A Bond With Racism

Trigger Warnings – Some strong language

Ok, Christmas obligations dealt with, let’s get back to the normal routine with this blog shall we? I’ve passed over some interesting subjects for the sake of doing some Christmassy stuff but I want to cover these before they fade from the attention of the public and so without further adieu, I want to talk about the recent leaked tidbit of information that Sony want Idris Elba as the next James Bond. Idris Elba, perhaps my audience know him best as Heimdall of the Marvel Thor franchise and you’re probably all aware that he is black, something that James Bond isn’t typically portrayed as. Now, anyone with half a brain can tell what happened when this info became public, opinions were polarised between “Why not? He’s a great actor, go Idris!” and “James Bond as a black man? OUTRAGE! Fuck the minorities ruining everything!”. I’m here to represent the former, in particular, taking opposition to some of the most ridiculous arguments as to why he shouldn’t be allowed to take on this role after Daniel Craig.

Film buffs, do not despise me but do you remember when Ben Affleck was announced to be the next Batman? My reaction was not one of anger but acceptance, I mean, he’s an established actor, writer, director and nerd, he’s got the physical requirements and the fact nobody could imagine him as being this tough vigilante meant he’d be all the more believable as Bruce Wayne, rather than looking like a slab of muscular man meat forced into a suit and trying to enjoy fancy dinner parties, this’d be a guy who could equally at home in his mansion as his cave. I felt that was important, too many people see Batman as the mean nitty-gritty dark hero because of Frank Miller’s work but a comic book franchise needs to do more than just brood in the shadows and say “Look, this is serious now, don’t laugh at the bat costume, it’s fucking cool”, it’s still a rich boy playing out a power fantasy in dress up, let’s at least PRETEND he occasionally gets off on it, rather than sulk around everywhere spouting poetic rubbish. However, people really get attached to fictional characters and when you shake up how they see them being played, they get really upset – a concept of there being a female Doctor, a black Captain America, a female Thor – you announce these things and fans lose their shit, sure a franchise is as much about the fans as the creators but you have to let a franchise shift and change or it goes stale, that’s where nitty gritty Batman came in, the original Batman was the campiest American family friendly silliness going in comics, Frank Miller made Batman into a dark hero and then suddenly people saw Batman as nothing else, not realising that this was pigeon-holing possibilities and leading DC Comics into a filthy rut.

So, looping back to the discussion at hand, this is the same deal with James Bond, people see James Bond, they think a suave British fellow driving cars really fast, banging hot babes and blowing shit up, essentially another entitled white guy living out fantasies with a seemingly infinite pool of resources. Idris Elba is our Ben Affleck Batman then, he doesn’t LOOK like the preconceived notion of the character, ergo, he can’t be the character. Well last time I checked, Idris Elba is British and by the way, the idea that James Bond was always a Scottish man is false, that was something Ian Fleming changed his mind on after seeing Sean Connery in the role so you know, clearly even the creator can bend the rules on the character, why can’t we? Idris Elba is a great actor and maybe he’ll play the Bond we all know and love as this reckless drunken gadgethead or maybe he’ll play a different Bond, a more sombre and pensive bond like Roger Moore once did perhaps? The beauty of fictional characters is we can interpret them in different ways and each different portrayal of that character brings a new element that fans can discuss, grow to love and fantasise about even newer ideas – this is how Doctor Who refreshes itself after all, each Doctor is different, you have your hate-filled lone wolf Eccleston and you have your silly lunatic Smith, fictional characters can change, they can adapt and each new combination of actors and writers open a world of possibilities.

