M. Night, say it isn’t so!

I don’t post much about TV stuff because I don’t watch a lot of TV. But when I do, because my tastes have always been eclectic and a little weird, I tend to watch weird eclectic stuff. Thus was born my love of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It’s a children’s cartoon. Yeah, I know. But I fell passionately in love with this show, because it’s frankly some of the most original fantasy I’ve seen in a very long time. Like most good children’s shows, it’s made an effort to appeal to adults as well, through complex subject matter and multi-layered jokes — to great and successful effect. I watched the finale episode at a party with 20 other twenty- and thirtysomething adults, all of whom were literally holding their breath and cheering at various points. Yeah. Over a kids’ cartoon. It’s that good. Go rent/buy it and see for yourself.

But let me be blunt: one of the things that hooked me about this show was that it was set in an all-Asian world. And it wasn’t fucked up. OK, let me clarify. You know how usually, when there’s an Asian character in an American TV show, he (or more frequently she) ends up as the martial arts master, the (white) hero’s submissive love interest, the dragon lady vamp, or the magical elderly person dishing out nonsensical proverbs and occasionally a can of whoopass? The thing is, all of these stereotypes are present in Avatar to some degree. But because the whole world is Asian, they’re lost in a sea of non-stereotypical, non-exoticized, perfectly normal human beings. How amazing is that? Not only that, but Avatar actually depicts different Asian ethnicities. Though this is a fantasy world, there are clear allusions to the Inuit, Koreans, Mongols, Tibetans, several flavors of southeast Asian, various Indians, and more. The Chinese- and Japanese-analogues of the story actually come in several varieties (Earth Kingdom and Fire Kingdom, Kyoshi warriors, etc.). Better still, while there are lots of martial artists in the show, the vast majority of people in this world wouldn’t know a punch from Hawaiian Punch. Just like most people anywhere. I know, huh? Good shit.

Given all this, I wasn’t surprised that M. Night Shyamalan, twist-director extraordinaire, was drawn to the material in order to make a live-action film. I was actually excited about his direction when I heard. I don’t like all his movies, but at least he’s not some no-name music video director. So it sounds like he’s chosen his cast for the film.

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25 Black Superheroes… are there even that many?

Need a break from politics and war and other stuff getting you down?  Go over to Fantasy magazine and read this article by (former guest blogger) Naamen Tilahun taking BlackVoices to task for their top 25 list of fail.  I’m not a big fan of the superhero genre, but I can imagine how frustrating it must be trying to find a brother or sister in those pages or on the screen that doesn’t make you cringe.  Just like all media, right?  Still, there must be at least 25 awesome black superheroes and we’re trying to put together a better list.  So come help out.  And then go back to being pissed about Sarah Palin.

Diner Dash and the Angry Black Women

Over at Cerise (the gaming magazine for women) I have a review of Wedding Dash, a spin-off of Diner Dash, one of my favorite games. I’m not a huge gamer, though I have played them since I was a kid. I even still have a Nintendo 64 around here somewhere. Though I love console games, I mostly just play the simple ones you can find online, like Diner Dash, when I don’t have the time or energy to fire up my DVD-ROM games like Quidditch World Cup and Grand Theft Auto.

And yes, I play GTA San Andreas because I really love stealing cars, running people over, shooting random passers by and blowing things up with the tank. I’m a stereotype, so sue me.

My review of Wedding Dash focuses on gender issues in the game, which I don’t have with Diner Dash. Though DD has its own weird issues — not enough to make me really angry, mind you, but enough that they ping me every time I play.

Diner Dash is a flash-based puzzle game where you play Flo, a restaurant owner. In order to succeed in business, she must keep her diner running smoothly by seating guests and serving them well. There are several different types of customers, and each poses their own challenge. The default customer is a white woman who eats and loses patience at an average rate. All of the other customers can basically be measured against them. Other types include Senior Citizens (old white men) who are very patient but eat slow and hold everything up, Bookworms, who are just like the seniors but are less tolerant of noise around them, Families with crying babies, and impatient, fast-eating Businessmen (who, after Diner Dash 1, start yakking away on cell phones and pissing off everyone around them). And then there are the Businesswomen.

