The Ancient One is… Celtic?

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Marvel, seemingly responding to critics about casting Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One, released the background for the character. Saying that this embodiment is Celtic. Well here’s the statement:

Marvel has a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films and regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU to life. The Ancient One is a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic. We are very proud to have the enormously talented Tilda Swinton portray this unique and complex character alongside our richly diverse cast.

Which I suppose they’re saying she was Celtic and chosen as the Ancient One. (It’s an odd statement, since I don’t really know of anyone talking about people as Celtic since, say, the dark ages) Because if they weren’t saying that she’s just Celtic, where are the reflections of her Celtic culture? Why are all these non-Asian people appropriating a culture by running around in Asian inspired clothing and makeup? And why are we saying she’s Celtic when people stopped referring to them as Celts something like 1000 years ago? (Though I suppose, that would indeed, make her ancient)

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE L to R: The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) Photo Credit: Film Frame  ©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.


All this does is raise more questions. One of the criticisms about Doctor Strange (the character) and Danny Rand/Iron Fist is that their stories make white people exceptional using Asian traditions. That somehow these men (and women) are somehow more worthy of picking up these mantels of exceptional strength than Asian people. And when people asked for those to be cast with an Asian person, fans said… “but, they were always white.” But if you take a role originally written as an Asian man and cast it with a white woman, Marvel says… DIVERSITY!

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Prince and Me.

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1035x1021-prince_purplerain-gal-coverMuch like David Bowie’s death, Prince’s sudden death threw me for a loop. He meant so much to me. While I don’t have a first hand story about Prince, I do have second hand stories about him (which I can’t really share). The one common thread in those stories is that despite his eccentricities, he was someone who really cared about other people. He was so beautifully contrary – the man who wrote beautifully filthy lyrics, yet apparently informed a DJ he didn’t get dressed up to hear swearing.

I first became acquainted with Prince as a little kid. My parents owned the Purple Rain soundtrack (who didn’t), and naturally, he popped up on the radio. Much like David Bowie, he was a major part of the soundtrack of my life. He was larger than life to me. (Especially once I realized he wasn’t actually all that tall)

Let’s Go Crazy has always been on my computer – same with Kiss and Raspberry Beret. 1999 was a constant, even after Y2K came and went with that song playing nearly non-stop. (I wondered how many people with their bunkers played it, rocking out in what they thought were the end times)

I sometimes forgot what an amazing guitarist he was, so caught up in his showmanship – the jumps, the clothes, the impeccable eye-makeup. The video below is proof of his skills. There’s an alleged quote from Eric Clapton (I couldn’t find a source) that when asked what it was like to be the greatest guitarist, Clapton said. “I don’t know. Ask Prince.” While it might not be an actual quote – he certainly was one of the greats.

I was awed by him changing his name to a symbol in order to get one over on his old record label. It was odd, but subversive, and powerful. Then again, that’s a pretty good summary for his entire career.

His ability to reinvent himself and unabashedly be himself gave me the courage to do the same.

But mostly, he taught me that when things were dark and dire – the one thing that you could always do was dance it out to Let’s Go Crazy. And that somehow, after throwing your all into rocking out… you’d feel better.

Here’s the Hamilton Cast honoring Prince by doing just that. (Also, this is the only way to dance to this song. Just going all out and feeling that joy)

My favorite thing tonight that I saw was the hashtag #bemorepurple from this post:

Love you all. Let’s all be more purple. (The link explains what I mean by that) Don’t worry so much about what men and women are supposed to do. Preen a little. Sing a little. Let it all out – good, bad.

I think he’d like that.

Marvel’s Doctor Strange Teaser Trailer – My Thoughts!

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The Teaser Trailer for Doctor Strange was released today, and I tweeted a bit about this, but I felt like I needed to discuss it some more. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it below and then we’ll move on.

Of all the Marvel properties, Doctor Strange is one of the characters I know the least about. I actually know more about Namor than I do Strange. So if you’re looking for an outsider perspective, I’m about as close as you’re going to get.

