Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Trouble with Caviezels

I have to share this episode of QAnon Anonymous about Jim Caviezel and his connection to America's most destructive alternative facts. Pun intended, it's simply relevant to this blog's interests. 

Content warning within the podcast for antisemitism, racism, mention of sexual harassment, and homophobia. 

Some of these stories are rather amusing tales from the set of Person of Interest; others are harder to listen to. Jim Caviezel, it seems, is not only not a very good person, but also not a very smart person. I'm chagrined but not surprised, because straight white men are so often disappointing. 

(I know Not All Straight White Men. My dad is one. I'm married to one. I know a great number of you guys are kind, thoughtful, wonderful people. If you're not doing unkind things to people, then you should have nothing to feel defensive about.) 

Not problematic in any way: Taraji P. Henson. In fact, according to The Grio (which I believe is from the same parent company as the NBC television network), she has started a mental health campaign for African-American children called The Unspoken Curriculum. Taraji is as beautiful on this inside as she is on the outside, and she's very beautiful on the outside. 

Taraji, like my unproblematic straight white male fave Jon Bernthal*, is from Washington, D.C., which may soon be our 51st state. (Taxation without representation is problematic, which is why I also support statehood for Puerto Rico, if my fellow Americans in PR want it.) If you want to support students in the arts in DC so they can grow up to be future Tarajis and Jons, you can check out this book:

Sometimes I Have to Be Brave was written by student authors during the quarantine. It's a project of 826DC, a nonprofit company that gives kids in DC schools the tools they need to express themselves in writing. 

If you'd like to learn more about the Indianapolis Sikh community, you can read The Art and Spirit of K.P. Singh. Mr. Singh shares his visual art in this book as well as his writing. He was born in India and has lived in Indianapolis for over 40 years. I saw him on the local news this morning and I like having the opportunity to share something nice and positive after our city had a trauma. 

*He genuinely does seem to be a good guy, just acting and hanging out with this nurse wife Erin and their two sons and a daughter at their ranch in Ojai. I doubt we'll ever catch Jon Bernthal doing anything antisemitic, since he is Jewish. 

P.S. The Night at the Museum trilogy is on Disney+ now, if you want to see Jon as Al Capone. It also has Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart. 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Book Vs. Movie Podcast Episode: Arrival (2016)

Content warning, again, for mentions of violence and mentions of racism. 

Last week, I mentioned that this week's episode of Book Vs. Movie Podcast would be about the movie Arrival, based on the short story by Ted Chiang. That podcast episode is out now:

Because Chiang is a Chinese-American author, I referred in that previous blog post to incidents of anti-Asian-American violence. Another podcast, The Sauce with Maya Gurantz and Rebecca Cohan, covered the specific incident I mentioned in that post, namely the shooting incident that happened in Indianapolis on Thursday, April 15, 2021. 

The shooting took the lives of eight innocent people, including four who were members of the Sikh community. In their podcast, Gurantz and Cohan approach the shooter (who died by suicide shortly after the attack) from a perspective I didn't expect: through his association with the Bronies, an online community of men who engage in fandom culture related to the 2010s incarnation of My Little Pony

As a Gen Xer and an '80s kid, I remember My Little Pony from the toys, cartoons, and puffy stickers I had/watched as a child. Here's 8-year-old me playing with some My Little Pony toys and a Care Bear.

We could get into the historical circumstances of the Ronald Reagan era, the end of the Fairness Doctrine, and how it allowed cartoons that were essentially 22-minute commercials to turn my generation into superconsumers who love corporations in a way that Millennials and Gen Z find weird and disgusting. But that's a topic for, perhaps, another day. 

Although I'm well-known to suffer from bouts of nostalgia, in general I don't watch the remakes of cartoons I watched as a child. I haven't seen the Voltron, She-Ra: Princess of Power, or My Little Pony remakes of the 2010s. (I might watch She-Ra, though. I've heard a lot of good things.) Through the power of pop culture, I'm aware of the Bronies. They were even parodied in a 2014 episode of Bob's Burgers

I hadn't heard about the connection between the mass murderer and the cartoon show. If you're prepared to fall down this particular rabbit hole, listen as Gurantz and Cohan explain how Bronies, neo-Nazis, and the lunatic QAnon conspiracy theory are all connected. It's super gross. 

But in a way, now I better understand how medieval people ended up in bizarre death cults after their experiences with the Black Plague. Yay, history. 

If you're reading this in the future: Life during the pandemic was a mess, my guys, gals, and nonbinary pals. Be good, love your neighbors, protect your neighbors, don't be a Nazi, and don't allow Nazis in your fandom space. People who claim that they're "using Nazi symbols ironically" and "testing the limits of free speech" are not making those arguments in good faith, and you can't engage with them as if they were. 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Podcast Episode Rec: 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' on Book Vs. Movie

Content warning: I mention violence and anti-Asian American hate in this post, below the Spotify embed.

As I sadly had to report last time, Jim Caviezel is canceled due to some QAnonsense. But you know who isn't canceled? The lady Ms. Taraji P. Henson. 

You can read my review of Taraji's memoir here. I bought it from Half Price Books, but you could also support your favorite independent bookstore by buying it from My favorite destination is Brain Lair Books, which was recently featured in Publishers Weekly

Among Taraji's best films is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, for which she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. The Brad Pitt-Cate Blanchett vehicle (which I've technically seen but didn't observe closely - it was on in the background while I did something) is based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This week, the Book Vs. Movie podcast (mentioned in the 5 Recommended Podcasts post) compared the movie to the short story. I listen to my podcasts on Spotify. You can find the episode on Spotify here:

Next week's episode is about Ted Chiang's scifi short story "Story of Your Life," which was adapted into the film Arrival starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. Check it out. 

And if you wanted to, you could also buy Ted Chiang's book from (There are no affiliate links in this post. Informational only.) The Nebula- and Hugo Award-winning author is Chinese-American. May is Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, and it's never a bad idea to read more Asian and Asian diaspora writers. 

It's really awful and unfortunate, but hate crimes against Asian-Americans are on the rise. I happen to live in Indianapolis, where last month we had a horrific crime take place that took the lives of four members of the Sikh community. The south side of Indianapolis, in addition to a large South Asian-American community, also has a large number of people who are Chin, an ethnicity from Burma. Many of my Chin neighbors are practicing Christians who didn't feel free to practice their religion in Burma. (Burma is in a humanitarian crisis right now, with many refugees having to flee from the government.)

I strongly favor everything that protects and empowers people of Asian descent, and you know what? Buying and reading fiction really does help, on an individual level. Not only do Asian-American authors need their royalties, but reading fiction also encourages empathy, as readers learn to put ourselves in the shoes of people who aren't exactly like us. 

Of course, I do know that buying and reading diverse authors is not a substitute for addressing systemic racism. I'm not suggesting that it is. I'm suggesting we do both. 

The co-hosts of Book Vs. Movie podcast are one Caucasian and one Latina. Support their podcast, support independent bookstores, support your local Black-owned businesses, protect your Black friends and neighbors*, support your local Asian American-owned businesses, and protect your neighbors of Asian descent - including yourself, if applicable. We're all in Year 2 of this pandemic together, so let's all do our parts and help each other out. 

*If the phrase "Black lives matter" seems controversial to you, do not interact with me in any way. This is a matter of life and death and I don't have to time to explain to people who are behaving in bad faith that human lives do, in fact, have value.