Rejecting the Mere Optics of Diversity: Why I Support AAPI Independent Media

A panel from Monstress, by Marjorie Liu, published by Image Comics.
A panel from Monstress, by Marjorie Liu, published by Image Comics.

2015 has been an interesting year for me.

I’ve always identified as a proud fangirl – a lover and connoisseur of all things in nerd and pop culture. I’ve routinely brought my fandom into my writing with pieces that explore the intersection of race and gender with film, television, and comic books. I’ve done my fair share of live-tweeting Walking Dead episodes, and I’ve geeked out with the best of them over comic book superheroes and their live-action incarnations.

But in the last year, I’ve grown disenchanted with mainstream media. I’ve grown to hate the hype. Above all, I’ve developed a frustration with mainstream studios, and our preoccupation as communities of colour with major studio blockbuster films as a backdrop for enacting social justice and racial equality.

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“Advantageous”: Smart, Subtle and Sorrowful Science Fiction By Women of Colour Filmmakers

advantageous-movie

“We’re looking for someone that’s a little more… universal.”

This line — uttered by James Urbaniak’s character Fisher in Jennifer Phang and Jacqueline Kim’s new science fiction film Advantageous — hit me like a punch to the sternum.

Body transformation and body switching is a staple of science fiction, featured in movies like Face-OffXchange, and most recently Self/less. In most of these films, body switching is treated as a convenient plot device for wacky hijinx to ensue, typically devoid of serious consideration of race and gender politics.

In Advantageous, however, screenwriters Jennifer Phang and Jacqueline Kim (who also stars in the movie) offer a refreshing and long overdue take on the body switching concept. Informed, perhaps, by Phang and Kim’s own identities as women of colour, Advantageous focuses specifically on the ramifications of body switching technology on race, gender, and interpersonal identity. The resulting film is a deeply emotional exploration of one woman’s love for her daughter and, to my knowledge, one of the first Asian American feminist science fiction films in history.

The following post contains spoilers.

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