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Life with Crohns: Small setbacks.

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Last week I went to meet with my gastroenterologist, who suggested I spend more of my time blogging and vlogging about my life with Crohns.

Though it’s really more like MY LIFE f. Crohns.

Because as I told a friend of mine, I’m not defined by my defective small intestine. It’s part of my life, but not just who I am.

So here’s the recap: A few years ago I ended up in the hospital with ridiculously low iron readings, in need of a transfusion. While there, I finally got some health care professionals that listened to my symptoms and met my GI. (I’d been arguing on and off for an entire year between two doctors who thought that I needed to eat more, and refused to run any tests beyond taking blood to check for anemia. One of my doctors was convinced I had an eating disorder)

I was put on budesonide (that’s the generic name for Entocort), a delayed release steroid. And it worked pretty well. I had to go on a course of liquid iron to help stem the anemia (turns out when your small intestine gets inflamed, you don’t absorb a lot of nutrients – but especially not iron).

But the last few months have been a little rough. I’d been having small flare-ups here and there. Mostly cramps, very low level fevers. Nothing like the flare-ups that sent me to the hospital. But it’s been dragging me down, when every third week I’m curled up in bed with cramps.

So at this last GI appointment, my doctor informed me that the budesonide clearly stopped working. So we’re trying out a new medicine. This one is an NSAID, but it’s made for ulcerative colitis, but has been proven to work for Crohns, too.

So I’m in the two weeks between appointments, waiting for it to really kick in.

If you wondered what life in the earlyish stages of a disease like mine, that’s what it is. A lot of doctor’s trips, trying out new medicines, waiting for the new medicines to work, and then more doctors trips.

Oh, and a lot of labs.

I’m trying to be positive about all of this. But I broke down in his office, crying. He assured me I didn’t need to be worried. But I told him about my belief I might have depression. I’m not sure if it’s on its own, if it’s linked to this. My health is a tangled knot of yarn, and I have no idea how many pieces are actually in that tangle.

It’s just a lot. I know I’m nowhere near needing surgeries or anything like that. But still, I’ve been tired and achey for the last couple of months. And that wears down your spirit.

And that isn’t even tackling the very real fact that there is no cure from Crohns. I have a lifetime of this ahead of me- and what I’m going through now is the tame end of it.

What a Difference a Week Makes

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whitney - le sigh

This was from a few weeks ago. Outtake from a vlog. I paused, made this face, smiled sadly and moved on. Hindsight.  Amazing the things you realize.

My mom could always read me like a book. She can still do it with my voice – but I admit, when I call her, I’m not putting on a mask to hide how I feel. I’m usually stripping it off.

TheBoy was away on a business trip, and it was been a rough week. I knew I struggled with anxiety (the last year has not been kind to me, anxiety wise) And I knew that having him around helped.

Because he can read me like a book. If it’s a bad day, he knows just what to say to remind me that most of what I’m afraid of is my brain trying to sabotage me. For what it’s worth, I do the same for him. But with this trip, we were separated by three hours. Which meant that by the time I’d put the kids in bed, he was ready to sleep.

Without that stabilizer, I found myself spinning. I felt alone, even in a full house. And that right there was a big red flag for me. (The fact that I had to push myself to put on makeup was another one. I love makeup.) And friends who used to help, even if they said the right things… it just wasn’t enough to quiet my head.

When TheBoy popped up on a video call, I had the biggest wakeup call of all. The first words out of his mouth were, “Are you okay?” (I’m paraphrasing, but nobody needs to know pet names) Because he knew, the second he saw me.

That trip of his was an eye opener. It’s time for me to go back to my amazing therapist and see if I need to start seeing the psychologist in his practice, too. Because this isn’t sounding just like anxiety anymore. Because while I’ve been doing really well – things shouldn’t fall apart if my husband takes a trip away for a week.

Kids were taken care of, things were done. But if it hadn’t been for the things I needed to accomplish – I would have fallen apart.

