upcoming Queen biopic

November 5, 2016
Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury

By Guest Contributor: Lakshmi Gandhi (@LakshmiGandhi)

After seeing Hollywood green-light projects that actively erase Asian Americans from the silver screen (think Emma Stone playing Allison Ng or a whitewashed Doctor Strange) it’s understandable if  pop culture watchers reflectively flinch when they hear news of upcoming mainstream film projects featuring characters of color.

That’s also why I did a little squeal of glee in the middle of Starbucks on Friday when I saw the news that Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek was just cast as Freddie Mercury in the upcoming Queen biopic, which is titled Bohemian Rhapsody.  Malek’s casting is also hopefully a sign that this movie (which was first announced way back in 2007) is finally on the right track.

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