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Fred Rogers isn’t your typical pop culture icon.
As the host of the long-running PBS children’s program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he wasn’t slick or sarcastic, hip or…
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The Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic, On The Basis of Sex, shows that social progress requires more than one feminist hero
On The Basis of Sex, a biopic about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, takes place in the 1950s and ’60s—a time period that current conservatives nostalgically look back on as the height of America’s greatness. It was also a time when women without husbands couldn’t get credit cards and when Black women could not occupy the same spaces as their white counterparts. It was also a time when women were heavily discouraged from pursuing careers outside of nursing, teaching, and secretarial work—but Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) blazed a trail for herself.
The film could easily have been a shiny, feel-good tale about a singular feminist hero, but what makes On The Basis of Sex stand out to me is its acknowledgement of the diverse voices who influenced RBG, and its keen awareness of the fact that sex and gender discrimination affects everybody.
The movie shows Ruth’s journey through law school and her years as a professor at Rutgers University. In 1956, she is one of nine women attempting to pursue a law degree at Harvard Law School, where she is subject to continual exclusion and prejudicial behavior. Unable to find a job as a litigator, she becomes a professor at Rutgers University. Eventually her husband, Marty Ginsburg (Armie Hammer), who is also a lawyer, approaches her with a tax case that includes multiple forms of sex and gender discrimination. Charles Moritz (Chris Mulkey), an older man taking care of his invalid mother, is denied a tax benefit that assists caretakers responsible for children or older parents—a benefit that the law claims should only belong to women since men are providers and women are caretakers.
Over the next two years, Ruth and her husband Marty put their heads together to work on the case, hoping to set a precedent that could overturn 178 laws with similar forms of sex and gender discrimination. Through a large cast of supporting and minor characters, the film demonstrates just how many diverse communities and minds it takes to truly achieve equality. It cannot be achieved by one white hero.
For example many of Ruth’s students at Rutgers are women of color who represent a new generation of second wave feminists, assisting Ruth as she researches the case and inspiring her to broaden her ideas about how true equality is really achieved.
While there are several progressive men in the movie who play a role in the case—a major one being Marty, one of the few characters offering Ruth unwavering support—the movie makes a point to emphasize that even progressive men can hold sexist views. This is particularly demonstrated through the character of Mel Wulf (Justin Theroux), the ACLU legal director. Despite the ACLU’s reputation for being strong political lobbyists for civil rights, Mel initially discourages Ruth from taking on the case. He says that if she pursues it and loses, she’ll set the women’s movement back 10 years, Mel continually reminds Ruth of her lack of litigation experience, insisting that she won’t hold up in the Supreme Court.
In a particularly poignant scene, Ruth participates in a mock trial to prepare for the case. She presents her arguments to a table of her peers, including Mel, as well as Gerald Gunther and Pauli Murray (Sharon Washington), pioneers in the Brown v. Board of Education case that desegregated American public schools. Mel and Gunther proceed to tell Ruth that she doesn’t have the litigation skills to handle the opening arguments, and that they’d prefer her husband Marty over her. They also insist that if Ruth presents the case to the Supreme Court as an issue of sex and gender discrimination, then they will lose.
But Pauli Murray, a Black lesbian feminist lawyer, believes that Ruth has the capacity to verbally present the argument in court, and suggests that Ruth and Marty equally split the responsibilities of the opening argument.
We see Pauli’s influence again when Ruth attempts to equate race and gender as unchangeable biological qualities. Pauli corrects her by emphasizing that race and gender are not the same—both are socially constructed, but ancestry and some physical traits play a role in how we perceive race. Gender, however, is how we express ourselves, and that doesn’t always line up with the biological sex we are assigned at birth.
Throughout the film, there are many women who offer similar advice to Ruth, including Dorothy Kenyon (Kathy Bates), a first wave feminist who attempted to overthrow sex and gender discrimination but ultimately failed, and Ruth’s own daughter Jane (Cailee Spaeny) who champions a more radical view of feminism that many progressive millennial women will identify with.
The film not only recalls an important historical event, but also provides a template for how we should pursue the fight for equality now. On the Basis of Sex puts Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s contributions to gender equality front and center, and her contributions were unequivocally groundbreaking. But the film’s director Mimi Leder knew to highlight the fact that social progress does not exist in a vacuum. There are no singular heroes or white saviors. Rather, as the film demonstrates, it takes a diverse cast of voices coming together to truly execute radical social change.
