Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: A Real Character

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  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Kracklite,

    I wonder what the upcoming John Carter will be like in its treatment of Dejah Thoris?

    Since we're talking about a Disney joint, 1) her costume is probably going to be more extensive than four paper napkins and a roll of dental floss and 2) "I will outage your honour, repeatedly" will not the standard Barasoomian greeting to the well-endowed Princess you've just kidnapped.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11869 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    hmm where does that leave the
    intertwined Jerry Cornelius/Miss Brunner

    I...don't think Moorcock is relevant if we're talking about bad writing...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Heather Gaye,

    That’s a fair point, but no, Homeland doesn’t go there. I could rephrase by saying that the mental illness is as much a part of her as the skills that make her good at her job – no judgement or novelty, just.. it is what it is.

    I think that's a better way of describing it, yes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18716 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Kracklite,

    That is what George Lucas thinks constitutes characterisation.

    That is a very funny slamdown of Plinkett's. On the money at almost every point.

    Without saying that the original Star Wars trilogy is the best thing in the world, he does manage to put a strong case that it's way better on almost every level than Episode 1.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8319 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Kracklite,

    For your amusement, I offer rule sixty-three

    Surgeon General's Warning: May Be Hazardous To Your Productivity.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4161 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’ve slowly given up on it – she was much more interesting in the first season as a person of logic with the strangely powerful and penetrating insights into human nature that sometimes come from the adult autistic.

    Apart from all the very salient points everyone else has made - the show really jumped the shark for me about the time it became evident Booth and Bones were never going to get together as long as they could milk it some more, and Booth was never going to stop being the Voice of Conservatism Masked As Common Sense - the move away from the original premise was what made me sad.

    As a scientist, what I really miss from the first season was the way the show was about working scientists (including multiple working *female* scientists) who helped out the FBI. Every episode, or nearly, had an A plot (the crime) and a B plot (the scientific work they did for the museum, or something about their roles as scientists in a scientific institution.) That was awesome. And then they mysteriously morphed into crime lab techs who just happened to be located in a museum for no particular reason (hiring a coroner, the hell?). Non-medical-or-crime-related science is almost never shown on TV. And then they stopped doing it.

    The characters are meant to be a blend of all races that we have now – unfortunately modern day actors don’t come in that flavour – it’s the point at which you are meant to be able to suspend disbelief.

    ...by mostly casting people who, as far as I can tell from Wikipedia, are 100% white? Because there are no bi-racial actors in modern Hollywood? (Like, say.....Gina Torres. I'm just saying.)

    I'm willing to suspend a lot of disbelief for sci-fi, but you know what? A future where everyone's allegedly racially mixed but almost every speaking role is still played by a visibly European-descent person? That's still a fail on follow-through. Don't get me wrong: I love Firefly, I'm willing to suspend plenty of disbelief for it. I just can't to give a pass on something Hollywood routinely does so wrong.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Gee, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Absolutely. But I admit to seeing the seasons completely out of order so never saw anything progress, which weirdly made it more obvious that Things Had Happened That Had Changed Them, but not as obvious that they had ruined the premise. Agree with you all completely on the Gorgomon plot. I guess I mentioned Bones only with reference to the variety of female characters as (well, until the Baby fixation) characters who happened to be female.

    Canada, eh • Since May 2011 • 75 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    As resources:

    The Bechdel Test and Ursula LeGuin's much-reprinted essay, Science Fiction and Mrs Brown.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 972 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    That’s a fair point, but no, Homeland doesn’t go there. I could rephrase by saying that the mental illness is as much a part of her as the skills that make her good at her job – no judgement or novelty, just.. it is what it is.

    I think that’s a better way of describing it, yes.

    Yup – and I love the scene where Carrie is a delicious gumbo of shocked, terrified and heinously pissed off when her colleague confronts her with the meds she hides in a aspirin bottle in her bathroom. Yeah, you’re fucked off at the violation of your privacy, when the only reason the man was in your apartment in the first place was to help you wipe your arse on the Bill of Rights and “nine federal laws” to spy on Brody.

