Home » Features » Beyond the Con #6 April 26 2018
Beyond the Con #6 April 26 2018

Beyond the Con #6 April 26 2018

Your fortnightly-ish breakdown of the latest news and happenings in the cosplay and popculture world. We just spin things slightly differently by giving you our three favourite things and then three we aren’t so happy about.

However, I’m dropping the numbers down to two of each and adding a new feature on what we’re excited about: whether it’s on the big and small screen and who we say a fond farewell to.

Let us know if you agree on our Facebook page or in whichever group you saw this posted!

Hero 1: Mohammed bin Salman for allowing cinemas back in Saudi Arabia

A big pat on the back for the Saudi Arabian prince. He finally pushed through reforms that allow cinemas to open in the extremely conservative Wahhabist Muslim country.

Movies screened in Saudi cinemas will still be subjected to approval by government censors and last Wednesday night’s premiere of ‘Black Panther’ was no exception. Most violent scenes were not cut but a final scene involving a kiss was dropped from the final print.

Still, it’s a massive reversal for a country where public movie screenings were banned in the 1980s, during a wave of ultraconservatism that swept Saudi Arabia. Many Saudi clerics view Western movies and even Arabic films made in Egypt and Lebanon as sinful.

Despite decades of ultraconservative dogma, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pushed through a number of major social reforms with support from his father, King Salman, to satisfy the desires of the country’s now majority young population.

“This is a historic day for your country,” Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Entertainment, told the crowd at the screening. “It’s been about 37 years since you’ve been able to watch movies the way movies are meant to be watched in a theatre, together on a big screen.”

The social reforms undertaken by the 32-year-old heir to the throne are part of his ‘Vision 2030’: a plan to boost local spending and create jobs now that oil prices are falling. There’s no sight of a turn around.

The Saudi government projects that the opening of movie theaters will bring $26 billion to the economy and create more than 30,000 jobs by 2030. The kingdom also says that there will be at least 300 cinemas with around 2000 screens built by 2030.

In the 1970s, there were informally organised movie screenings but they were often interrupted by religious police, whose powers have since faded.

Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident Saudi writer, describes the theaters of the 1970s as being “like American drive-ins, except much more informal.” In a piece for The Washington Post, he wrote that a friend once broke his leg at a screening when he jumped off a wall to escape the religious police and avoid arrest.

By the 1980s, movie theatres were banned completely and the only way to watch a movie was to work in foreign embassies who would sometimes have private screenings.

Access to streaming services, such as Netflix and satellite TV have rapidly eroded attempts by the government to censor what the Saudi public can view. So they knew they couldn’t stop people watching the movies anymore and figured they might as well try and make some money. Finally allowing popular culture, both Western and local cinema back into the mainstream.

It won’t be just like everywhere else though.

The new movie theatres also come equipped with prayer rooms to accommodate the daily Muslim prayer times.

Hero 2: Superman turns 80 and celebrates his 1000th issue of Action Comics

We often include stories in here about those heroes who confirm my favourite hashtag, that #notallheroeswearcapes.

This time however we pay tribute to a hero who practically invented the cliché of a superhero who wears capes and leaps tall buildings in a single bound.

Yes, it’s the ubermensch himself: Superman.

So how do you go about celebrating the 80th birthday of the most famous and greatest superhero of all time?

With a 93-page extravaganza that not only celebrates the hero’s past, but also peeks into his future, of course.

Last week’s Action Comics #1,000 is a huge milestone in comic history. As it also marks the 80th anniversary of the creation of Superman in Action Comics #1 since it’s inception in 1938.

Featuring an impressive roster of writers and artists – including Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, Tom King, Scott Snyder, Peter J. Tomasi, Neal Adams, Brian Michael Bendis, Nicola Scott and many more – it is a fitting tribute to the Man Of Steel’s long and storied history.

Each writer was given five pages. Five pages ONLY to contribute their particular take on the eponymous hero. The only exception to this rule was the Brian Michael Bendis story which double that number.

A trivial but much talked about addition is the return of Superman’s classic red trunks, an odd side note is that almost every artist decided to do it without talking to the other creators.

It was like there was a sudden fifty degee turn to starboard and everyone agreed without needing to consult each other. The unique one off anthology is also a little different to the regular run as it gathers so many high calibre artists and let’s them run completely wild with almost no editorial oversight other than a few guiding principles.

They were never going to let Superman pee his pants – unlike Batman in one Kevin Smith penned storyline. But he does get a vicious beating in the Brian Michael Bendis chapter. His first outing for DC comics and arguably, not the strongest writing of the bunch.

A worrying sign when a book that has been celebrated for such a well crafted look at Supermans past and even more concerning given he is the new ‘showrunner’ for all the current ‘Superman’ comics.

Still, it seems like a worthy way to salute the 80th year of the superhero that started it all. Any collector worth their salt should have it boxed up in mylar as soon as possible!