As Ruth Bader Ginsburg says in the movie, American culture doesn’t need a court to give it permission to change, but it does require the united commitment to equality evident in its namesake.
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It’s been clear from our first look at DC’s new movie version of Aquaman that it’s going to be very different from the classic comics fans know so well. Jason Momoa is bringing a very different look and vibe to Arthur Curry, and Patrick Wilson is bringing an equally different — but oddly familiar — look to Arthur’s temperamental oceanic half-brother and film’s primary villain, Orm. As fans were quick to notice, Wilson’s version of Orm actually looks a lot like the original comics version of Aquaman himself.
Orm’s Supposed to Look Like Classic Aquaman
It turns out, Wilson planned it that way. His interpretation of the character’s look is both a nod to the comics and a way to differentiate him from the movie’s titular hero. “I’m not gonna lie, that was quite intentional [and] quite on purpose,” Wilson told Fandom. “In all the comics of Orm, he’s the opposite of Aquaman physically. He’s always very brooding and dark, and I thought, when you’ve got Jason Momoa playing Aquaman, we cannot do a typical Orm. He’s got to go the other way.”
Orm’s slicked-back blonde hair — which was an idea from director James Wan — is meant to stand apart from Momoa’s messy, gorgeous, brunette mane. “I didn’t want [Orm to have] really long hair — because Jason’s got really long hair. So [I thought], ‘Why don’t we go blonde and short and closer to the classic Aquaman?’ I thought it’d be cool,” Wilson explained. “I wanted those moments when [Orm] came out of the water to be like, ‘Oh, look, it’s almost like what Aquaman used to look like!’”
Wilson’s Role in Watchmen Helped Him on Aquaman
Wilson knows the importance of source material — especially when it comes to comics. It’s a lesson he learned when he starred as Dan Drieberg (aka Nite Owl) in 2009’s film adaptation of the graphic novel Watchmen. “I did not grow up reading comics as a kid, so I approach them from an actor’s perspective,” he said. “When your first induction into comics is Watchmen, then you know how deep they can be, how emotional they can be, how they can reflect social and political issues.”
Wilson devoured all the available comics that included Orm, from earlier years to New 52, the more recent comic series. “It’s a huge world of material to sink into. I love it, I think I’ve read every Orm that’s out there. I love looking at old, classic Orm, and then obviously, for me, New 52, which is closer to what we built [the movie version of] Orm off of. I think the power of comics and the power of the language in comics when you’re talking about having to write just a few words in a panel and having that reflect an image — it’s a great tool for actors.”
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Former President George H. W. Bush — a World War II hero, distinguished public servant and patriarch of an American political dynasty — died on Friday. He was 94. Bush’s death was announced in a statement by his office that said he passed in Houston at 11 p.m. New York time. “He was more than…
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Warning: Contains spoilers for the movie Outlaw King
And whenever talk of Scottish independence ramps up — not infrequently; a referendum on the topic failed in 2014 — people look for lessons in the story of the legendary king who led Scotland to independence in the 14th century: Robert I, also known as Robert the Bruce (Bruce being his family name). So it’s perhaps fitting that, amid the ongoing political turmoil, a dramatization of his story is in theaters and becomes available for streaming on Netflix on Friday. Outlaw King stars Chris Pine (and, yes, all of Chris Pine) and is based on a pivotal period in Scottish history.
The film begins with the English siege of the Scots’ Stirling Castle in 1304, as a Warwolf — a huge medieval trebuchet — lobs boulders at the stronghold, in a motion similar to “an overarm pitch,” explains one of the film’s historical advisors Tony Pollard, Professor of Conflict History & Archaeology at the University of Glasgow (who also served as historical advisor to the TV series Outlander). At that time, most of Scotland’s castles were already occupied by English garrisons, and the King of England, Edward I, was flexing his power as overlord of Scotland and demanding the Scottish elites give him their fealty.
A succession crisis in Scotland had empowered Edward I. There were no heirs to the Scottish throne left after the death of the King of Scots Alexander III in 1286, so the Scottish nobility put together a committee of guardians to keep the government running. After the death of the Queen of Scots Margaret, Maid of Norway, in 1290, the guardians asked Edward I to come serve as an independent arbitrator to evaluate claims to the Scottish throne. As a result, John Balliol became King of Scotland in 1292.