    Wet liberal wimp that I am, I find “Crazy” bipolar Carrie a damn sight less disturbing than “Privacy? Whatevs, I gotta HUNCH” Carrie. The most disturbing thing in the whole pilot is the look on Daines’ face, utterly transfixed by the Brodies fucking – with sex noises on the soundtrack. That’s not about her mental illness, but the kind of moral void a lawless scopophiliac security state exists in. You’d never see that on 24.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11869 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    …by mostly casting people who, as far as I can tell from Wikipedia, are 100% white? Because there are no bi-racial actors in modern Hollywood? (Like, say…..Gina Torres. I’m just saying.)

    me confused. Gina is in firefly (cuban), Morena is brazilian

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3267 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    me confused. Gina is in firefly (cuban), Morena is brazilian

    I won’t presume to speak for Lucy, but I think her point (and a fair one) was that if the world-building of the Firefly/Serenity ‘verse was that The Alliance was some kind of Sino-American hybrid, would have been so difficult to cast a few more quote unquote “Asian”* actors? For example, in Shindig, one of the few episodes focused on Inara’s relationships with the Alliance “aristocracy” why not cast, say, George Takei rather than Larry Drake as Sir Warwick Harrow? If nothing else, it would have been as awesome Trekkie-bait casting as Walter Koening’s recurring role on Babylon 5 or Leonard Nimoy on Fringe.

    I’m not dealing the racist card on Whedon, but as Lucy says it seems rather poor follow-through on his own world(s)-building.

    Broader point: I’m certainly not say ’diversity’ is as simple as counting vaginas, bringing a GLBT person in to teach everyone an important lesson in a ‘very special episode’ or saying “we need a token off-white person here.” But it didn’t just happen that we now see a wider range of roles for African-American women on television than “sassy domestic” or “third crack whore on welfare from the left”.

    * Deliberately threw quotes there because, of course, “Asians” are no more homogeneous and interchangeable than “Europeans”. Just watching my white(-ish) privilege. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11869 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    It's a fair call. The lack of asians is surprising and given the random chinese thrown into the dialog having one or more of the ensemble with natural pronunciation might have been smart.

    In Whedon's defense I doubt he goes into a casting with a "look" in mind. Seems more likely he is looking for someone who can portray a character that he has in mind. Of course that simply takes the issue one step back and asks why the character has to be a small violent (insane?) female (thinking about River Tam here)?

    It does raise questions about how hard is it for asian actors to get agents or auditions even when the story doesn't immediately exclude them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3267 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Chinese? Natural pronunciation?

    Craig wrote

    “Asians” are no more homogeneous and interchangeable than “Europeans”.

    Indeed. Swap "Asians" for "Chinese" and that still holds true - linguistically as well as culturally.

    I guess I should find some of these TV series and find out what this random sprinkling of Chinese words actually sounds like.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2011 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Oh, that's why I was pretty careful not to deal the racist card on Whedon. If he was, I suspect his sister-in-law (and frequent collaborator) would introduce him to Mister Pointy in short order. :)

    It does raise questions about how hard is it for asian actors to get agents or auditions even when the story doesn’t immediately exclude them.

    That's a vexed question, and one I don't have a simple answer for. While the white chick might have gotten the part, both Grace Park and Kandyse MacClure read for Starbuck more than once - and obviously made enough of an impression to get called back for other roles.

    From the beginning, Ron More and David Eick had always pictured Edward James Olmos as the lead in their version of Battlestar Galactica - not because they wanted to make a statement but because they were huge fans of Blade Runner. Ironically enough, EJO has said in interviews he only bothered reading the script when his son said, "Dad, you really need to get past the title and read this". Much the same for Mary McDonnell - who was also on Eick and Moore's dream team: she isn't a big SF fan, Donnie Darko (arguably) is the most genre project she'd done, and the title just didn't grab her. Her agent convinced her to read Laura Roslin's part with an open mind.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11869 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    I guess I should find some of these TV series and find out what this random sprinkling of Chinese words actually sounds like.

    There's some amusing pieces on the extras with the cast talking about how hard it was to be speaking these words without any idea of their meaning, They did get coached with pronunciation but the question was raised about what a native chinese speaker would make of their efforts. My guess is it's something like hearing a US actor attempt a kiwi accent.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3267 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I've seen a couple of odd photos of "Chinese" signs from these shows on the internet, kind of a Chinglish or Engrish in reverse. I could easily get hold of pirated copies of the shows to find out what their attempts at spoken Chinese are like, after all, I've got so much far more important shit to get done, what with the semester about to start....

