I love The Martian. I love The Martian. I looooooove The Martian. But we gotta talk about this whitewashing business, because it’s getting old and tired and it’s 2015, when we should not be hearing about whitewashing in Hollywood anymore. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, seeing as it’s a Ridley Scott movie (he of the deservedly-vilified Exodus: Gods and Kings movie last year, he who thought Christian Bale would be a totally acceptable Moses), but c’mon, man. Casting Chiwetel Ejiofor as a distinctly Indian NASA engineer is one thing: changing his name from Venkat Kapoor (as it is in the book) to the more Western-friendly-sounding Vincent Kapoor (in the film) is a whole other mess entirely. Also, white actress Mackenzie Davis as Asian-American satellite engineer Mindy Park? Someone needs to sit Ridley Scott down and remind him what century we’re living in. Seeing more than one Asian person onscreen isn’t gonna rupture anyone’s brain cells with disbelief.
– Gabby Taub, Staff Writer
To say that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new musical Hamilton is ‘on my list’ this month is a gross understatement. Ever since the soundtrack dropped, it’s all I’ve been able to think about. Telling my friends about it is awkward (“No, guys, it’s a three hour hip hop musical about the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton and it’s so good”), but that hasn’t stopped me from trying to convince everyone I know to listen to it. It’s incredibly well-researched in terms of both history and hip-hop, and full of humor, romance, and pathos. I’m geeking out so hard over this musical that I bought the 800 page biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow that it’s based on. Alexander Hamilton is becoming my new hero – and before I heard this soundtrack all I knew about him was that one of our vice presidents killed him in a duel a long time ago. Now I can tell you all about his childhood in the West Indies. Seriously, ask me. I’m dying to talk to someone about it. And before you do anything else, head to Spotify or iTunes and listen to this soundtrack. Even if you don’t like history, or musicals, or hip hop, it’s so genius I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.
– Laura Jewell, Staff Writer
Somehow between working on two different productions, my day job, and my social life (ha), I’ve been reading a collection of stories by Mia Alvar called In the Country. I’m a product of the other side of the stories I’ve been reading, about ex-pats that travel to find work in order to support their families back home in the Philippines. My father has been here since the late 1980’s, mirroring the stories and circumstances I’ve been reading about for the past week. I’m learning a lot about the political history of the Philippines and the cultural practices and traditions that I wasn’t privy to before, and in the process learning a little bit more about my father as a balikbayan. Alvar’s writing is beautiful, the characters all distinct and complex, from the young boy born without fully developed legs that falls in love with a school friend to the nurse in the titular short story who creates a union when she discovers the pay discrepancies between native and foreign workers. Her stories delve into the attitudes of Filipinos (and one non-Filipino) that are at home and abroad, facing challenges in love, money, family, and what it means to be home in two different places.
– Christina Casano, Assistant Editor