Diner Dash ABW 1

Yes, that’s them. These are the only black people in the game (unless you count the jazz piano player who sometimes shows up in later versions). Diner Dash ABW 2And though the game text identifies them as Businesswomen, I have always called them the Angry Black Women. The ABWs are similar to the Businessmen in that they are impatient but also eat very fast. In the first DD, they were the fastest eaters and the most impatient of all the customer types. I dreaded seeing them in the line because I knew they wouldn’t wait long and, if you didn’t get to them right away, their little hearts would go away very quickly. As with all of the customers, once you get down to two hearts, they stop smiling and start scowling. If they get really angry they will bare teeth. It’s not a pretty sight.

Diner Dash ABW 4When playing the first game I found it slightly funny and slightly annoying that the worst customers to deal with were the ABWs. But then in DD 2 they gave the Businessmen cell phones, making them even worse than the ABWs. Yes, they are impatient and eat really fast, throwing off my timing (even more than the women) but since they talk on cell phones, they can disturb the other diners, resulting in a lot of hassle in seating them. Bastards.

Still, those black women in suits are pretty darn impatient and angry. I also think they don’t tip very well.

Wedding Dash - Better Dancing

Wedding Dash - AuntieWhen I first started playing Wedding Dash I wondered if this trend would continue. In WD, you’re running a wedding reception and have to seat the married couple’s guests. Luckily, it seems that some thought went into race when they designed this game. With each reception, the couples change. Sometimes they are both white, sometimes both black, and sometimes the couples are mixed. I believe there may be a few Latina brides as well. The guests are, again, mostly white, but there are three PoC in there. This time, the black woman is very patient, but she is the slowest eater, which, again, throws off my timing. She also looks a bit like Condi Rice, which is disturbing… Ah well, can’t win them all.

The thing I find most funny about the changing race of the couple is that there are some wedding guests labeled as family members who, at each reception, are white, even when neither the bride or groom are. I suppose it would be a bit of a programming hassle to make Aunt Ethyl (the blonde woman with glasses) and Uncle Ernie a different race in each reception. But still, it’s funny.

Though there aren’t any major race issues in Wedding Dash, the gender stuff is pretty awful, in my opinion. Roll on over to Cerise if you’re interested in checking it out.

ABW’s TV Corner: Fall TV – Want/Do Not Want

Fall is upon us.  That means new TV shows on the horizon and season premieres up the wazoo.  Ah, when I was a child this was the only thing that lifted my mood after having to return to the evil that was school.

Of course, it’s all different now.  Back then the summer was a time for reruns (you suck, reruns!) and movies of the week (more sucking!).  American television finally caught on tot he fact that some money could be made off of people desperate to watch something new in the warm months.  Suddenly the Season Schedule wasn’t so easy to predict; stuff might get started in January and run through August or there might be shows that come on only in the summer.  We’re never without some new TV these days.  And that’s fine with me.

Still, Fall is exciting.  Lots of new stuff to watch.

I’m excited about Heroes, even though that finale made me cry out in pain.  At least they finished the plot arc!  I really don’t care about the conclusion to the cliffhanger on CSI, but I’m glad it’s back.  Same for NUMB3RS.  I want to know what happens to Colby!!  I watched the first season of Dexter this summer and completely fell in love with it.  Can’t decide if I should watch it every week or wait until it’s all done and then watch.  Family Guy is back – I think Fox will never cancel this show, even if it continues to suck in many ways, for fear of making another huge mistake.  Sadly, I will watch it, even if it continues to suck in many ways, for the few moments of joy it brings me.

Of the new shows, Journeyman looks interesting, as does Pushing Daisies.   Reaper might be amusing or it might be stupid.  As I have yet to see a whiff of brown people in it, I may not even bother.  I want to watch Cane because Jimmy Smits still lives in my heart, despite Star Wars and that terrible production of Twelfth Night I saw him in.  Plus, you know, brown man as lead on television.  It must be worth something.  I never watched the old Bionic Woman, so it has no nostalgia value for me.  But Michelle Ryan is a good actress and excellent eye candy (if I can just stop mistaking her for Jennifer Garner).  Women’s Murder Club – all female lead cast, mysteries being solved, Angie Harmon?  YES.

What are you all looking forward to?  I declare Open Thread for talking about TV.  It’s the weekend, we can have a little fluff.