But his reign didn’t last long. After Balliol sought an alliance with France, England’s enemy back then, Edward I himself came back to invade Scotland and drive out Balliol in 1296.
Now the independent kingdom of Scotland was facing direct rule by the English crown. Hard up for cash after the invasion, having “stretched his resources to a breaking point,” Edward I tried to shake down the Scots — including seizing their wool, the country’s main export at the time, according to Dauvit Broun, a professor of Scottish History at the University of Glasgow, who wasn’t involved in the film.
That’s when Robert the Bruce decided that enough was enough. He declared himself King of Scotland.
But in order to rule, Robert had to eliminate the competition. Scottish nobles who backed Balliol had been keeping a government going in his name. To be king, Robert the Bruce would have to get rid of anyone who challenged his own claim to the crown. So in February of 1306 at the church of Greyfriars in Dumfries, Robert the Bruce met with John “The Red” Comyn, one of the most powerful nobles in Scotland, who had been spearheading the effort to establish a Balliol kingship. Comyn didn’t walk away from the meeting alive.
There’s debate about whether Robert the Bruce killed Comyn himself or whether accomplices did, but he’s thought to have been in on it — and in the film, he’s depicted as murdering John “The Red” Comyn himself, which is what many people think happened. Robert the Bruce and his wife Elizabeth de Burgh were inaugurated King and Queen of Scots at Scone shortly after. Not a lot is known about de Burgh, and later in the year she was taken prisoner in England.
But, though the murder of John Comyn secured his power in one way, it also made Robert the Bruce — who by then called himself King Robert I — a toxic figure in Scottish society. Soon enough, he was forced to flee.
“The most powerful nobles of Scotland treat him as a terrorist,” says Broun. “Not only is Robert I trying to establish an independent Scotland, but [also] he’s facing a civil war.”
In June of 1306, he struggled to keep up with the English army in the Battle of Methven, depicted in the film. “He’s basically an outlaw and the English are trying to bring him to book,” says Pollard. “[Robert the Bruce] comes close to being captured and beaten.”
His time as a fugitive is a mystery to historians.
“Nobody knows where he went when he was fugitive, but it looks like he thought hard about strategy,” says Broun. “He stayed out of a battle until he knew he’d have a better chance of winning, and that was controversial because kings were meant to be military heroes. He resolved that every castle he took he would destroy because he reckoned that, for the King of England to win, he would need to garrison Scotland, and you can’t do that unless you’ve got castles. It’s a bit like taking a bomb and destroying Buckingham Palace. But Robert I took the view that if he was going to win, it was only going to be because he had the support of the people, so he didn’t need castles.”
The film aims to depict Robert I’s military genius by highlighting the guerrilla tactics he used to overthrow the superior military force that was Edward I’s English army. One aspect of that involved creating what Pollard calls a “human porcupine” of sorts, with hundreds of men in one big group holding nearly 20-foot-long spears straight out in front of them.
The Scots also had a home turf advantage in terms of navigating the boggy, marshy battlegrounds. “Bruce deliberately picks land where the strength of the English Army can’t be brought into play,” says Pollard. “The English are knights in armor on horses, and Scots were men on foot, who didn’t have much in the way of cavalry.”
Robert’s first victory as king came in May of 1307 at the Battle of Loudoun Hill, close to his longtime family stronghold of Carrick (now part of Ayrshire).
“It’s significant because it means that he’s no longer just a fugitive,” says Broun. “But he’s still only someone who controls a small region of Scotland, his home region, which is not very different from being a noble — except he claims to be king.”
So the most famous and most important battle in Robert the Bruce’s career came even later, after the period of time covered by the film.
It was the Battle of Bannockburn, in June of 1314 that really paved the way for Scottish independence. Edward I had actually died shortly after the battle of Loudoun Hill, but at Bannockburn, Robert I defeated his successor Edward II.
“The Battle of Bannockburn is really the conclusion of the civil war,” says Broun,”[and] shows everyone who isn’t an inveterate opponent of Robert I that he’s in charge, that he can defeat the King of England. The few nobles who are still swithering say, ‘Okay, the reality is Robert I is in charge.’”
