Beyond The Con #3
We’re barrelling through March at a rapid rate and loving every minute of it so far. Other than a few jitters about Stan Lee’s health, (see below) it’s all coming up Millhouse.
I’m getting pretty excited about Ironfest creeping ever closer. But there’s still a few smaller events to catch before heading to the mountains for some fun in the fog of war.
Meanwhile, here’s my list of Heroes and Villians for the week!
Hero 1: Ryan Reynolds helps these kids forget about the big C for a day
Yes, Deadpool himself reached out and along with the Make a Wish foundation welcomed a bunch of indomitable little guys and gals onto the set of Deadpool 2.
They hung out for a day taking selfies and generally kicking back with their hero. A few critics sniped at him on twitter for potentially ‘ruining the minds’ of a younger generation but in his usual sardonic style shot back without a second thought.
They all took home special one-off custom swords signed by the stars and even if it took their minds of their health issues for just a few hours it was time well spent.
Hero 2: Michael B Jordan kicks off a new era of inclusivity!
Fresh off the silver screen as one of the most popular villians of all time (Loki hand in your sceptre!), the rising star decided to flip things a little recently by committing his production company to adopt an ‘inclusion rider’ on all its future productions.
While Frances McDormand was the most famous proponent of such a scheme, mentioning it in a speech at the recent Academy awards, Jordan is the first to make it an official policy for a Hollywood production house.
It basically states that at least 50% of the cast and crew need to be diverse. While thats a little vague in detail, it’s a step in the right direction after decades of white washed cinema being churned out that didn’t reflect the audience that was watching it.
Stacey Smith, a Californian professor came up with the concept and brought it to public ears during a TED talk in 2016. It floated around the internet for a while until Jordan took up the challenge and put pen to paper.
Paul Feig, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck quickly jumped on board by having their studio Pearl Street Films adopt similar targets. Paul quoted as saying ‘It’s just common sense’.
Now of course, this shouldn’t mean that casting for a film like say, ‘Dunkirk’ (that was demonised by one critic for not having enough people of colour or women represented) should change dramatically.
In a setting where 99% of the characters were basically male and white, it would be absurd to shoehorn in casting choices which make no sense. However, it does make sense when it works. Case in point, the recent blockbuster Marvel’s Black Panther or even smaller roles like Idris Elba in Thor or Tilda Swinton in Dr Strange.
Whether their gender or race is integral to the role or completely irrelevant. If the actor kills it on screen and also brings a smile and hope to someone who otherwise wouldn’t have any, then that’s got to be a rare win-win for everyone.
Hero 3: Jade Anouka raises thousands for the Black Panther challenge
Started by Frederick Joseph in Harlem, New York the Black Panther Challenge specifically targets young people who would otherwise not be able to afford a movie ticket – let alone drinks and snacks. The campaign has gone viral all around the world with Fred even appearing on Ellen who also contributed a huge donation to the campaign and the inner city school he is associated with. In a small way, Wakanda did end up reaching out to people in need just like in the movie. How many films can claim that ?
If we had started this list earlier, Fred would definitely have earned his place. But this week, Jade Anouka gets a spot. She is billed as one of the next big things in British acting and this young lady went out of her way to provide a safe and happy place for hundreds of under-privileged inner city youths in London. Not only giving them free tickets to a special screening of Black Panther but making sure they got their fill at the snack bar too.
It’s just another Friday night for a lot of us, but for these kids and others all across the world it was a rare treat that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Big shout out to Jade and everyone else who participated in the Black Panther challenge.
Zero 1: Chevy Chase is basically Pierce Hawthorne in real life.
A comedy legend in the Seventies and Eighties, this elder statesman of acting and comedy dropped out of public consciousness until Dan Harmon plucked him out of retirement to star in Community.
Arguably one of the funniest ‘sitcoms’ set in a community college ever, the show shot him back into cultural significance and he quickly became a fan favourite. Playing an out-of-touch old, white rich guy, trying to connect with a younger generation and failing. He spawned endless memes making light of his uncanny abilitiy to be the most clueless and offensive guy in the room.
As the seasons progresses, many viewers noticed his scenes were moving out of the library with the rest of the group and would often be just him and one other character. His more sympathetic qualities seemed to disappear as he became almost ‘Flanderised’ into being a one-note antagonist to the rest of the group.
