Recasting the Fictional Beauties of My Childhood

Written by Michael Cole

I want to start off, by saying, this post has been written, and rewritten more than a half dozen times in my brain.  I talked to Paul about it at the beginning of the summer, and for several weeks, it seemed as though every time I was ready to write it, something new would happen in the news that would make me take pause, and wait to see how things were going to settle in the end.  As of this past week, I think they’re all settled—at least for long enough that I can comfortably write this post and publish it before it’s out-of-date.  That being said, let’s dive in.

I have maintained, for a long time now, that Mary Jane Watson and Ariel from The Little Mermaid, are the reason why myself, and many men of my generation have a special place in our hearts (I’m going with hearts, since I had crushes on both characters pre-puberty) for redheaded women.  As I grew up, most of the time I saw redheaded women, I found them more attractive on average, than a similar looking woman with any other hair color.  As I grew up, the characters that caught my attention on shows, became the women with red hair, i.e. Joan on Mad Men, and Ygritte on Game of Thrones.

Ok, one of two possible scenarios are at play here: 1. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man suit has some kind of built in plastic cup or shield around his crotch to keep his erections from bulging out of the skin tight spandex. 2. He DOES have an erection bulging out, but Zendaya’s leg is obstructing the view in this photo. Either way, you gotta respect the confidence to be filming in THAT position, in that suit, on an open set, and be willing to roll the dice.

When I learned that Zendaya’s character in the MCU/Sony Spider-Man films, was supposed to be MJ (although not Mary Jane) it didn’t bother me, but it did make me think. At first I started thinking about the impact that comic book MJ had on me, and I wondered if this may have the same effect on a younger generation toward black women.  Of course, at some point in the past few months, Disney announced that they were casting Halle Bailey as Ariel in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, and the question repeated itself in my mind.

Now, at first I thought, “that would be great if these characters helped another generation to find the beauty in a group of people that they may other-wise have not thought about in that way,” but I don’t think I was right on that.  First off, I think that so far with Zendaya’s MJ as opposed to comic book MJ, there is a significant amount less sexualization, and that’s probably a good thing.  I don’t remember much about MJ as a character, other than her calling Peter ‘Tiger,’ and I remember pictures of her more than anything.  Ariel is the same thing, I remember her character, and while it was problematic I always liked it, but at least half of my fascination was with the seashell bra.  This year’s Aladdin, live-action remake, did a lot of work desexualizing Princess Jasmine, and I think Disney is likely to do the same with Ariel.

Peter would have asked if he could take MJ’s coat for her, but all the blood in his brain had just plunged into his dick.

The second reason, that I think my initial thought that perhaps this idea was a good one, is that while there was something innocent about it, I do think there ultimately ends up being a fetishization of these characters, and their physical characteristics within the original material.  There are demographics, based on race and gender combinations that are more or less statistically attractive, and unfortunately, black women (along with asian men) tend to be statistically disadvantaged in this way.  I had heard and read that enough times that it supported my original idea that maybe lifting black women up in this was a good thing, and I will say this, if Ariel is bad-ass, and inspires black girls to be bad-ass, or if MJ challenges the stereotypes of women, that’s great, and so far I do think Disney is doing a great job with that.  They’re doing better than I would have, based on my own warped logic going into this.  I had to realize that there is a huge difference between fetishizing, and raising up.  Disney is raising up, and I was thinking indirectly, “hey wouldn’t it be cool if a bunch of kids ended up with a black woman fetish.”  It wasn’t my intention, but it was essentially what I was thinking.  Hell, it was initially what I was pitching to Paul.

So, now that I have that out of the way, now that I’ve talked about the two characters who really shaped much of my physical attraction, I want to shift gears slightly, and talk about a bit of news that came out the day that I was first ‘ready’ to write this.  In the next James Bond film, 007 will be played by a black woman.  There has been speculation for years about who would be Daniel Craig’s replacement in the James Bond cufflinks, with a lot of speculation going to Idris Elba (who I think would be awesome if he’s still young enough when the mantel gets passed).  Trying, I think to do two thing, test the waters, but also stir up some hype in the form of controversy, it was announced that there would be a new 007, and that it would be Lashana Lynch.

