Last Week’s Episode: Black Lives Matter, and the Reckoning Is Here

Last Week’s Episode: Black Lives Matter, and the Reckoning Is Here

This week, we saw the dam break in all parts of entertainment and media (using the widest possible definition of the phrase) with Black, Indigenous, and other people of color speaking out about racism, both micro and macro, they've experienced in the workplace. There are a few news stories to cover before getting into it,

This week, we saw the dam break in all parts of entertainment and media (using the widest possible definition of the phrase) with Black, Indigenous, and other people of color speaking out about racism, both micro and macro, they’ve experienced in the workplace. There are a few news stories to cover before getting into it, but please note that we’ll be talking about [CN] racism, police brutality, transphobia, and ableism.

News

In addition to the mess surrounding Warner Media’s release of HBO Max, which has seen lack of access on certain devices (like Roku TVs) as well as confusion over which HBO subscribers would get what, the company is also making some strange decisions. Having only been launched two weeks ago, with most but not all of the DC content that was expected, HBO is now saying that almost every live-action DC film on Max will be unavailable after July 1st, as well as The LEGO Batman Movie. [Comicbook.com]

With the release of the final season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power on May 15, fans have been dedicating a lot of time to drawing art, analyzing the scenes, and apparently discovering showrunner Noelle Stevenson’s AO3 account. She’s been taking it in stride:

Netflix has declined to renew Astronomy Club, its six-episode sketch series starring an all-Black cast with all-Black writers, for a second season. Cast members are understandably disappointed, with one expressing frustration at the lack of promotion Netflix has given the show. There is now a petition to save the show on Change.org, which shows just how much content that showcases Black joy is needed, especially now. [IndieWire]

Amid the civil uprisings in cities across the globe protesting racist police brutality, networks are finally moving away from airing long-running copaganda reality shows depicting law enforcement making arrests. Paramount Network has canceled the 33rd season of Cops and will be shelving the show for good, though old episodes will continue to run on WGN America until the end of June, and on Pluto TV until a decision is made to pull those episodes as well. A&E is still “evaluating things” but has stopped airing Live PD for now, and Discovery’s ID channel has also pulled its Body Cam show for the foreseeable future. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Amazon has announced a collaboration with Vertigo Comics to adapt a live-action version of Viz Media’s The Promised Neverland for a scripted series. The original manga is about children in an orphanage discovering a dark secret about where they live and planning an escape. Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse alums Rodney Rothman and Meghan Malloy will work with actor Masi Oka to write the script, along with Vertigo Entertainment’s Roy Lee and Miri Yoon. Malloy will executive produce as well, with Rothman as director. [The Hollywood Reporter]

With the news of actor Ruby Rose leaving the show after CW’s first season of Batwoman, there have been concerns her character, beloved lesbian Kate Kane, would be killed off. While the series is looking to cast a new lead, showrunner Caroline Dries has assured fans that as a lesbian herself, she has no intention of adding to the litany of scenes that fall into the “Bury Your Gays” trope. She also teased that the second season will focus on Batwoman’s mysterious disappearance. [Variety]

As COVID-19 transmissions rates continue to climb, prompting health services professionals to worry about possible ICU bed shortages, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Department of Public Health has announced that film and television production will be allowed to resume tomorrow, June 12, along with the opening of gyms, movie theaters, museums, and other indoor locations with a high risk of contagion. After two weeks of justified, mostly-masked Black Lives Matter protests preceded by crowded beach days and unmasked right-wing protests, one wonders if it’s really such a good idea to resume business-as-usual, even with the new safety guidelines. [The Hollywood Reporter]

On Wednesday afternoon, the This Is Us writers’ room confirmed on Twitter that writer, author, director, journalist, and television personality Jas Waters (also known as Jas Fly) has tragically passed away at only 39 years old. Waters was a staff writer on the critically acclaimed show, as well as a story editor/writer on Kidding, and many whose lives she impacted have posted on Twitter in an outpouring of love, grief, and remembrance of her life. [The Root]

Revelations

While these past few weeks have been exhausting for Black people who have had to take to the streets during a pandemic to, yet again, protest extrajudicial murders by the police, there has also been a shift in mainstream discourse that now has celebrities and brands/companies trying to show their support for the movement, with varying degrees of appropriateness. One such blunder was made by Lea Michele, whose May 29th tweet in support of the Black Lives Matter protests fell flat to Season 6 Glee castmate Samantha Ware, who revealed that the white actor made her “first television gig a living hell,” citing “traumatic microaggressions” inflicted on her by Michele in a quote-tweet. Other former Glee cast members soon followed in either liking Ware’s tweet or signaling agreement and support. Michele has since lost a partnership with HelloFresh and posted an apology on Instagram. [Variety]