Zero 1: Overwatch pro Jonathan “DreamKazper” Sanchez for sexting underage girls

In California, coercing a minor into sending child pornography is punishable with a felony. For a promising gaming superstar, that looks like where he is heading given his recent behaviour.

21 year old Jonathan was part of the Overwatch team ‘Boston Uprising’. An underdog team that like its name, quickly rose through the ranks of the Overwatch league beating New York.

Commentators singled Jonathon out as one of their best players and established players like Joon-Yeong ‘Profit’ Park called him the best western DPS player in the entire league.

His rising fame quickly crumbled when two girls, aged 16 and 14 came forward with screencaps of months of conversations on Twitter that painted him in a very poor light indeed.

Not only was he sending and asking for naked images from the girls. At one stage, he even bought plane tickets for one of them in a bid to have her stay at his hotel for a weekend.

It’s not clear yet whether he will be charged by the Police but either way, his career is over and two young girls have had their faith in men severely lost by this ordeal.

It may have started out innocent enough for them but being a celebrity, even a minor one and older than them gave him far too much power.  Whether it ever to be fair or consensual.

All we can do is hope justice comes to Mr Sanchez and he learns to change his attitudes towards women. For the two girls, they now need to recover from their ordeal and go onto lead full happy lives without it defining who they are.


Zero 2: Karl Stefanovic for whining about the release date of The Avengers

As I write this, today is ANZAC Day and Karl Stefanovic is a very angry man.

He is extremely mad that Avengers: Infinity War is going to be released on the 25th and he sincerely believes you should be too.

Stefanovic went on a rant about it on Today last week, saying the film’s release date “smacks to me of a grubby cash grab”, and calling on cinemas to “grab your cash somewhere else, exploit another day — not on what I believe is the most important day on our nation’s calendar.”

“How on earth are our kids supposed to breathe in the significance of Anzac Day?” he asked. “The sacrifices — the great sacrifices — the impact on our nation and our families. Pretty hard to do with a $25 popcorn and choc top I thought.”

I don’t know where he is buying his popcorn but he needs to shop around more, also the fact that the Avengers and other blockbuster films have been dropping on ANZAC day for years now didn’t seem to register. First screenings isn’t till around noon which is well after all Dawn services and parades have been completed.

By then, most people are gearing up for BBQ’s, footy games or a trip to the shops anyway. Why not enjoy a flick with the family? After all, that is what the ANZAC diggers fought for isn’t it? Our freedom to enjoy one of our few public holidays doing what we love most?

Upcoming Content that makes us SQUEE!!

Westworld Season Two has just kicked off in Australia on Foxtel. For those who aren’t willing to stump up the cash for the premium cable service, they have to wait a few more months for the boxsets to come out. There is, of course the very grey area that involves downloading it from risky websites and if you’re willing to risk that, then go for it. As long as you eventually put your money down then you do whatever is necessary to satisfy your cravings for the goings on of the most critically acclaimed Sci-fi series of all time.

Mythbusters Jr is still a few months out but marks a return for Adam Savage to the small screen. After 14 years on the original show, he became a household name and quickly known as the more playful of the duo who fronted one of the most entertaining science shows of all time.

It was relaunched with different hosts in 2016 and Adam went onto host the youtube show ‘Tested’ amongst other media commitments. He is reportadly very happy to be back in the fold of the show that started it all.

Guided by Savage, six of America’s most scientifically savvy kids will get the chance to show off their prowess and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) skills as they separate fact from fiction over the course of 10 episodes.

This should introduce a whole new generation of kids to the concept and hopefully inspire the next Elon Musk or Marie Curie.

Deadpool 2 is out on 19 May. With less than a month to go, it will be a good pick me up after the the buzz around Infinity War has died down. We need some laughs and post all the mourning of whichever character they decide to kill off in the Avengers movie.

It’s Captain America right? Please say it isn’t so.

Anyhoo we will move on but not without sharing this tidbit from the official IMDB summary of Deadpool 2 written (surely) by Ryan Reynolds himself:

“After surviving a near fatal bovine attack, a disfigured cafeteria chef (Wade Wilson) struggles to fulfill his dream of becoming Mayberry’s hottest bartender while also learning to cope with his lost sense of taste. Searching to regain his spice for life, as well as a flux capacitor, Wade must battle ninjas, the yakuza, and a pack of sexually aggressive canines, as he journeys around the world to discover the importance of family, friendship, and flavor – finding a new taste for adventure and earning the coveted coffee mug title of World’s Best Lover.”



Shows we will miss..

Ash VS evil dead

Unfortunately one of the funniest TV shows this decade has been scratched from the schedule for this year with season two marking the final outing for Ash and his crew. Bruce Campbell says he is officially retiring the character now that the death knell has sounded.
After the recent announcement of Dirk Gently’s holistic detective Agency’s cancellation this is a real kick to the teeth for edgy genre programming and all we can do is hope we see Bruce back in the saddle of something else just as exciting soon.

