Star Trek Beyond Trailer #2 Locked on Baby Boomers + Millennials

The third movie in the latest Star Trek film franchise launched a new trailer yesterday. Star Trek Beyond won’t premier until late July this year, but it is already hooking in the Baby Boomer and Millennial target audiences.

 

All Phasers locked on Baby Boomers

In an interesting shift from the previous two movies, this trailer hints that the movie will focus on the relationship between Bones and Kirk, rather than the Sprik dynamic that climaxed in Into Darkness’s role-flip of the iconic Wrath of Khan character development scenes. The entire first minute of the two minute, twenty-four second trailer is devoted to two older characters advising the young Kirk. The opening dialogue between Bones and Kirk delves into the young captain’s struggle to live up to his father’s legacy. Kirk self-deprecatingly claims “I joined [Starfleet] on a dare” and Bones corrects him, “you joined to see if you could live up to [your father].” Bones continues to advise Kirk, and the next voice added to the dialogue is that of an older woman ( 64 year old, new-to-the-franchise Shohreh Aghdashloo,) who also counsels Kirk on the dangers of space.

Later in the trailer, Dr. McCoy appears again to impart wisdom to a junior. This time, Spock claims, “Fear of death is illogical,” and once again, Bones counters the younger’s position: “Fear of death is what keeps us alive.” Continue reading

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New-York Historical Society Plans ‘Summer of Hamilton’ — ArtsBeat

Over the July 4 weekend the New-York Historical Society will kick off its “Summer of Hamilton.”

via New-York Historical Society Plans ‘Summer of Hamilton’ — ArtsBeat

…And no one was surprised. “Hamilton” blog articles coming soon.

“The Kiss” Viral Image Offers Commentary beyond the Shock Value

Photo-credit: Petras Malukas/AFP/Getty Images via BBC Culture

Photo-credit: Petras Malukas/AFP/Getty Images via BBC Culture

A piece of street art from Vilnius, Lithuania has been hitting the internet hard this week. The image depicts expected Republican nominee for the US Presidency, Donald Trump, in an unblinking embrace with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  From the perspective of an artist from the former Soviet bloc, this depiction reflects a cautionary wariness of the future should  Trump be elected. Internationally, its viral popularity illustrates a new dimension to the transnational dialogues on homophobia, xenophobia, and “conservative politics.”

Read more about this image:
BBC Culture Article: “a closer look at the mural reveals a level of subtle political commentary that cuts against the superficial sensation” http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20160518-what-does-the-trumpputin-kiss-really-mean

Update: Terrorism in Europe

Less than a week after James Taylor’s Facebook cry for European solidarity against terrorism, we see another terrorist attack on European soil. This time it takes place in Brussels. This time we have social media mobilisation, hashtags, as well as visible shows of support from Downing Street to the Elysee Palace.

I, personally, have received information that the Turkish government has cracked down on its citizens’ reporting of terrorist attacks and that many people there are organizing and spreading information of how to post Facebook and other social media reports from foreign IPs. I’ve not seen reports of such nature in the Associated Press. If you see something, feel free to forward it to me.

 

Link: “Downing Street Raises Belgium flag and we tweet for Brussels, but where was this sympathy after Ankara? Our indifference is fuelling organisations like ISIS” http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/downing-street-raises-the-belgian-flag-and-we-tweet-for-brussels-but-where-was-this-sympathy-after-a6946271.html

Soc. Media Rallying Cry for Solidarity against ISIL Falls Flat

On Sunday, March 13th, Ankara was assaulted once again by a terrorist attack. This is the third high-casualty terrorist attack in the past five months, and many Turkish citizens are wondering why more people around the world aren’t rallying Ankara. In one Guardian editorial, the author asks, “Where was our “Je Suis” moment?”