I think they were testing the waters, because they announced that she would be the new 007, and waited until speculation and feedback came in, before announcing, that in the plot of the new film, Bond has retired, and is replaced in his title of 007, and then he is pulled back in while in retirement.  It was a soft way of testing things out, to see if perhaps we’re more into 007 or James Bond.  It’s similar to what Mission Impossible did with Jeremy Renner a few years ago.  It’s not a bad plan, and we will see how it plays out in that way, but it also kind of plays into my general topic.

James Bond is perhaps one of the most sexualized male characters in cinematic history, and the way in which going about that has been drastically different from how they’ve sexualized women.  Is it possible, that we’re going to get a female version of that?  Will this change how female sexuality plays out on screen?  Also, we have a character who is very much the coolest person in the room, and definitely has shaped young men’s idea of what a man is, will a black female 007 do the same for young women?

I think he’d make an awesome Batman

In the past few years in cinema, there has been a lot of talk about representation, and for the most part I think that it has been a good thing, and honestly I’m not one of these people who get’s bent out of shape when they change a character I like, or even love.  I understand that most of these things are constantly evolving, and I don’t personally want to see the same old thing over and over.  But I really think that these three examples are interesting, because they’re a bit different than other roles.  Nick Fury, changing from a white man to a black man, had little impact as far as I can see, because the character was always one of authority, and I never associated with him, and I never felt an attraction to him, or to be like him.  I also have to consider what it means for other people, and I don’t know.  On the one hand, I think of all the black women I think are cool, or bad-ass, or beautiful, and it’s not a short list, and I wonder if that’s blinding me to a problem that’s real? Perhaps these casting decisions will help to solve that. I don’t know, but I think it’s important to ask some of these questions of ourselves.

Article by Michael Cole

Mike Cole is a published author, freelance writer, & filmmaker. He is a happily married father of one.

Editors Note: Photos and their subsequent captions were added by Paul Wright… So, you know, don’t blame Mike.

PODCAST: Spider-Man: Far From Home Review! (SPOILERS)

Hi Everyone,

Paul here…

On this episode of The World’s Best Podcast, we review one of my most anticipated movies of the summer and the latest film to feature everyone’s favorite wallcrawler: Spider-Man: Far From Home. As the final film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 3 of films, we go over the action sequences, the villains, the friends and foes in Peter Parker’s life, and all the twists and turns along the way.

This movie has some HUGE revelations and twists, so I recommend avoiding SPOILERS at all cost before seeing this film. But after you see the movie, come on back and listen to our awesome breakdown of this kick ass superhero flick! Listen here or subscribe on Spreaker, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, and ITunes:

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/18456482

iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-worlds-best-podcast/id1246038441?i=1000443580959

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/s?eid=62350346&autoplay=1

Thanks for listening and enjoy!

-Paul

P.S. This poster right here…

… is the ONLY official poster for the film I put up with this article. What a shitty, shitty poster. All the other art here is the work of some incredibly talented artists I found online. STEP UP YOU GAME, SONY!

PODCAST: July Movie & TV Preview! Stranger Things 3! Spider-Man: Far From Home! & More!


Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

   LIVE FROM RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL! …Well… No, not really… But it’s a good show anyway! On this week’s episode of The World’s Best Podcast, guest co-host Paul Sr. and I discuss the must see movies and TV series coming up next month, in our July Movie & TV Preview! We give you the scoop on Spider-Man: Far From Home, Stranger Things 3, Young Justice: Outsiders & more! Of course, along the way we take some of our usual nonsensical detours, but that’s part of the fun! 

  I also wanted to mention, as a public service announcement, that the word around the campfire is that Spider-Man: Far From Home is not only spectacular, but it also has a lot of cool surprises and twists and turns. Besides the trailer I have posted below, I’d recommend avoiding anymore trailers or clips from Spider-Man: Far From Home. From what I’ve heard, this is a movie you want to go into knowing as little as possible. Speaking of trailers, you can also check out the latest trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home, as well as Stranger Things 3 and Young Justice: Outsiders at the end of this article.

   As a little bonus for our World’s Best Media readers and subscribers, I wanted to bring your attention to a few other movies and TV shows premiering in July that we didn’t have time to go over on the podcast. First up, we have Amazon Prime’s new series The Boys. Based on the incredible comic book series created by writer Garth Ennis and artist Darick Robertson, The Boy’s takes place in a world where superheroes exist, but they’re reckless, entitled assholes who are way more likely to kill a bunch of innocent people as collateral damage than they are to save the day. When these pricks get really out of hand, The Boys step in. The Boy’s are a covert government team of violent lunatics who fuck up and/or kill superheroes who get out of line. Garth Ennis is the amazing writer behind the comic book classic Preacher as well as writing the most iconic run on The Punisher of all time. If you’re at all familiar with Ennis’ writing you won’t be surprised that The Boys is batshit insane in the best possible way.  Everything I’ve seen so far has indicated that the show is pretty damn faithful to the source material. I’m pretty psyched for this one. Make sure you check out the trailer posted below. The Boys premieres on Amazon Prime on July 26.