Also it was a great launch pad for his younger co-stars so bring on more of them, of course we can’t ignore the contributions from Lucy Lawless, a fellow genre veteran who bought her own considerable energy and fan following to the franchise.
If you haven’t seen this show yet then get on board, the final episode is yet to go live so you have plenty of time to catch up before all the spoilers are out there!

In Memoriam

R. Lee Ermey (“The Gunny”)
(March 24, 1944 – April 15, 2018)

An outspoken warrior both in real life and on screen this charismatic and inimidating man became the go to guy when you needed a drill sargeant to chew the scenery. He lived a long and fruitful life up until the ripe old age of 74.

It was his role in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 film Full Metal Jacket that brought him household recognition and critical acclaim; in addition to his Golden Globe nom, he also earned a best supporting actor award from the Boston Society of Film Critics.
He is best remembered for the numerous memorable lines he delivered as the no-nonsense sergeant: including: “What is your major malfunction, numbnuts? Didn’t mommy and daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?” and “I want that head so sanitary and squared away that the Virgin Mary herself would be proud to go in there and take a dump.”
The legend is that Ermey was originally hired to advise and train the actor who would play the role, but Kubrick was so impressed by what he saw, he offered Ermey the role.
He played a similar character in The Frighteners, which was directed by Peter Jackson and starred Michael J. Fox.

Other films credits include Mississippi Burning, Prefontaine, the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Fletch Lives and Se7en. He also had a healthy voiceover career, playing the lead of the green plastic Army solders in the Toy Story films along with a role in SpongeBob SquarePants, among others, and voice roles in multiple video games.
Hopefully he is up there right now making sure new recruits to heaven have their bunks squared away and boots so shiny they can see their own halo’s in the reflection!

Vernon Troyer
(January 1, 1969 – April 21, 2018)

The 49 year old Austin Powers star passed away last week from what Police suspect is alcohol poisoning and marks a sad end to a the life of a celebrated and troubled man.
Praised by his peers and mourned by millions of fans this diminutive actor punched well above his weight when it came to his performance, both in campy roles like his famous Mini Me character and more serious roles like Taylor Prentice in Boston Public.

“Verne was the consummate professional and a beacon of positivity for those of us who had the honour of working with him,” Mike Myers said in a statement.
TMZ reported in April that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone actor was hospitalised after a friend called the police and said Troyer was “extremely upset, drunk and suicidal.” He also was hospitalised for alcohol addition in 2017.

Troyer was born with achondroplasia, a genetic condition that kept him at 2 feet 8 inches (81 centimetres) tall.  He grew up Amish, although his parents left the religion when he was still a child.

He told the Guardian Newspaper he almost died as a baby when his parents found him unresponsive in his crib, having an infection.

“As we were Amish, we only had a horse and buggy [carriage] to get to the hospital, but that wasn’t going to be quick enough so we borrowed my aunt’s car,” he said.  “My parents were told there was nothing that could be done and Dad whisked me away to another hospital, where I was put in an oxygen tent, and thankfully I recovered”

So there we go, from a baby who was barely breathing to his first acting role years later as the stunt double for an actual baby in ‘Baby’s Day out‘ in 1994.   He then landed  a steady stream of small roles in “Men in Black” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” … before making it big as Mini-Me in 1999’s “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.”

He continued to land bit parts in comedies and appeared on many popular reality shows over the years like “Celebrity Juice,” “Celebrity Wife Swap,” and “The Surreal Life.”

We salute you Vernon. RIP


Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii
(8 September 1989 -20 April 2018 )

One of the most popular and successful electronic dance-music artists of all time — The Swedish DJ scored a No. 4 hit on the Billboard 200 in 2013 with “Wake Me Up” and regularly appeared in the Top 5 of Forbes’ “Highest-Paid DJs” lists — he retired from live performing in 2016 at the peak of his success.
He started his career when he won a production competition held by UK DJ Pete Tong in 2008. He went on to notch up 11 billion streams on Spotify and was the first EDM DJ to stage a worldwide arena tour and as Radio 1 DJ Judge Jules says, he was the first ever DJ to crack the American market.
He was nominated for two Grammy Awards and had nine UK top 10 singles, including two number ones

He suffered from health problems including acute pancreatitis, in part due to excessive drinking.
This eventually took its toll and he said this while being filmed for a documentary in 2016.  “When I was 16, my father said, ‘You can do anything you want with your life, you just have to be willing to work hard to get it.’ That’s when I decided when I die, I want to be remembered for the life I live, not the money I make.”

“I have said, like, I’m going to die. I have said it so many times. And so I don’t want to hear that I should entertain the thought of doing another gig.”

He retired to get help but clearly it was all too little too late and he passed away in a hotel room in Oman at the age of 28. While his success is undeniable he also at least achieved his dream of being remembered for his music and good character rather than his wealth.

Well thats all for this week, please let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page!


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