Rush Limbaugh weighed in on this choice and said it was akin to a white guy playing Barack Obama, admitting it sounded racist but he went by the logic of comparing James Bond to Barack Obama, here’s why that’s a shallow argument. I know James Bond is based on actual facts, loosely, Ian Fleming got the idea from things that did happen but by and large, this is a made up guy, a story, a collection of pieces of paper that can be throw away or corrected. Barack Obama, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, they’re real people and you can’t have them portrayed by white guys because what was significant about their stories was the fact they were black, that’s what made them stand out in history, not just their accomplishments but the fact that they were the greats of black American history. The first black president, the black man who fought the white system without ever raising a weapon – changing them to white guys changes the story, it’s no longer a moving tale of a minority overcoming adversity to make the world a fairer place, it becomes the story of a minority being sent a white saviour to rescue them from their oppressors. Barack Obama and James Bond are two different kettles of fish – one of them is a fictional character, the other a historical figure. You can have a black man be Bond because Bond is the story of a super spy fighting super villains and having lots of sex, that has no skin colour requirements, but to portray the first black president in a film, you kinda need to be black for the film to make sense.

So, Rush, I doubt you’re reading but it is racist to suggest George Clooney play Barack Obama but it is not a problem to have Idris Elba play a made up spy in a film that is nowhere close to being real. As for worrying about them darn minorities stealing away our fictional characters, calm down, it doesn’t take a great deal of strain to list your top ten white male heroes in fiction does it? Or top twenty, or thirty… point being, you have a lot to choose from, not every last one of them will be ‘stolen’ and even if they were, so what? If you have a problem with a black Bond or a black Captain America, you need to think about that internalised racism you have going on in your mind and seriously ask yourself why these made up people HAVE to look the way you imagine them? Do minorities not deserve to look up to characters like James Bond or Doctor Who and think “That could be me one day, I could be the next actor to play Bond!” or is daydreaming an exclusively white privilege?

Thanks as always for reading, credit goes to my friend Millie for giving me the idea, I saw her Facebook status on the topic and decided to delve into the subject myself after meaning to do so earlier. You can check her out at the link below (As in her writing, not actually oggle at her, that’d be weird)

http://www.fatalfeminism.wordpress.com

And as usual, please like, share, subscribe and check out my Facebook page. One little like on there and you’ll get to see these posts as soon as they roll out, as well as seeing more of the man behind the keyboard and sharing in the odd Facebook conversation or strange status with Old Man Wolfe himself – an honour I know, I spoil you folks.

For the record, I’m not that arrogant, my ego is actually really fragile, please like something

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Chains Of Avarice

Trigger Warnings – None

Christmas is coming, unless you’re Australian, it already came, or you don’t celebrate Christmas in which case I apologise, this article probably won’t interest you. As I was, Christmas is coming, it’s almost here for us here in the UK and so in honour of that occasion, I plan to do two little Christmassy posts, today and tomorrow. Yes, I am that dedicated to you my readers that I will be giving you all the gift of two festive posts, I hope it beats another ugly tie or pair of socks. Granted, your feet will be no warmer but perhaps your mind will be a little more open.

Right off the bat, I’m going to assume we all know the story of the Christmas Carol, if not then you either REALLY don’t celebrate Christmas to the point of not acknowledging it even exists or when someone mentions fiction, you look confused like “People write stuff that’s not true? I thought that was just The Sun?”. Zinger, I know. Anyway, as a brief recap the Christmas Carol is the story of a greedy businessman called Scrooge being visited by the ghost of his dead friend Jacob telling him to change his ways or spend eternity bound in the chains of his greed and so Scrooge is visited by spirits that show him visions of his past, present and future which upset, disturb and enlighten the old miser so that come Christmas morning, he becomes a jolly philanthropist like none other. I’ve sometimes questioned if Scrooge actually changed or if he was just scared straight, certainly in the actual novel he has a hellish time of it meeting his unwanted daughters, seeing his own gravestone and realising that everyone who has ever been important to his life resents him, but he keeps the spirit of the season well and being scared into good will by visions of chains is much akin to having the moral imperative of virtuous behaviour for fear of fire and torture in eternity.