And I’m sure someone reading this is rolling their eyes – but I’m being honest because people don’t talk about anxiety or depression. Or the moments that they realize they’re struggling.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have friends who suffer from both anxiety and depression. Enough to recognize it in myself early on. To have supportive friends and family, who take the time to fact-check my brain.

But it’s not enough. Time to talk to someone about it, before it is one more thing about my life determined to stop me from doing anything.

Society is Broken as Long as It Protects Rape Culture.

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broken glass(TW: for mentions of abuse, stalking and harassment. No details, but I know that it can bring up a lot of emotions.)

In the last week or so, Zoe Quinn announced that she wouldn’t be pursuing legal action against her ex boyfriend. Because she realized that it wouldn’t help. In Zian Ghomeshi’s trial, the victims were scrutinized for their behavior- asked how their hair was styled when he pulled on their hair, if they could remember what kind of car he drove, why they kept contact with him after the alleged abuse. On Friday, Kesha lost her legal battle against Sony and producer Dr. Luke. The singer was trying to be released from her contract, saying that after she had admitted that he abused her, he had intentionally been holding her career hostage.

There’s something very wrong here.

I learned not to trust authorities in high school, when I was stalked. The student didn’t show up at my house, though there were a lot of hang up calls. He did follow me around campus and find me in moments where I was isolated. I felt unsafe. When I went to the administration, I was told that I shouldn’t feel frightened of his affection. That instead I should be flattered by his attention.

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The Ultimate (White) Privilege? Being Meryl Streep

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Somewhere deep in the drafts folder for this site is a post called “The Privilege of Being Meryl Streep.” I started it when Meryl and the very white cast of Suffragette donned “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave” shirts and didn’t see the very obvious issue with using this actual quote in our modern era. And then Streep doubled down by saying she wasn’t a feminist, but a humanist.

I just couldn’t quite find the hook for it. It was a rant, plain and simple. But I felt like I’d gotten the words out of my system, and moved on with the news cycle. I owe the title of this post to a discussion I had with my mom when working on that draft. She’s awesome, and a lot of my best blog posts come from bouncing a conversation around with her.

I’m bringing this up because Meryl has done it again. She’s presiding over the jury for the Berlin International Film Festival, one that she said is diverse… but is made up entirely of white people, though it does have white women. At the press conference, she was asked by an Egyptian reporter if she felt she could judge a movie from the Arab World or North Africa. It’s a fair question, given the ongoing discussion about diversity and representation in the media.

Her answer? She said ‘while she didn’t know much about the region, “I’ve played a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures.”‘ Then went on to talk about “the core of humanity that travels right through every culture” and ended with the gem that “we’re all from Africa originally.”

I would imagine that most people who live outside the Bubble of A++++ list Hollywood would realize that while there is a grain of scientific truth to it (humanity does stem from Africa), that the millions of years since then have brought about a lot of cultural and historical shifts that make that statement ignorant and downright offensive.

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Review: Disney’s The Finest Hours

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TheFinestHours56422542399f6Today, The Finest Hours opens in theaters. Based on the true story of a Coast Guard rescue, the film stars Chris Pine, Casey Affleck and Eric Bana. Chris Pine plays Bernie Webber, a Coast Guard captain who does everything by regulations. His faith in his duty is tested when his CO (played by a very restrained Bana) sends him on a rescue mission that everyone believe to be a death warrant

The mission is to rescue the remaining crew of the Pendleton, after the tanker is torn in two by a dangerous nor’easter. The crew fights to keep the themselves afloat in order to buy more time for a rescue.

I was invited to an advanced screening this week, and I have to say – I liked this movie a lot. While it has a bit of a slow start, once the Pendleton is damaged, the movie moves at a breakneck pace (full speed, if you will). The stakes are impossibly high, and though Bernie is a very quiet man – Pine plays him so earnestly that without saying much, his concerns are clear. As the first engineer, Casey Affleck’s Ray Sybert is a no-nonsense guy who knows exactly what the stakes are and doesn’t sugarcoat them.

