“How a Nickelodeon Cartoon Became One of the Most Powerful, Subversive Shows of 2014”

“Before they took major risks with their teenage characters on The Legend of Korra, Konietzko and DiMartino created a modern animated classic in Avatar: The Last Airbender. (Not to be confused with the M. Night Shyamalan film The Last Airbender, which, everyone agrees, did a fairly clumsy job of capturing the magic of the original series.) The show, which aired from 2005-2008 on Nickelodeon, was a bona fide hit pulling in huge ratings for the network.

The spiritual aspect of the show (mixed in with the adventure of its young characters and borrowing directly from Eastern influences) made it tremendously influential with its young (and old) audience. Not only that, but the success of the first series bought creators Konietzko and DiMartino a lot of leeway when it came to their spin-off, which premiered in 2010.

It turns out they would need every ounce of it.

Censorship: It’s always tempting to watch something you’re not supposed to, but this week in particular, with its Sony hacks and cinematic censorship, the notion of watching something forbidden feels like an especially political move.The Legend of Korra was never quite forbidden, never completely canceled, perhaps due to that lingering Avatargoodwill. However, during the show’s first season, it aired in a coveted Saturday-morning slot. After killing off a character on-screen in the Season 1 finale, Korra was considered too risqué and adult for the Saturday-morning crowd and was moved to Friday nights. But Korra continued to air dark material. That, coupled with less-than-stellar ratings, an ill-timed leak of episodes, and any number of mysterious behind-the-scenes factors, resulted in the surprising move to online-only Korra. In its final seasons, Korra became too dangerous, too risky for Nick to air. But that outsider status made it downright irresistible to certain viewers. Especially teens.

Racial Representation: The show doesn’t take place in our world, but, as I mentioned before, it has an undeniable Eastern influence. That’s why the mostly white casting in the Shyamalan movie was so controversial…”

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2014/12/korra-series-finale-recap-gay-asami

“How Well Does ‘Daredevil’ Handle Disability Issues?”

“When the 13 episodes of season one of Daredevil went live on Netflix on April 10, Daredevil/Matthew Murdock, played by Charlie Cox, instantly became the most prominent disabled character in media.

The online community of disability activists was certainly excited. (I am a member. My son has Down syndrome and I often write about disability-related stories for mass media.) A friend of mine in England had watched ten episodes before I even got out of bed on the 10th. Alice Wong, founder of the Disability Visibility Project, organized a viewing and live-tweeted episode one under the hashtag #daredevilDVP.

But before people could even parse the quality of the episodes, the decision by Netflix not to provide audio commentary became a problem. Many blind people follow television through specially added audio descriptions of scenes and actions. The issue swept through social media. Many articles commented on the irony of a show entirely based around a blind main character being inaccessible for the blind.

An online petition was launched . After a few days, Netflix made the wise decision not only to add audio commentary to Daredevil (available as of last Tuesday), but the company also promised to add audio descriptions to lots more of its programming . Regardless of whether or not Daredevil will defeat Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio), he’s already won a victory for accessibility.

I went into the show interested in how the directors would handle scenes of what might be called “ordinary” blindness, scenes in which Murdock simply goes about his day as a regular non-superhero. Murdock is, of course, anything but ordinary.  Through his heightened senses, he’s able to perceive the world in ways that mitigate the disabling effect of his blindness. But he is still blind… ”

http://www.vice.com/read/how-well-does-daredevil-handle-disability-issues-320

“Naomi Kyle: Video Games Will ‘Change the World’ for LGBTs”

“Excuse me for just a moment,” IGN host Naomi Kyle says minutes after we sit down at a table in the lounge of the Hilton Anaheim for our scheduled interview.  Just outside the hotel doors, WonderCon — the sister convention to geekdom’s high holy event Comic-Con International — is in full swing, and a small group of fans who have wandered into the lobby are excitedly miming their desire to take selfies with her. Among them is a young girl who appears to be no older than 10; a beaming smile is splashed across her face.

Kyle patiently interacts with each fan, taking extra care with the young girl, asking her many questions about her favorite video games and all the different characters she loves to play before posing for pictures. Minutes later, as we resume our interview, the 5-foot-6 blond who has become one of the most recognizable faces of the video game industry as one of its original gamer girls shares how playing a video game changed her life.

“I still remember the first time I played Lara Croft in Tomb Raider,” she begins, looking back over her shoulder at the young girl with whom she snapped selfies just seconds earlier. “I was 12 years old, and the fact that I could play as a kick-ass female who lived in a mansion, had a butler, and could do all these acrobatics — it really empowered me and made me feel like I could be that sort of action hero. That’s when I knew video games were going to be a big part of my life.”