 

This particular quote is from a call for European solidarity by British expat pianist James Taylor. His 400 word Facebook post “went viral,” and subsequently was picked up by not only the Guardian, but also Metro News, Huffington Post, and a slew of other web news sources. This post asked the European community, “It is very easy to look at terror attacks that happen in London, in New York, in Paris and feel pain and sadness for those victims, so why is it not the same for Ankara? “ However, Ankara does not have the soft power that London, New York, and Paris have over affluent nations.The global citizens Taylor is trying to reach have probably never heard Turkish pop song, seen a Turkish film, or read a book from a Turkish author. While the popular aphorism generally declares that “culture drives commerce,” in this case, culture also drives compassion, and there are not enough cultural ties to cash in on solidarity between people separated by a continent or an ocean. His poignant call for empathy fell on ears who already are overwhelmed with compassion fatigue and who see Turkey as “other” rather than “us”. Continue reading

“Snapshots of American Culture: Japanophilia and the Otaku” now on Amazon

Learn more about this subculture that lies in the intersection of internationalism and fan culture. Now available in paperback directly from the printer (and higher royalties to the author- https://www.createspace.com/5262447 ) and from Amazon ( link ).  In exchange for some promotional marketing, I’ve secured a 90-day exclusivity contract with Amazon for the ebook version, available here.

front cover

 

Book description: Why do we love Japanese culture? What inspires hundreds of thousands of Americans to travel to anime cons each year? What are cons? What role does fanfiction play for the anime-loving community? How does Japanese culture influence our own? Can we predict what stories will be popular both in the US and Japan? This book answers these questions and more, offering insight into this unique and trendsetting facet of American culture as our world enters into an era of global art exchange unrestricted by geography.

“Je suis Charlie” Lighting up USian Social Media

Captured from linked Tumblr post, original photo credit to London's Telegraph.

You probably remember in Fall of 2012 when the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) gained international notoriety for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed (including some illustrations of him nude).

Earlier today, three masked gunmen opened fire at this paper’s headquarters in Paris, killing a dozen people and wounding another eleven before speeding away.

According to Al Jazeera America, thousands of people all across Europe have gathered in major cities, holding vigils in solidarity for the lives lost to this terrorist act of violence.

Awareness in the US is also gaining momentum as social media posts on Twitter using the #JeSuisCharlie and #IamCharlie tags, as well as photos of the solidarity rallies coming across posts on tumblr. In the pictures, participants hold up lighted placards declaring that they are “not afraid,” while other groups hold up pens to signify their belief in freedom of expression.

Tumblr: http://roryinfinity8.tumblr.com/post/107449158568/the-gasoline-station-not-afraid-source-the

 

Al Jazeera America: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/1/7/je-suis-charlie.html

ABC news: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/je-suis-charlie-message-viral-paris-attack-28064199 

Captured from linked Tumblr post, original photo credit to London's Telegraph.

Italian PSA making waves on Tumblr

This anti-domestic violence (anti-violence against women) video is making its rounds on Tumblr and I expect to see it popping up on my Facebook soon. It’s stimulating a lot of discussion over why men shouldn’t hit women and exploring ways to eliminate the cause of domestic violence. Have a look for yourself:

Tumblr: http://verboden-toegang.tumblr.com/post/107339821148/what-happens-when-you-put-a-boy-in-front-of-a-girl

The latest, and final, chapter in the legal struggle for Sherlock

Many fan fiction writers have been following the legal efforts of a group of Sherlockians in their pursuit to publish an anthology of fanwork without paying the hefty fee the Estate of Arthur Conan Doyle alleged they were owed. The Supreme Court upheld their claim that the characters published in 1887 were outside of the 75 year copyright lockout. It is important to note that storylines and characters written after 1923 are stipulated to being still inside the copyright, and therefore not yet in the public domain.

Now the final chapter: The Court of Appeals has denied the Estate’s appeal of that decision.

More info/source: Free Sherlock blog November 2014: Petition Denied.

A Feminist Walks into Gamergate…and Walks out on the Side of the MRAs

This past August saw a precipitous rise in the public awareness of the deep seated sexism and misogyny within videogame culture. Two events highlighted the chauvinism. First a climax in the hate campaign against videogame designer Zoe Quinn, who was the target of slanderous remarks that her games received good reviews on the site Kotaku from sleeping with the critics. When an actor, most well-known for his role in the Geek classic Firefly, echoed the virulent opinion of these malcontents, he coined the #Gamergate tag and became a spearhead and point of legitimization for the anti-women movement.

