4/11/2017

More NonSense: Ghost in the Shell Edition

Ghost in the Shell (1995) directed by Mamoru Oshii. Created  by Masamune Shirow.

Jakob Free provides a primer the comics of Warren Ellis.

Diep Tran on Scarlett Johansson defending the controversial casting of her as the lead character in Hollywood's remake of the 1995 anime Ghost in the Shell.

Emily Yoshida provides a primer on the Ghost in the Shell franchise.

[Spoiler alert]
The most surprising part of this otherwise bland appropriation of the 1995 anime is that the lead character Major Mira Killian (Johansson) is within the film's fictional setting a literal whitewashing of Motoko Kusanagi. If the cast and crew exhibited more self awareness, this bizarre plot twist could have been used as a jumping off point to examine the often uneven cross-cultural interactions between Japanese pop culture and Western consumers. Naturally, a few film critics quickly drew comparisons with the reveal in the contemporaneous Get Out.

But there's nothing in Johansson's performance which would indicate any emotional depth beyond the character's immediate concern over her amnesia/false memories. Being "essentially identity-less" apparently means the Major having no discernible personality even after she recovers her real memories. The troubling implications of wealthy white people kidnapping ethnic Japanese in order to plant their brains into android bodies with distinctly caucasian features are completely swept under the rug in favour of a more generic message about the individual will triumphing over venal corporate interests. This is a short-sighted pastiche of much better movies set in a dystopian future, and misses by a wide margin the philosophical introspection of the 1995 feature.
[End spoiler]

Since the film had a disappointing opening weekend, Joanna Robinson wanders if its commercial failure will have a positive effect on future casting choices.

Four actresses of Japanese descent give their opinions on the film.

Barry Blitt talks about drawing Donald Trump for the New Yorker.

Marvel's VP of Sales claims that readers don't want diversity. G. Willow Wilson pens a logical rebuttal. In essence, we're witnessing the comics market outgrow the traditional direct market.
On a practical level, this is not really a story about “diversity” at all. It’s a story about the rise of YA comics. If you look at it that way, the things that sell and don’t sell (AND THE MARKETS THEY SELL IN VS THE MARKETS THEY DON’T SELL IN) start to make a different kind of sense.
Meanwhile, Rob Salkowitz dissects the dysfunction hampering the direct market. These aren't new observations. But it bears worth repeating.
Because of this topsy-turvy arrangement with misaligned incentives and mismatched roles everywhere, the direct market has become a walled-off free fire zone where everyone is fighting for the same dollars, but is structurally incapable of expanding. Everyone wants new customers in theory, but it’s no one’s actual job to reach out to them and serve their needs if they are any different from the existing core. In fact, some people might lose their jobs (or find themselves in jobs they don’t want) if it were to actually happen.
As their site goes into hiatus (again), the ComicsAlliance staff talk about why they love comics.

Congratulations to Alison Bechdel, Vermont's Cartoonist Laureate.

Congratulations to the people working on Ms. Marvel and Black Panther for their nominations for the 2017 Hugo Awards.

Abraham Riesman on the time Don Rickles (May 8, 1926 – April 6, 2017) appeared on Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen.

Ben Judkins asks whether lightsaber combat can ever be authentic.

G. Willow Wilson explains why Ardian Syaf's not so veiled reference (if you're Indonesian) to a Qu'ran passage in the pages of  X-men Gold #1 is a form of bigotry against Jews/Christians. Obviously not a good look for superheroes widely considered to be an expression of pluralism, and Marvel was quick to distance itself from Syaf's message. While not the first time the franchise has courted controversy, this case is more the result of not properly vetting the actions of the artist under their supervision. A cursory examination of the panels in question (as reproduced online) reveals that Syaf only made a minimal effort integrating those references into the setting. It's hard not to notice them, and they're pretty discordant with the rest of the comic's art. But the Marvel staff's relative ignorance of Indonesian politics and Islam probably allowed Syaf to hide them in plain sight, even though they should have at least raised a few questions about the meaning behind the text printed on Colossus' shirt. Naturally, someone would inevitably point them out once the comic was released. This is highly embarrassing for Marvel, and Syaf's tenure on the series will most likely be cut short at the publisher's nearest convenience.

R.I.P. Carolyn Kelly, daughter of Pogo creator Walt Kelly.