Today, Kyle says she’s proud to be a pioneer in the heterosexual male–dominated realm of video games as a host and producer for IGN, one of the gaming industry’s biggest news and entertainment outlets…”

http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/geek/2015/05/08/naomi-kyle-video-games-will-change-world-lgbts

“How the Success of Marvel’s Female Superheroes Heralds a More Inclusive Age of Comics”

“Promoting women-led series might seem like a novel move for Marvel, but it’s not. What’s novel is that they’re succeeding. Over the years, Marvel writers and editors have tried their hands at a number of series with female leads, but they rarely panned out, and in each case, the books were quietly canceled. One starring Peter Parker’s daughter, May, Tom DeFalco’s Spider-Girl launched in October of 1998 and, despite the protests of its fanbase, was canceled in 2010. X-23, which starred a mutant named Laura Kinney, ran for only about a year and a half — from September 2010 to March 2012. Although there have been other woman-led superhero series in Marvel’s past, they’ve been few and far between.

But now the women of Marvel are taking off in their own right. With female readership hovering at about 47 percent and women as the fastest-growing comics-reading demographic, Marvel is finally succeeding with a more diverse lineup of superheroes.

Spider-Gwen — a story set in a universe where Gwen Stacy, not Peter Parker, is bitten by a radioactive spider — is one of Marvel’s top sellers, with more than 250,000 copies of its first issue sold. Ms. Marvel, which launched just last year, is already one of the most successful books in Marvel’s lineup as well. Captain Marvel has one of the most dedicated fanbases in comics history. The new Thor features a woman in place of the hunky Hemsworthian Thunder God, and she’s outselling dude Thor by 30 percent. Silk, Black Widow, Gamora, Angela, and Spider-Woman are all female-led titles that Marvel’s launched in the past few years, and A-Force is another big step forward.

So what changed? Why are these new Marvel series succeeding where other series from the company failed? There are a few factors at work: the rise of digital comics, the growing power of female-dominated online fandom, and an increase in women creating comics…”

http://www.vulture.com/2015/05/marvels-female-superhero-renaissance.html

“Cinemax Developing Bruce Lee-Inspired Crime Drama ‘Warrior’ From Justin Lin”

“А passion project for martial arts icon Bruce Lee and Fast & Furious director Justin Lin is headed to the small screen with a deal at Cinemax. The premium cable network has put in development drama series Warrior, inspired by writings of the Enter The Dragon actor. Lin is set to direct the potential pilot, written by Jonathan Tropper, co-creator of Banshee, Cinemax’s first homegrown hit from its current foray into primetime drama programming.

Warrior is described as a visceral crime drama that traces the path of a gifted but morally corrupt fighter thrown into crisis after corrupt quest for vengeance is undermined. It was the first project for the TV division of Perfect Storm Entertainment, Lin’s joint venture with Bruno Wu’s Seven Stars Studios.  A couple of months after the launch of PSE’s TV operation in 2013, the company partnered with Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, and Bruce Lee Enterprises to develop Lee’s material into TV series…”

http://deadline.com/2015/05/bruce-lee-crime-drama-warrior-justin-lin-cinemax-1201430580/

“Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network Builds Heat With Young Latinos”

“For the first year of its on-air life, the El Rey Network has been about as DIY as any microbudget indie movie ever was, an apt trait, given the net’s origins.

Comcast gave filmmaker Robert Rodriguez a distribution commitment for the channel in the spring of 2013; El Rey snuck on the air with a soft launch in December, after Univision came onboard as a financing and operational partner. The Austin-based filmmaker and his team at FactoryMade Ventures effected some quick hires, and bought up as much programming as they could find — and afford — that focused on Rodriguez’s love for genre pics, 1970s pop culture (think “Starsky & Hutch”) and other cool stuff that would appeal to movie- and TV-loving millennials, particularly U.S.-born Hispanics.

Rodriguez also reached out to friends including Quentin Tarantino and Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci to get a handful of original series off the ground quickly. (The launch timing was dictated by Comcast’s obligation to carry multiple minority-owned channels, per the terms of its 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal.)

Now that they’ve made it through year one, Rodriguez and Co. are expanding the programming to include a broader range of original fare and fan-friendly ideas, such as the People’s Network initiative, which solicits material directly from viewers…”

http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/robert-rodriguezs-el-rey-network-builds-heat-with-young-latinos-1201450851/

“Why Ava DuVernay joining Marvel would be a big step forward”

“As the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) encourages federal and state agencies to look into the lack of female directors working in Hollywood, Marvel Studios is reportedly considering hiring “Selma” director Ava DuVernay to head up one of their films.

According to the New York Times, the ACLU asked the agencies to examine how the hiring for TV networks, movie studios, and talent agencies occurs. “Women directors aren’t working on an even playing field and aren’t getting a fair opportunity to succeed,” Melissa Goodman, director of the L.G.B.T., Gender and Reproductive Justice Project at the A.C.L.U. of Southern California, told the Times.

Kathryn Bigelow is still the only woman to have won the Best Director Oscar, which she received in 2010 for her film “The Hurt Locker…

As for DuVernay possibly coming on board at Marvel, a woman has never directed a film released by Marvel Studios…”

http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Culture-Cafe/2015/0513/Why-Ava-DuVernay-joining-Marvel-would-be-a-big-step-forward-video