Erhem, pretentious musings aside, I love the Christmas Carol story, it’s one thing I have always wanted to act in but never have (Incidentally, as either Scrooge himself or Bob Cratchit), my acting career has never really existed beyond some dynamic reading and a bit part in a school play. My favourite interpretation of the story you ask? Well, I love the one filmed in Shrewsbury but I most commonly watch the Muppet version, I like how it brings forward the core message of the story in a way children and parents can watch, it’s devoted to the story but not too seriously and it’s much more visually pleasing with colourful puppets and impressive acting than say, plain old animated versions for kids – we all know kids engage more with anthropomorphic characters than emulated realism. I bring up the Christmas Carol because I feel there’s an important part of the message people forget and that is just why Scrooge needed to change his ways. You’ll probably shrug and say “Come on Jake, he was greedy, all he cared about was money and he was a bitter old man ignoring those in need, that’s a bad guy, the story is his redemption”. Key point there, he was greedy, the story is about how his GREED is a curse, not his money. Greed has a much broader definition than a lust for gold and silver.

I often get called Scrooge for not being festive out the wazoo as I don no antlers, wear no silly jumpers and don’t constantly burst with excitement, nor do I sing along to any carol or song but I think a modern Scrooge would actually take part in those things, Scrooge is not a caricature as simple as “Don’t like wreaths of holly? You grinch!”, give Dickens more credit than that, Scrooge is a man made bitter by years of isolation and he lusts for money because money doesn’t betray people, money makes sense, money can be understood in ways you can’t apply to people. So why would a modern Scrooge enjoy Christmas? The focus of greed has changed in the past few years, money is something we all yearn for, even those who have it, so judge someone by their drive for financial success is plain hypocrisy but what is truer now than it was in Dickens’ time is a greed for consumerism, a desire for receiving gifts and getting what we want, ensuring our Christmas is the best it can be, a modern Scrooge is the guy who has a clear cut Christmas list you can’t deviate from or he’ll begrudge, a man who doesn’t always return kind gestures at this time of year, a man who complains when he receives the accursed wrong gift. I’m looking at you entitled children of the world, your parents got you the wrong make of iPhone? You’re the Scrooge now, your selfish greed will be your undoing.

At this time of year, some of us go overboard, in particular parents wanting to spoil their children rotten with brilliant presents, which can present a problem. I saw a Facebook post recently that made me think, parents shouldn’t label games consoles and bikes as being gifts from Santa because then less fortunate children might question as to why Santa got them some new jumpers and a couple of action figures whilst his best friend Timmy got an XBOX One and an iPad. Maybe this is the poor boy in me speaking but I resent such spoilt children and people who do so, it is excessive and only fuels this greed in the child, who will expect more and more as the years go on. I got games consoles at Christmas, sure, but it wasn’t mine, it was a shared gift and even then Dad would tell us “If you want something so big for Christmas, Santa will have to bring you less gifts to make room!”, which we agreed to, even by needy child logic that seemed fair. Do not make your children slaves to greed and if you must buy them big gifts, tell them it was you that bought it, not Santa, make it fair and help your child realise that the gift is not just a reward for good behaviour, but a sacrifice and an investment made by those that love them and should be revered as such. If you say Santa gets them everything, their love is for Santa that day, not the parent and they feel they deserve everything they get in life, which is a terrible lesson to teach because it’s not true – good work can go unrewarded.

Greed and impatience are cornerstones of our society really, aren’t they? That cannot be avoided but if it could, this is the time of year for it. We all neglect certain people in our lives, mostly those that are strangers to us, but let us not forget that it was greed that doomed Scrooge, not money, Scrooge didn’t find salvation in throwing every shilling he had into a lake, he found it in selflessness – buying a feast for his loyal clerk, rekindling the love lost in his relationship with his nephew, donating to charity – money in itself can be used as a force for good if the person that holds it knows to keep the spirit of selflessness in their heart

As always readers, thanks for your time and a Merry Christmas to you all! Please, spread the word, let us remember what this time of year is all about! Remember to like, comment and follow me on Facebook at my official page, call it a gift to me from you!