Elizabeth de Burgh is said to have been returned to Robert I after the battle as part of a prisoner exchange. Scotland’s independence from England would be official until the two nations signed the Treaty of Edinburgh in March of 1328. Robert I died the following year but Scotland would remain independent until James VI of Scotland inherited the kingdom of England after the death of Elizabeth I in 1603 and became James I of England. Oliver Cromwell conquered Scotland completely in 1650, and the Scottish and English parliaments merged in May of 1707.
And yet Robert the Bruce’s reputation as a national hero endured.
“He was reduced to being a fugitive and yet managed to restore Scotland as a fully-functioning independent kingdom. This makes his achievement even more remarkable,” Broun says. “He had to improvise constantly and had to work really hard to be king, as opposed to being born into it and not having to struggle for it.”
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When Justin Briner was a kid, he never would’ve imagined he’d become the voice of one of anime’s most iconic characters, Izuku Midoriya (affectionately known as “Deku”). Like Deku, Briner came from humble beginnings. “Before I could really even remember, my parents were doing local dinner theater and community theater,” says Briner. “So I was always sort of keyed into that, that world, that community.”
Now, Briner is one of the most recognized voice actors in the West, and it’s all thanks to the phenomenon known as My Hero Academia. FANDOM got a chance to sit down with Briner at Crunchyroll Expo to discuss why he thinks the show resonates with so many people, how he prepped for some of its big moments, and why fans should check out the movie, My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, and the game, My Hero’s One Justice.
Deku’s Struggles Make Him Relatable
Briner’s decision to pursue voice acting was driven by his love of anime and games. “It sort of clicked that all the cartoons and video games I loved so much growing up really influenced me, and my love for the narrative and storytelling, so I tried to dive into that,” says Briner. So, it’s no surprise that the young voice actor was drawn to a character as complex and emotionally raw as Deku.
“What always struck me as riveting about Deku is that he sort of portrays this portrait of mental health growing up,” explains Briner. “He’s struggling with his self-worth. He’s struggling with feelings of inadequacy. People are telling him he’s less than what he dreams he can be.
“And I think, you know, one way or another, we all struggle with those feelings growing up and trying to find our own identity and where we fit into society. And it’s even a little harder for him because everyone around him is what he wants to be. So, I just think that’s a very real sensation, and I try to play that as honestly as I can.”
My Hero Academia’s realistic portrayal of student life and issues might be the reason why the anime has become such a huge hit with fans. Even those who aren’t fans of Deku are sure to find a character with beliefs or struggles similar to their own, such as Todoroki‘s need to break free of his father’s influence or Uraraka‘s desire to help her family. “I do believe [that’s why it resonates with people],” says Briner. “It makes the whole cast very easy to root for, and you can sort of tap into whoever you relate to the most and it’s still going to feel very rewarding.”
Navigating the Show’s Difficult Moments
My Hero Academia has some pretty big moments — and we’re not just talking about epic battles. So, when it comes time to portray these iconic moments, Briner makes sure he’s prepared for these pivotal “stressful” scenes.
“I read ahead,” says Briner. “I read the manga, so I keep up to date. Actors say they don’t like to keep up with the source material sometimes to be surprised, but I don’t have the willpower. So, I keep up with it.
“And pretty consistently, every time there’s been a scene that I’ve read, and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s amazing,’ once it becomes animated, it’s just above and beyond. So, when we reach those moments in the show, I get a little nervous.
“But I have a lot of trust and faith in my director Colleen [Clinkenbeard], who is really great at building up the fight scenes, making them go from point A to point B, and feeling like you have overcome something at the end. So, to just make that feel as real as possible is definitely a challenge.”
Speaking of challenges, Season 3 gave us one of the anime’s most shocking moments: All Might losing his powers after defeating All for One. The emotional scene which saw the world’s number one hero and Symbol of Peace enter retirement marked the end of an era, and Briner did his best tap into the emotion behind that scene.
“There’s a lot of difficult emotions that go into that,” says Briner. “When I saw that scene… you know, I get the luxury of recording to the animation and getting to hear the sound effects and the music swell as I say the line. So that definitely helps a lot with getting into the scene.
“But you know, it’s thoughts of having to step up in that moment and realizing that [the one] you once could depend on so readily, now you have to probably help him and shoulder the burden more on your own, which I think is really touching. So, when that moment happened, I just tried to portray it as honestly as I could. It wasn’t much, not a lot of dialogue. It was more just a couple lines and then crying really. And I really felt that.”