    But y'know, Chinese TV and cinema features a wide, wide range of accents, from perfect standard Putonghua on CCTV 1's Network News to distinct Henan accents in Blind Shaft to - one I watched a few days ago - Nanjing dialect in Zhang Yimou's latest Flowers of War. And the Taiwan accent is so trendy thanks to the likes of Jay Chou. So I really do wonder how Hollywood is trying to sprinkle their shows with Chinese.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2011 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    me confused. Gina is in firefly (cuban), Morena is brazilian

    Craig pretty much nailed it: Whedon DID cast biracial actors for Firefly. (Brazil, in particular, is an excellent example of how in the future we will not all be mid-brown and many people will still hew to identifiable racial appearances despite having mixed ancestry.) He just didn't manage to cast any who were part-East Asian. And then made a big deal about people speaking Mandarin and having Chinese surnames and so forth.

    It does raise questions about how hard is it for asian actors to get agents or auditions even when the story doesn’t immediately exclude them.

    Racebending.com, which does advocacy work for underrepresented minorities in film (largely but not exclusively focusing on East Asians) likes to point out when descriptions sent out to casting agencies implicitly exclude minorities, which is basically all the time. Unless there is really good reason for a part to be cast as a minority, the usual description is "Caucasian or other", which gets translated as "White".

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Actors, writers, and the show translator talking about Firefly's "Chinese". (Espenson calls it Mandarin.)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Actors, writers, and the show translator talking about Firefly's "Chinese". (Espenson calls it Mandarin.)

    I always thought it was Cantonese, which I gather is much better for swearing and cussing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18716 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Actors, writers, and the show translator talking about Firefly's "Chinese". (Espenson calls it Mandarin.)

    I rather hope someone involved knew which language they were translating.

    Makes me nostalgic for Avatar: the Last Airbender, in which, as I understand it, every piece of written language that appears, usually Mandarin, is as legible and correct as if it were written in English. They turned artwork down for using made-up "Asian-inspired" symbols instead of real ideographs. (The series, not the movie. The movie committed every possible sin against the source material it could and then a couple extra just for fun.)

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I always thought it was Cantonese, which I gather is much better for swearing and cussing.

    Cantonese can certainly sound very harsh, but I could learn you some fairly colourful Mandarin words if you wanted. Really don't know how you compare swearability of languages, though.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2011 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I always thought it was Cantonese, which I gather is much better for swearing and cussing.

    Anzac Day in Hong Kong is going to be interesting - do I need to learn two ways to say "your donkey has eaten my passport, please direct me to the nearest lavatory"? :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11869 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Chances are you'll only need English. If you do stray off the beaten expat track, Cantonese will be way more useful than Mandarin - and their Mandarin is generally pretty poor, anyway. But if you get a phrasebook, do make sure the characters are traditional, not the simplified version we use on the Mainland - not that that should be a problem if you're looking for a Cantonese phrasebook.

    wow, sorry for the threadjack

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2011 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I always thought it was Cantonese, which I gather is much better for swearing and cussing.

    No, it's Mandarin. My Mandarin is pretty rusty these days, but much of what they're saying is pretty intelligible. There are a few points where you can tell that someone's hoping that if they say it as fast as possible it'll sound OK, but mostly it's basic Mandarin spoken with a somewhat odd accent.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I always thought it was Cantonese, which I gather is much better for swearing and cussing

    Thats a whole other discussion, which language is best, or worst, for serious swearing and cussing.
    And what words in different languages are used as swear words . Lithuanians are keen on toads for example. And there are indigenous swear words threatened by imports.

    I have been make a part time study of curses - they can be more poetic that cussing and it surprises me as a English speaker how mild some seem .
    Turkish curse: May your shirt catch fire.
    Irish: The treatment of the boiled broken little fish to you
    WTF ?
    My favorite
    Chinese: May you get everything you wish for
    So subtle

    Lets have a swearing and cussing thread Russel !

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 474 posts Report Reply

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