More recently, Anita Sarkeesian, an infamous videogame culture critic most well-known for her “Tropes Vs. Women in Videogames” webseries, cancelled her upcoming keynote address at Utah State University after receiving a threat of a mass-shooting at the venue, and the school not taking necessary steps to ensure her, and her audience’s, security.

The videogame community is polarized: on one hand, you have feminists (or feminist allies) who believe that much of videogame culture is misogynistic and wish for this to change by increasing the visibility of games that have more even-handed portrayals of gender. One the other hand, are a select few, but very powerful and well organized, male gamers who believe that women are taking over their artform and calling for the censorship of their favorite games. It is important to note that the goals of one side do not respond or address the goals of the other. In plainer terms, the goals of the sides are not mutually exclusive, as one would believe them to be, considering the fiery opposition and tension between them.

I consider myself in the first camp, but, in an exercise of empathy, let me try to address the calls to action of the polarized, masculine minority. They believe with absolute certainty that women are calling for the censorship of their favorite games. I have no idea from where this idea originated. No artist nor journalist would ever call for or endorse censorship. It is contrary to their self-interest to promote state mandation of art and eliminating free speech. The notion is groundless and only exists to give a fervent fire and invoke the idea of rights being infringed.

This leads us to the first call of action against women who are supposedly taking over the videogame artform, threatening men’s historical and traditional centerplace in this culture. These men are grievously upset by the idea of women-creators in their art.  

This is the crux of their argument, and the point from which all the hate starts. Why are they experiencing this emotional response?

Bear with me for a contextual tangent. I studied political science in uni, and during my sophomore year, I studied the United Nation’s Declaration of Human Rights. This document was created on the heels of the Second World War, and was adopted by the UN in 1948. Article 27 in this historical document details a universal right to art. At the time, learning that the UN included such a superfluous right, in the very  same document that mandated a freedom from slavery and torture, mystified me. I agree that art is important, but is it truly that important?

Yes, it is. Art is a type of expression that all individuals utilize. We communicate through our paintings, our songs, and dance. While some artists live and die for their art, no person is untouched by some form of art. It permeates our culture and our lives. On the level of the individual, certain people are inclined towards certain arts: one who has aptitude to visualize three dimensional space may become a successful architect, one who has high color distinction and love of textures may enjoy fashion design, a lover of words may write, and so on.

In the USA, while each person has a right to art and to create, we do not protect all artists equally.  While it is easy to see the community split apart on the lines of race and class, we must not forget that gender also plays its part in shaping of the art community. Men are regularly excluded from the USian art community. How? Simply put, making art, in nine cases out of ten, is seen as an anti-masculine activity. Men who are artists are not as masculine as their non-creative peers, especially in blue-collar culture. This idea is wrapped up with the common preconceived notion that artists, especially those in visual arts, are effeminate or gay. Want to be fashion designer? Painter? Composer? God forbid, dancer? It is hard to partake in any of these forms without your masculinity being called into question by both women and men.

Now, of course, not all artforms in the US are subject to this split, however, the rift does cause pressure on the forms where men are in charge, and in these forms we see a sort of hypermasculinity emerge. In literature. In rap music. And now, in videogames.

A blue-collar man cannot say he is fond of drawing, but he can say he designs characters for videogames. A boy in the projects cannot say he enjoys composing classical music, but he can say he creates music for FPS games. A teenaged young man cannot say he storytelling or thinking of different ways to tell a story, but he can be an RPG script writer.

As women start invading these roles, these men are, rightfully so, afraid of the idea that their outlet for art will not longer be seen as a masculine occupation of their time and a manly way to utilize their talents. I don’t think that these thoughts are ever expressed in such words, but the undercurrent is there.

These men have a basic human right to art. We have created a society that alienates them from that right, and so they have clung to the few artforms that we allow them to be apart of and maintain their self respect and esteem.

In conclusion, I am in complete support of men being allowed to participate in and create art without their integrity and manliness being called into question. We, as feminists, need to support men in their right to art as much as we support women, and as broadly. If we eliminate the dire need for a male haven of art, we will alleviate the reflex, gut-reaction of right infringement, disenfranchisement, and disempowerment.