Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Fan Con Shenanigans

At work on Friday, April 20, I am sitting in my office in between lunch periods really just waiting for the day to end.  If you follow me on social media, you know I work in education at a high school and 4/20 day is not an easy day for schools.  Between the national walk out day and the 4/20 Smoke Out Day, it had been somewhat stressful on administration.

I come into my office and pull out my phone to check my email at brothascomics and I see a message from Jamie Broadnax- the head of Black Girl Nerds- one of the most influential sites in Blerd culture.  I have never met Jamie and was kinda puzzled as to why I was getting an email directly from her.  So I opened it and saw that Universal Fan Con had been postponed and I was stunned.  FanCon was to be the next weekend and the event was being cancelled a week out.  I immediately went to Twitter to see if maybe I( or they) had been spammed.  In my mind, I thought there was no real way they were gonna cancel this event so close to the actual opening.  Twitter was initially silent about it which made me think it was spam.  I tweeted a couple of people I know and trust on Twitter and they had not heard anything either.

Maybe an hour or so later, the floodgates burst and all the tea just began spilling out about the Fan Con debacle.  It seems all that Kickstarter money, whatever money they had made from pre-sales, merchandise, etc was not enough to cover and pay for the event that weekend. People were shook and still are.  Reading the tweets and information that came out during and after has sent a ripple effects through the Blerd Community.  People have lost trust, jobs, money, and friendships over this.  And really for what?  Pride, ego, and hubris.

From what it sounds like, the people running FanCon wanted the first year of this event to be a big, special event celebrating diversity within nerd culture.  No one disputes that POC, LGBTQ, women, et all are all underrepresented in the culture of comics, sci fi, gaming, etc.  FanCon was to help bridge that gap.  But piecing together information that has come out, it looks like in all this planning, no one had the big picture involved.  It seems that organizers wanted to stunt to make this event about themselves and how it was gonna help their brand- forgetting all about the fans who bought into the purpose of FanCon,

Info from affiliates and those who are being transparent show that the con was in serious trouble in early February.  There was talks that maybe the event should be scaled back or even at that time, postponed.  For whatever reason, which I am sure will come out eventually,  the organizers decided to push through and the thing collapsed around their feet leaving in its wake pissed off fans and creatives who put their money and heart into FanCon.

Now what?  Brands have been severely damaged.  Peoples names is being dragged all over the place and, trust in starting or funding a Kickstarter for similar events or projects is now trashed.  If the founders of FanCon run that money to all the people, that would be a start.  If people came out and said" yeah, I fucked up". That would also help but early in this crisis has been a lot of hiding and passing the buck with very little accountability.  As of writing this, many women writers from Black Girl Nerds have resigned as did the founder and President, Jamie Broadnax.

This has been alot for me- no matter how many jokes you seen me get off on Twitter. As a Blerd who has a very small imprint in our community, FanCon did mean something to me.  I was an original Kickstarter backer. I didn't donate much, but I did put some money down.  I had originally planned to go to the event, but had to back out because of financial constraint brought on by a medical situation with my mom.  But Brothascomics was still gonna represent with one of our supporters being there for the weekend.

Its a shame because the idea behind FanCon and its purpose still hold true and strong.  Marginalized people are still underrepresented in this genre and having  a safe place for that is needed.  We just put our faith in the wrong people.

The Producer

Venom Trailer React

I am going to kinda, sort of, a little bit, go against the grain here about this trailer.  The first teaser trailer where we did not see the symbiote, people ran that one because if you have a movie called Venom, people want to see Venom.  And I get that.  Now with this new trailer, you get the full reveal and people is mad because Venom looks like a pinata.

Overall, besides the reveal, the movie looks kinda, sort of interesting.  I do love the idea of an evil corporation using the symbiotes for evil purposes.  The CGI, besides Venom, looked okay.  I think overall people just don't like the idea of Sony messing with Venom after shitting on the character so hard in Spider-Man 3.  And that skepticism is fully justified.

Will I see it in theaters, tho and pay my hard earned money?  I don't know about all of that!

The Producer

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Is it worth a Redbox: Wonder

As a lifelong educator- with many of those years spent in elementary school, I have seen the cover for the book Wonder for many years.  In Georgia, Wonder was one of the literacy books for 5th grade that every 5th grader would need to read.  For some reason, when my son was in 5th grade, they chose a different book while he was in 5th grade so he never got to read it.  Then when we moved to Florida, they did not have a 5th grade book requirement and my daughter didn't read it either.

I heard about the movie coming out, but I didn't have any real desire to see it.  Honestly, a movie starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson is kryptonite to me.  I had no thought of seeing it.  But then my daughter, as she is known to do, convinced me to rent the movie at Redbox.

And surprisingly, even with those 2 actors, the movie is very good.  It tells the story of Augie, a very bright young man who was born with a genetic defect that makes him look different.  Often times he wears a mask or a space helmet to hide his face from others.  Even though his family loves him, they are super protective of him as well and when the family makes a decision to send him to public school after years of being home schooled, there is rightful sense of fear.