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The Tea-Drinker’s Return

Trigger Warnings – None

Hey folks, it’s getting late again, my timetable was fiddled with by forces outside of my control that pushed everything back an hour so for now I need to find something to tide over until tomorrow because I like to keep the posts coming daily. However, with the only interesting subjects to mind being subjects that deserve full detail and not just a rushed effort before that late night hour that marks an end to views for the night, I find myself once again just looking for a topic to go over for now so I decided to reveal a little more about TDWC and its origins as well as its future, or at least, its hypothetical future at this stage

TDWC, that stands for Tea-Drinking Wisecracker, a working title that stuck, is the story of Lee Patience, a demon that hunts demons with the help of human companions and the characters have gone through several minor tweaks and hairstyles to try and create a working formula for adventure and comedy. TDWC combines a lot of ideas I’ve had into one beloved brainchild, using recycled ideas from old projects and drawing upon inspiration from the very shows and games it emulates such as Devil May Cry, Doctor Who and Archer. I had always wanted to do something using a character like Lee, who initially started out a very serious one-liner kind of man but gradually became a little more laidback and humorous as he was further developed

Lee and Katakura are actually both heavily inspired by my own personality and a few friends, as well as certain idols of mine from various points of my life. Lee is a fantasy, Katakura is reality and they also both represent the archetypes of the British TV hero – a handsome youngster in a big coat being brilliant and a tough-as-nails working class bloke dressed in various shades of brown. The chemistry is akin to Sherlock and Watson, though actually draws more heavily from internal conflicts and from the relationship between Masamune Date and Kojuro Katakura of Feudal Japan, thus leading to Katakura’s codename, as he studies history for a hobby. As for Valerie and Obadiah, well they’re based on a number of friends and characters from Archer, a personal favourite show of mine (A fan of TDWC and Archer may notice the Valerie/Lana and Obi/Cyril similarities)

To those who don’t know me in my personal life, you’re no doubt confused who Valerie is, the third incarnation of TDWC is not available on my blog at present but I hope to present the fourth to the world somehow. First things first, the scripts, characters and plot are all being worked on. I want to add another female lead role to counter Valerie, she won’t physically participate in the action like Valerie but might work as tech support or the head of the armoury. Valerie needs some work to avoid the typical “Grumpy woman brought along on a wacky adventure” persona that most female third-wheels experience. I also want the series arc to be stronger throughout, making more subtle nods to the finale rather than lumping it in halfway through and expecting my audience to be interested just because. TDWC bears the brunt of my experimentation and failure because it is entirely malleable as a work of art and more a project of fun than actual serious ambition, though seeing it on TV would actually make me weep with joy

I would make TDWC into a web series but lack the funding and the actors, as well as scripts, props, technology, directing skills, basically everything you’d need to make a web series. Casting would be a nightmare too, could you imagine trying to get a forty something Manchurian, a mid twenties Londoner and a Welsh woman in her early twenties all in the same place every week/month to do a YouTube video? Not impossible but not easy. Still, that’s far in the future and this would probably look better animated with a voice over I should think, who knows? I sure don’t, I’m always hacking this thing to bits

Ah, the writer’s curse, anything you write, you cross out and try and improve upon minutes later, much like the curses falling upon an artist. Oh well, I’ll get there, maybe one day I’ll have enough faith in a project to see it from start to finish and into publication as a book, a comic book series, a tv show, a movie, freakin’ anything other than a pile of papers in a bin

Sorry today’s post was probably not what you were looking for, though you’ve probably come to expect this distractions from the battle for equality right? Happens often enough. I hope that tomorrow things will be back to normal, at least this time I had no control over it, yesterday I was just indecisive and time got away from me