Recent articles have shed light on this with cast, crew and even Dan Harmon himself admitting Chevy Chase was difficult to work with.
There were constant racist jokes being made in between scenes (such as, telling co-star Donald Glover people only found him funny because he was black) and according to Alison Brie, some of his off colour comments would have made most women cringe at best.
Apparently, she would just turn it right back on him leaving him flustered and completely unaware of just how foolish he was starting to look. Eventually, the show wound up and since then, he’s popped up in a few small roles in straight to video movies like ‘Christmas in Vermont’ and ‘Federal offense’.
Actors who play ‘bad guys’ or ‘heels’ often joke about being called out and verbally abused by the public simply because of characters they played. But this might be one of the few cases where the criticism is justified.
Zero 2: Jerry Olivarez swindles Stan Lee
Stan Lee is one of the most tireless creators out there. It takes a lot to keep a good man down but for the first time in his ninety plus years, he has had to take a break. Starting with a severe bout of pneumonia recently he had to put the brakes on his usually relentless routine of appearances and the step back from the day to day business of running his multiple companies and charities.
At first, this went as expected. He made a brief video explaining why he couldn’t attend a meet and greet and tweets from the great and the small expressed their undying love and sympathy for the father of Marvel’s greatest heroes. Then step by step, it got weird. His long time companion and assistant Max was fired. There were claims on tabloid clickbait websites that nurses were complaining about wandering hands. Money was going missing. A business associate of his daughter got power of attorney and suddenly millions of dollars was going missing.
This man is Jerry Olivarez and this article by the Daily Beast is the most comprehensive I could find so far on the issue. It does knock down Max a few pegs, which is confusing as all of Stan Lee’s supporters all talk about how much of a steadfast friend to the family Max has been.
But everything else looks like it’s on the money, literally, with Tobey Maguire’s accountant brother Vince getting involved to try and make sense of what’s going on with the financial side of things. Yes thats right, Toby Maguire who played the original ‘Spiderman’.
Being a investigative accountant should help things along and another hero swoop in to save the day is Keya Morgan, a long time friend of the family. He quickly got power of attorney back to Stan’s daughter and is doing everything he can to put things right. Let’s hope that the next news coming out of the Stan Lee camp is only of the good kind and his legacy isn’t tampered with.
With Infinity War coming out soon, it would be nice if he can celebrate it’s premiere with all his friends around him. His big healthy grin on his mug is all we love seeing!
Zero 3: The Oscars snub Adam West!
The original Batman himself with half a century of contributing to pop culture behind him passed away in 2017 to an outpouring of grief all across the world. Flowers were laid at his Hollywood star and celebrities, creators and fans from across the spectrum celebrated his amazing life and listed his many efforts in furthering the reach and relevance of sixties Batman.
Yet in the recent Oscars memorium which purports to holds itself up as a ‘definitive’ list of ALL well known artists that who pass away since the last Oscars he was nowhere to be seen. Sure its just a few seconds of tribute given to each as they play a montage of their faces set to mournful music but it goes out to billions and apparently wasn’t considered worthy of even that.
Well he wasn’t alone with many other luminaries dropped from the line up and the internet quickly took up their banner with hundreds of articles popping up asking why so many significant people didn’t rate so much as a mention. Hopefully in future years whoever is behind that segment at the Oscars starts paying a little more attention to those who deserve one more moment in the spotlight before they slowly disappear in the pop culture ether.
Stephen Hawking 1942 – 2018
Stephen Hawking was informed with typical understated British reserve that he had two years to live at most…that was in 1963. Every year since he may have deteriorated physically but he went from strength to strength mentally, eventually changing the face of physics and selling millions of copies of his infamous book ‘The Brief History of Time’.
Arguably one of the most significant figures in science since Albert Einstein appearing in everything from ‘The Simpsons’ to ,well lets just say its a LONG list. He wasn’t loved by all of course, his steadfast skepticism about religion and controversial relationships with women kept the gossipy parts of the internet busy enough but he rose above any petty detractors and will go down in history as one of the greatest minds of all time.
A huge bucket of win for you good sir.
For the rest of you, a deep grateful bow and thanks for reading my take on things so far this year.
Stay tuned for the end of March wrap up and keep on keeping on!