And Augie's first few days are rough, he has a hard time making friends and some of the so called friends he has are not to be trusted.  The movie gives a fair look at all the people who inhabit the orbit around Augie: his parents, his sister, and even his "friends" at school.

Honestly the movie is wonderful.  So Wonderful, I went out and bought the book for my daughter so she could compare the similarities and differences between the two. Plus, Wonder has several books related to the main book which my daughter is also reading.

So is it worth a Redbox? Absolutely!  A great family film with a lesson about being kind to others- something we all can be better at.

The Producer

We Watched it for You: Roxane Roxanne

You would have to know me pretty well to know how much I loved UTFO back in the 80's.  For those of you under the age of 30, UTFO stands for Untouchable Force Organization.  These rappers  consisting of the Kangol Kid, Dr Ice, The Educated Rapper( RIP) and their DJ Mix Master Ice were a staple of my hip hop diet in 1984.  The blew up in 1984 with a record called Roxanne Roxanne- a story of unrequited love between the rappers and a neighborhood girl.  It was their biggest hit and spawned so many copy cat records and disss records to respond- we could do a whole article on them.

Who was the real Roxanne that UTFO was speaking about?  Well the Netflix movie Roxanne Roxanne does not answer that question.  This movie is about the young girl who would grow up to become Roxanne Shante and her life growing up in the Queens Bridge Projects. 

As the story goes, Roxanne, played by Chante Adams, was a great rapper already in Queens Bridge and would battle rap all comers- even if they didn't wan to battle a girl.  As her friend would say, " The Champ is here" and her freestyle was known throughout Queens. 

However, if you have ever listened to any New York based hip hop, The Queens Bridge Projects aint exactly the best place to raise children, and Roxanne's mom recognizes that and does her best to scrape and save all her money to get her, her man, and her 3 girls out of Queens Bridge.  Sadly, her man, steals their house down payment money and runs off and the family is stuck in the projects.  The mother, played by Nia Long, devolves into alcohol and depression and this fractures her relationship with her daughter.  There is physical violence, but more emotional abuse than a 13 year old girl should have to endure.

From moving out and back in, Roxanne still raps and one day while doing the laundry, a local DJ has her come in a cut a rap over the beat for Roxanne Roxanne and the song becomes a hit and with her now taking the name Roxanne Shante.  This new found fame leads to signings, cars, clothes, and the hopes of money.  But as Q-Tip told us a few years later, the record business is shady and those shady dealings leave Roxanne with a hit record with nothing really to show for it.

During this time, she also meets up with local, hood legend, Cross, played by Mahershala Ali, who is twice her age and a terrible influence on Roxanne.  In between the physical abuse, they have a child together and its the only thing holding her there as the fame and no fortune begin to fade.

Without spoiling too much, the movie is well acted.  Check for some Easter Eggs by some of your favorite 80's and 90's rappers and the soundtrack is bumping for any old school hip hop fan. 

Overall a fun movie about a time in hip hop long forgotten.

The Producer

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Shazam Cannot be your Flagship


The article by Heroic Hollywood about Shazam being the jumping on point for DC Extended Universe is pure click bait by those guys and you can read it if you want to.  But no matter what BS they pull out of their ass, Shazam cannot be DC's jumping off point.  He has been and always will be a third teir, Superman knock off.  That's what he is and even his most stringent fans see and recognize that.

DC has eroded so much of their fans enthusiasm over the last 3 years with middling movies and attempting to give a push to a middling character to reinvigorate the franchise is foolhardy at best.  DC would do best to just go ahead and do a soft reboot- starting with Wonder Woman 2.  Do not feel rushed to put out any other movies and build out from there.  They do not need to recast Batman or Superman; although the case can be made to get rid of them both to rid the stink.  Let Wonder Woman be the flagship of the movie universe and build out from Diana.  Stop focusing on Batman and let her build the League and gather new members like Shazam and bring them into the fold... slowly- Not by giving them their own damn movies up front.

I love Zach Levy.  He is one of my favorite actors and is a true geek icon, but this movie is not going to build back hope and trust from the comic book movie fanbase that is skeptical of all things DC right now.

The Producer

Rey's Parents


The folks over at Heroic Hollywood posted this tidbit from Simon Pegg about the different direction director Rain Johnson took with Rey's parents.  To recap( spoiler alert), Ben Solo tells Rey that her parents really weren't shit.  Just a couple of losers from Jakku which really messes up many fans narratives about who they thought her parents were.

In the article, Pegg says director JJ Abrams had a totally different take.  Feel free to the read the article in the link above.

I'll just say this... it was kinda a letdown to learn that her parents were not going to figure prominently in her history, BUT I kinda though the move by Kylo was more of a swerve to get Rey to join him in his conquest to rule the galaxy.  I figured in episode 9 we would learn the real truth and maybe we will since JJ Abrams is back to close this trilogy of movies in 2019.

What do you think?

The Producer