   Lastly, we have the new DCAU movie (or DC Animated Universe movie), Batman:Hush. I’m alway excited when one these new animated movies come out. They may not always knock out of the park, but when they do it’s fucking spectacular. Batman: Hush is based on the comic book storyline of the same name, an iconic Batman story written by Jeph Loeb (Batman: The Long Halloween) and legendary artist Jim Lee. The story is a sprawling mystery about a mysterious madman calling himself Hush, who’s hellbent on destroying Batman and everything he loves. The story is a trip through the most iconic parts of Batman’s world, featuring everyone from The Joker and Ras Al Ghul to Superman and Nightwing. This movie has the potential to be great, so I hope DC really nails this story. The trailer is posted below. Batman: Hush hits digitally on July 20th and on Blu-Ray August 6th.

Anyway, listen to this week’s episode of The World’s Best Podcast here or subscribe on Stitcher, Google Podcasts, & iTunes: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/18357511

iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-worlds-best-podcast/id1246038441?i=1000442525170

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/s?eid=62122898&autoplay=1

Trailers:

Thanks for reading and listening! Enjoy!

-Paul

PODCAST: Spider-Man: Far From Home Trailer Breakdown!

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

  With Avengers: Endgame, a historic era in cinema has come to a close. Marvel’s Infinity Saga ended on an unprecedented high note. Avengers: Endgame opened to critical acclaim while shattering box office records. By the end of it’s theatrical run, it’s very likely Avengers: Endgame will be the biggest movie in film history. Perhaps most importantly, the film delivered an emotional and thrilling experience for MCU fans all over the world, who have come to love these characters. This movie delivered and then some. It lived up to the hype. It knocked it out of the park. Pick your euphemism.

Spidey’s Stealth Suit

  While The Infinity Saga may be finished and though we’ve said goodbye to some of our most beloved characters, The MCU will live on. The first Post-Endgame film, Spider-Man: Far From Home, opens in just a few months. With this new trailer, not only does the film look like a fantastic follow up to Homecoming, it also showcases how the cataclysmic events of Infinity War and Endgame have effected the world.

Quentin Beck AKA Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal)

On this episode of The World’s Best Podcast, I’ll be breaking down the new trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home. I’ll be talking about Easter Eggs, how the film looks to be taking inspiration from certain comic books, and speculate about where the story may go, as well as how this film may be interpreting some new characters in the franchise. I’ve posted the trailer below, if you haven’t had a chance to see it yet or you just want to watch it again:

  I had a pretty cool experience recently that I talk about in this episode as well. Though I didn’t get a chance to interview him, I did have the privilege to meet one of Marvel Comics’ classic artists: Bob Layton. Bob is probably most well known for the seminal Iron Man story “Demon In A Bottle”. This was a story that was often brought up as a reason for Robert Downey Jr. being a great choice to play Iron Man. The story follows Tony Stark’s descent into alcoholism, which parallels Downey Jr.’s own struggles with substance abuse a few decades ago (I’ve always been of the opinion that’s a very reductive view of addiction and is a little insulting to excellent work Robert Downey Jr. has done with the character, but that’s neither here nor there). Bob was a really nice, down to earth guy. When I met him he had been doing signings for fans for at least 4 or 5 hours, most people would be worn out after all that, but from what I could see, he genuinely enjoys meeting his fans. So, it was nice to have a relatively private conversation with him even for just a few minuets. I talk about my conversation with him in more detail at the end of the episode. He signed this fantastic print of one his Iron Man covers for me, which is probably one of Marvel’s more iconic comic book covers. It’s from the aforementioned “Demon In A Bottle” storyline and I have picture of the signed piece below.

Anyway, you can listen to the episode here or subscribe on Stitcher, Spotify, and ITunes: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/17857074

iTunes:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-worlds-best-podcast/id1246038441?i=1000437401581

Stitcher:

Thanks for listening!

-Paul