Let’s See More of That Female Cast
Of course, My Hero Academia isn’t the first shōnen anime to give us the feels, big moments, and an ensemble cast with varying personalities and abilities. Shows like Naruto also gave us multiple characters to root for, identify with, mourn, and ship. However, as Naruto continued, the development of its intriguing side characters suffered.
My Hero Academia has, so far, managed to avoid this pitfall, which has led to memorable interactions and battles and unsinkable ships — like KiriBaku (Kirishima and Bakugo), the bromance we all can’t help but love, Briner included. “Yeah, I love their relationship. I think they have such a cool buddy dynamic. I love that they have found each other so instantly — even though Bakugo is sort of begrudging about it. He’s like, ‘Alright, well, he’s fine.’ Yeah, I really love how they interact.”
“I like seeing Todoroki’s growth and how he’s opening up more to the people around him,” Briner continues. “I love seeing Momo Yaoyorozu sort of find her confidence over the last couple of arcs. Oh gosh, I feel like it’s a cop-out. I want to see everyone. I find everyone very compelling.”
However, even with such great character development, there are still characters that Briner feels deserve more screen time. “I think, just as a baseline, there are several people in Deku’s class that I would like to see more of,” explains Briner. “Sort of the folks you see less of, like Mina, the pink girl, and, honestly, let’s say the female cast of the class. I really want to see them get to do a little more.
“I’d like to see more of the other classes. I really like that the author takes the time to explore how the school works and the society works because that makes me more curious about what they get to do every day. So yeah, I just want to see more of everyone interacting really.”
Why Fans Should See My Hero Academia: Two Heroes
The need to see these characters interact is a testament to My Hero Academia author Kohei Horikoshi’s storytelling ability, where even the minor characters, like Neito Monoma, leave a lasting impression. So, it came as no surprise when a movie starring all of our favorite rookie heroes was announced.
My Hero Academia: Two Heroes released in theaters on September 25 and will run through October 2, and Briner insists that fans of the show will enjoy the film. “I think it’s just got something for any sort of fan of the show. If you like the show, what you like about it is represented in the movie in some capacity.
“There’s team-ups. All your favorite characters are there. There’s new adventures, new explorations, in this new area. There’s fights, big crazy fights. So, I just think it’s cool to see the world expanded in this way in this movie, and it’s just a lot of fun to watch.”
Serving Up Wins in My Hero One’s Justice
The movie isn’t the only adaptation the popular anime will receive. There’s also a game, My Hero One’s Justice, set to release in North America and Europe on October 26. The fighting game will include our favorite characters and give players the power to create their own.
Briner, a fighting game fan himself, can’t wait to get his hands on the game to play with his friends. “I’ve been seeing screenshots pop up out of Japan now that the game’s released there, and it looks like it’s just going to be a lot of fun,” says Briner. “Like, it doesn’t take itself seriously enough that, you know, it’s completely serious, and I think that fits the tone of the show.
“You should be able to suit up your hero with ridiculous outfits and everything because that’s sort of the fun and charm of them being rookie heroes.” But Briner makes it clear that, when it comes to fighting games — especially My Hero One’s Justice, he’s no rookie. “I got to play a little of it at San Diego Comic-Con, and I played a round as Deku, and I won. So, I’m 1-0, 100% win rate. I’m trying to keep that streak going.”
Bakugo vs. Deku IRL
Unfortunately, Briner and the rest of the cast didn’t get a chance to do an English track for the game. So, fans won’t get to hear any heated dialogue between Briner and Clifford Chapin (the English voice actor behind Bakugo). However, if you happen to be at a con where the two voice actors appear together, you might catch them acting out their rivalry in real life.
“I think we like to play up our rivalry when we do events like these, which is a lot of fun,” says Briner, “especially if we’re sitting next to each other doing autographs or something. He like vandalizes prints of Deku and stuff like that.”
In true Deku fashion, Briner maintains that he and Chapin are actually friends. “But I don’t think that we’re ever butting heads about anything,” Briner explains. “If anything, I’m just a very big supporter of his work.” Perhaps Deku and Bakugo can become real-life friends after all.
My Hero Academia just wrapped up its third season and was officially renewed for a fourth. It’s currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu.
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