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OscarsSoWhite – The Clif Notes Version

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Since the nominations for this year’s Academy Awards were released, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has been going around. It’s prompted calls for boycotts from Jada Pinkett-Smith, and many A-Listers have been weighing in with their own opinions. And I’ve had a lot of IRL conversations with people who really don’t seem to know what the issue is.

Boycotting the Oscars isn’t about ensuring that a # of nominees are POC (People of Color), by saying that so many POC need to be nominated every year.

Michael Caine seemed to be under this impression, as he suggested that you couldn’t just nominate someone because they were black – but what #OscarsSoWhite is about is recognizing that there are quality performances by POC that are overlooked. And that most of the Academy’s main demographic right now (older white men) aren’t going to consider those movies as contenders. (Case in point, Creed was recognized for Sylvester Stallone’s role in it – but was ignored for any other category, despite having a very strong supporting female role.)

So what is it about? It’s about calling attention to the disparity – both in the few recognized roles for POC and to the overall makeup of the Academy. And it seems that the Academy has recognized that they can help with that – vowing to find more women and people of color.

In the end, Hollywood has to start telling more stories that feature women and people of color, especially the ones they gear towards Awards season. They need to hire more women and POC behind the camera – producers, directors, writers, tech. Not just hire them, but give them the shot to make bigger budget films. And they need to start with mentoring college students so that they know they have a place in Hollywood without having to break through a glass ceiling each time.

So many people in Hollywood mentor people who are like them. So if the majority of people involved in the filmmaking process are white men, it just means you keep bringing in new generations of white men – shutting out fresh points of view.

What about those arguments that if you diversify the Academy awards then you should diversify the BET awards or NAACP? Those are just plain ridiculous. BET Awards were founded because African-Americans weren’t being recognized in mainstream awards shows. So unless you personally plan on fixing diversity issues in Hollywood, you can just step away from the BET Awards and the ALMAs (those are the awards for Latinos).

How can you help fix it? Hollywood has come to the conclusion that people can see themselves through a white male protagonist. If you support movies with women and people of color as leads, this can help them see that there is a market for more. But in general, unless you’re in Hollywood, the only way that YOU can make waves is to be loud. Be critical. If it’s a franchise/show/product you like and you think they’re slipping where diversity should be (see: my criticisms about season 1 of Agent Carter and the lack of minorities in NYC), speak up. Compliment it, but be honest about what they can improve on. Being silent or inactive means that things don’t change. (I love Marvel’s movies. That said, I haven’t been silent about how few women or POC are in the movies)

TL;DR version: Nobody is suggesting they nominate a quota of minorities. Or that people get nominated just because they’re a minority, ignoring the quality of their work. More people just want Hollywood to realize that you can make money off a movie that isn’t starring a white person. That white isn’t the default in real life, so it shouldn’t be the default in Hollywood. And that we all win when you allow more people to share their points of view.

Also, white celebrities really should run their statements past their PR people. Kristen Stewart chimed in saying that people should stop complaining and “do something.” Because the ongoing discussion is “BORING”. While she acknowledges it’s hard to get a project made, it’s frustrating to see that she doesn’t seem to realize it’s even harder for other people than it is for her. Or that while doing something is important, you can complain and get something accomplished.

road to el dorado both is good

[Video] Whitney Watches: AGENT CARTER RETURNS!

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Peggy’s back! Last night, Agent Carter returned, kicking off Season 2. Just in case you can’t remember where the show left off, Peggy had stopped Russian Black Widow Dottie Underwood from destroying New York City. Howard left (and took Jarvis with him), and Peggy did her best to try to move on.

This season seems to have picked up later in the same year, and with a two hour premiere (with two back to back episodes), they’ve established this season’s villains pretty firmly.

So enjoy this vlog where I fangirl and drop a Hamilton reference.

(Note: apparently I am wrong about the thing that I thought was a callback to Agents of SHIELD. According to interviews, it’s a Doctor Strange tie-in)

What are you thinking about Peggy’s move to Los Angeles?