Who Wants to Live Forever? (Josh Ritter’s “The Curse”)

If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to watch the video for “The Curse.” It’s one of the most melancholy and beautiful love stories I’ve seen in years.

I saw this video (lyrics here), and was floored. I was moved, saddened, and heartened in a way that I really hadn’t felt since I first heard Kansas’s “Dust in the Wind”

or (perhaps the greatest of them all) Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever,” from one of my favorite movies of all time, the criminally underrated Highlander.

 

 

Ruining My Childhood! Updating White Male “Franchises,” Part 3

Friday’s post about updating all-white, all-male franchises left one major, legitimate question unaddressed:

Why change existing franchises? Why not just make some new characters?

The answer is pretty simple:

These are the cornerstones of our popular culture, and right now they are all white or all male or both.

Think about it: Superman, The Avengers, James Bond, Doctor Who, Star Wars, and many others are white male territory. To be sure, there are exceptions, but they tend to either be niche products or come from the mind and estate of Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek, Andromeda, etc.).

Any new, diverse properties will be competing against these titans for a spot in the pop cultural pantheon.

And we’ve seen how that turns out for the “comic girls.” They’re seen as lesser, also-ran versions or sidekicks. As good as the new Supergirl tv series is, there’s no question that she’s a knock-off of Superman. And Batgirl is in many ways a sidekick character, at least in mass media (comics, alas, are no longer truly “mass” in the sense that tv and movies are).

And look at She-Hulk, as awesome a character as she is (civil rights lawyer, cosmopolitan fun-loving single woman, Avenger, Fantastic Four member, and fourth-wall breaker long before Deadpool was a twinkle in Deathstroke’s eye patch). She’s never seen on tv or movies, and on the rare occasion she ends up in so much as a cartoon, she gets demoted to a disgruntled “living greenscreen” stunt double.

But if the baton is passed in some way in a major mass media production, the popular culture is changed to better reflect the reality of the world it both represents and influences.

Star Wars: the Force Awakens added a new generation of leads: Rey, a woman, Poe, a Latino man, and Finn, a black man. It expanded the franchise, and certainly served as a refreshing counterpart to the tin-eared racism of the prequels.

For ensembles or teams like the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Avengers, this is easy. As the original (white, male) actors rotate off, bring a more diverse group of characters to the forefront. Marvel’s already starting to do this, with Black Panther and Captain Marvel movies already in various stages of pre-production, and with the addition of Scarlet Witch and Black Panther to the cast of Captain America: Civil War.

James Bond replaces its lead actor every decade or so anyway. Give Idris Elba a turn and see how it goes. If you want someone younger, try  It can’t be worse than the last half of Pierce Brosnan’s run.

Doctor Who has the same situation, with the Doctor’s regenerations. It’s easy enough to cast a woman, and/or a person of color.It isn’t hard to do. Some franchises are already doing it. It just requires the will to make it happen. And maybe if enough of us ask, it will start to happen. It’s already starting. The momentum might be unstoppable. I surely hope it is.Or we could just watch another 10,000 shows about white male antiheroes. Blech.

Old Friends with New Faces. Updating White Male “Franchises,” Part 2

A lot of people are floating the idea of Idris Elba being offered the job as the new James Bond (including current James Bond, Daniel Craig), though it appears at this moment that Tom Hiddleston is the first pick.

I think it could be a good idea. Sure, James Bond is a white guy, so far. A lot of the legacy characters, the franchise characters, are white men because when they were created 50+ years ago, that’s who the heroes/protagonists were.

These franchises have formed the bedrock of our popular culture for three generations. Nothing created today will have that kind of reach anytime soon. That takes time to build.

We get into the same thing with Doctor Who and most of the superhero franchises. Heck, even most of the Transformers are “male” (male voices and male-ish builds).

I think there’s a lot of room for adjusting some of the ongoing franchises so they don’t blindly stick to the mores of our grandparents’ and great grandparents’ generations.

I’m not saying you have to make Superman black, but when you decide to make a Green Lantern movie, think about John Stewart instead of Hal Jordan (it couldn’t be worse than the Green Lantern movie we got a few years back).

It means building a Justice League movie franchise that includes Wonder Woman, Cyborg (a black man), and Aquaman as portrayed by Jason Momoa (who is of Native Hawaiian descent). DC is getting that right, and doing it earlier than Marvel.

When Robert Downey Junior leaves the Marvel movies, put more focus on Rhodes (Iron Patriot/War Machine), or better yet, Riri Williams.

Why not cast Idris Elba as James Bond? He can still be native-born Scottish. He can still do all the Bond things. Let’s face it, the previous guys who’ve played Bond are all radically different from each other. Nobody would think of Connery and Dalton and Brosnan as the same person. And besides, Idris Elba is an outstanding actor with more than enough gravitas, charisma, and intensity for the role.

And if you don’t want to cast him as Bond, how about making him a future regeneration of the Doctor? I know, Stephen Moffatt has said he wants a female Doctor, but I personally think he write female characters poorly, especially compared to Russell T. Davies (previous Doctor Who showrunner). I’d rather wait for a Doctor Who showrunner who’s proven he can handle female characters well before we have a female Doctor.

There’s a lot that can be done, and is being done. But there are a lot of missed opportunities, as well.