Despite being an avid lover of ghost stories and haunted houses, I’m not much of a horror movie fan. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to this film genre – I saw the film Quarantine and barely slept for a few days and there were some episodes of the show Supernatural that freaked me out if I watched them too late at night. But when the film Get Out came out with wild praises, I was intrigued by and ultimately loved the film.
Honestly, I was kind of excited to see the new live action Beauty and the Beast. Like some people my age, I grew up on Disney and Dreamworks films. I knew many of the popular songs by heart and The Lion King was one of the first movies I remember watching. I would daydream of going to Disneyland or Disneyworld and while I don’t think she’s perfect, I love the idea of Emma Watson as Belle.
But there’s a part of the movie that I feel conflicted about: LeFou being gay. Because of this tiny subplot, there’s an Alabama theater not showing the film, Russia has banned those under 16 from seeing it, and Malaysian censors requesting that the tiny scene showing him dancing with another man, all of which makes me want to see it just to spite them. And from what I hear, this subplot is one of the tiniest points in the entire film.
Learning about others and deconstructing your own biases and assumptions is critical in any sort of activist work. There are books, films, television shows, podcasts, YouTube videos, and so much more that cover a wide range of issues and topics. Some films and television shows to watch in this current era include:
Despite being a massive Harry Potter fan, I was late to the game watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. But I finally saw it a few weeks ago and loved it, in large part because of all the new things the film brings to that universe. From history to character insight to a new wizarding world, there was just so much more to this film than I really anticipated.
The actual production and acting in this film were amazing – Eddie Redmayne was great as Newt and I surprisingly loved Colin Firth as Graves, although I could have done without the creepy relationship between Graves and Credence. The costumes were so amazing and I would love to have Newt’s blue coat. And the special effects that created the beasts were so incredible. It was so much fun to meet all the creatures because other than a select few in the Harry Potter books and films, we don’t really meet that many magical creatures.
During its initial release and promotion, I wrote about Roland Emmerich’s 2015 film Stonewall and about how the film was essentially not representative of what happened during the 1969 Stonewall Riots. I wasn’t the only one to critique the film before even seeing it – the hashtag #NotMyStonewall brought up a variety of criticisms for the film and of the decision to center a cis, white gay man rather than the real life people who were present.
And for over a year, I forgot about the film. It didn’t seem to really do that well, getting only 10% from Rotten Tomatoes, and despite being friends with a large amount of LGBTQ+ folks, I honestly don’t really know anyone who actually went to see it. But a few weeks ago, I was staying at a place that didn’t have internet and because the one video rental place in town was having a special deal of renting five videos for the price of three, I decided to finally see what Stonewall (2015) was all about.
I know I’m several years late to the game (pun intended) but a few weeks ago, I finished all the books and two of movies from The Hunger Games series. I had been peripherally involved in the fanfare of the series when the movies first started coming out through a few good friends but it took finding used copies of the books to really spark my interest in the girl on fire (pun yet again intended).
For those who don’t know, the series takes place in a dystopian future in which North America is now separated into thirteen districts and ruled by a Capitol. A savage rebellion and war between the Capitol and districts tore apart the country, now known at Panem, 74 years earlier and as a reminder for the surviving districts’ failure (as the thirteenth had been destroyed), The Hunger Games were born. The games take place once a year and each district is required to pick one girl and one boy between the ages of 12 and 18 to literally fight to the death. The 24 tributes, as they’re referred to, are sent to an arena in which only one can leave and thus, becoming a tribute is almost certainly a death sentence.
But when Katniss Everdeen volunteers in place of her younger sister, everything changes. She manages to unwittingly play the Capitol at their own game by getting her and the other tribute from her district to both be declared victors and accidentally starts a revolution in the process. The books and subsequent movies follow from the start of Katniss being chosen for the games to the war and rebellion against the Capitol to the eventual win and rebuilding of the country.
There seems to be a weird trend where someone is called out on a mistake only for them to issue a non-apology that takes none of the blame. Making mistakes is inevitable – as humans, we’re flawed and messy. The repeating of the same mistakes and not owning up to them is what I personally have trouble with.
It can be hard to admit you’re wrong and even harder for your actions to reflect that. Our society’s obsession and subsequent intense pressure towards success and perfection makes owning up to mistake damn near impossible but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Mistakes can often offer an incredible opportunity to learn and grow more.
All of this comes in the wake of yet another cis man being cast as a trans woman in a film. In this case, Matt Bomer was cast as a trans woman in a new movie called Anything and Mark Ruffalo offered a non-apology for it. I could go on about the implications of casting men to play trans women in Hollywood – like how it sends the dangerous message that trans women are really just men or how it takes away what little roles trans actors have to portray trans characters. This is an incredibly important conversation but there are significantly smarter people with significantly better insight that have been talking about this and I’ll let them take the ropes on it.
Hunt for the Wilder People is one of the latest films written and directed by Taika Waititi and based on the book Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump. The film follows Ricky Baker, a 13 year old foster kid in New Zealand who is sent to live in the country with Bella and Hector. After Bella’s sudden death, Ricky runs away to escape being sent back to state care and Hector follows to try and get him back. An accident leaves the two stranded in the bush for a few weeks and when child services finds an empty house and burned down barn, they suspect the worst and a national manhunt ensues.
I just recently finished the eighth and latest story in the Harry Potter universe – Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. Being a huge Harry Potter fan, I was really excited to hear about the play and the recently published script because I was so excited to see where the story picked up nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts. But honestly, I ended up being a little disappointed in the story.
Recently, I read about how some school districts around the US were going to be teaching about LGBT history to students. This is, of course, a cause for celebration because it allows for LGBT students to learn about their community’s history in school. For one of the first times (at least in my experience), young people might be learning about the Stonewall Inn and Compton’s Cafeteria Riots and about people like Audre Lorde, Sylvia Rivera, and Marsha P Johnson.