Speaking on a panel as part of Screen‘s Screen Talks live Q&A series, David Oyelowo revealed that members of the Academy essentially leveraged their privilege to deny Selma awards because they were offended at the cast and crew’s decision to wear “I Can’t Breathe” shirts at the film’s premiere to protest Eric Garner’s murder in 2014: “It’s part of why that film didn’t get everything that people think it should’ve got and it birthed #OscarsSoWhite.” He also called for the BAFTA Awards to change its date in order to separate the honor from Oscars season. [Screen Daily]

2015’s Fantastic Four got a ton of hype before its release due to the racebent casting of Johnny Storm and Dr. Franklin Storm, only to disappoint fans who found that although it showed glimmers of decisions that would have made it great, ultimately elements of the plot and editing were lacking. The film’s director, Josh Trank, has spoken in the past about how the finished cut did not align with his vision, and it turns out this included an all-Black Storm family that was rejected by the studio, which balked at casting a Black woman as Sue Storm. [Gizmodo]

After a photo showing its Editor-in-Chief in brownface circulated online on Monday, food and entertainment medium Bon Appétit has faced swift backlash as its employees of color took to social media to reveal a toxic work environment filled with racist micro- and macroaggressions. Fans were shocked to learn that the people of color who regularly appear in the company’s Test Kitchen series on YouTube do not receive compensation for their appearances, and are in fact receiving depressed wages in comparison to their colleagues. Coming on the heels of a conversation about racial pay disparities in the book publishing world that has now expanded to include journalism and freelance writing, it was especially disturbing to find out that a chef of color with a decade of experience like Sohla El-Waylly—asked to stand in the background of shots to simulate “diversity and inclusion” when not dispensing her cooking expertise—would be paid so much less than her  white colleagues with less knowledge. Since then, EIC Adam Rapaport has resigned with an apology to employees, followed by Condé Nast’s VP of Video Matt Duckor. There have also been calls for drinks editor Alex Delaney to resign due to a Confederate flag cake and sexist and homophobic sentiments posted on social media in the past. [Grub Street]

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling decided this week, while Black people around the world are fighting for their lives, that the important thing to discuss is how she much she hates trans people. After getting pushback from trans people and cis allies about her angry reaction to an innocuous article on menstruation, Rowling doubled down by dedicating a long blog post to regurgitating oft-repeated nonsensical arguments from “feminists” who have made it their crusade to tear down the little protections and acceptance trans people have gained over the years. Fans of the beloved children’s book series have had to reckon with the heartbreak of seeing such blatant dismissals of trans experiences that even go so far as to perpetuate misinformation about autistic people. It’s been heartening to see, though, that many from the Harry Potter movie casts, as well as the actress who plays Hermione in the West End production of Cursed Child, have been making clear their support of trans people and rejection of Rowling’s rhetoric. [Variety]

Grab Bag

Netflix’s Space Force has dropped, and staying true to form, is now directly trolling the Trump administration through trademark law. The satirical take on the president’s idea by The Office alums Greg Daniels and Steve Carell has been securing trademark rights to the “Space Force” name in Europe, Australia, Mexico, and other countries around the world. While the U.S. Air Force does have a pending trademark registration application at the Patent and Trademark Office, the split ownership of the phrase may result in some interesting conflicts if either organization decides to sell merchandise. You can read more about the U.S. military’s history with asserting its own trademarks at [The Hollywood Reporter].

While we’re reeling from both the continued pandemic and the abject cruelty of systemic racism and police violence that affect vulnerable Black people the most, it has been important to donate to the various bail funds set up for protesters as well as those serving Black communities. Supporting Black-owned businesses is also being encouraged, and we want to highlight Japan’s first Black-owned anime studio, D’ART Shtajio. The 2-D animation studio was founded in Tokyo in 2016 by background artist Arthell Isom and his twin brother Darnell, both Black men, and animator Henry Thurlow (a white man). With experience as animators on animes like Bleach, Black Butler, Naruto, Tokyo Ghoul, and Pokémon Origins, Isom and Thurlow have been well-equipped to work on the many high-profile projects D’ART Shtajio has taken on, including Castlevania Season 3, One Piece, Gintama, and multiple episodes of Merc Storia: The Apathetic Boy and the Girl in a Bottle. The studio has also released several in-house productions like Sturgill Simpson Presents Sound and Fury, a visual album that’s available to stream on Netflix. [Comicbook.com]

Rebecca Y. Lee
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