The Promise, Hollywood’s first blockbuster about the Armenian genocide, hits theaters this weekend. The film deserves applause in spite of critics’ poor reviews. Check out this interview on Rising Up with Sonali to hear more about the controversy surrounding the film, what it does well and where it falls short.
If you’re in the LA area (and have a radio!), this interview will air on KPFK, 90.7 FM, on Monday, April 24, which is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, between 8–9 AM.
I’ve made my debut as the Film Critic and Pop Culture Correspondent on Rising Up with Sonali! We discussed the colonial and racist past — and present — of The Jungle Book. You can see the video here. If you’re in the LA area, the radio interview will be aired on KPFK 90.7 FM on Monday 4/18 at 8:20 AM, and online at kpfk.org.
Check out my review published today by the feminist pop culture magazine Bitch. Also in its entirety below:
In 2011, The New York Times described reporter Kim Barker’s war memoir, The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as “hilarious and harrowing, witty and illuminating” and wrote that Barker “depicts herself as sort of a Tina Fey character.” Within weeks, Fey bought the book’s film rights. Fey wanted to play a strong character who excelled in a male-dominated field, to show that women can back each other in the workplace, and dedicate the work to her father, a veteran and journalist, who passed away last year. The result is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
The film’s trailers present the movie as a comedy a la Sisters, and although it has been dubbed a “feminist comedy,” it’s more of a dramedy with a little rom-com thrown in. While the film accomplishes Fey’s aforementioned goals, in doing so it champions a white, middle-class American feminism that sees Western women as free and other women, in this case Afghan women, as oppressed. This Orientalist storyline is not only problematic and unoriginal, it’s also dangerous as it continues to be used to justify U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places throughout South, Central and West Asia. (more…)
My latest essay, New Documentary “Equal Means Equal” Exposes Why We Need an Equal Rights Amendment,” was published today in honor of International Women’s Day, by Bitch. Here’s the full text: (more…)
To read the article on Bitch, click here.
NEW FILM “MUSTANG” EXPLORES YOUNG WOMEN’S VITALITY—AND PATRIARCHY’S BRUTALITY
by Stephanie Abraham
The beautiful and challenging new film Mustang looks at the lengths that people will go to crush female independence and sexuality, and the varied responses young women can have in the face of strangling sexism and male domination. It’s notable that the film, which takes place in Turkey with a Turkish cast, is France’s official entry to the Academy Awards—the director, Deniz Gamze Ergüven, is Turkish and French.
Mustang’s story is told through the eyes of Lale (Günes Sensoy), the youngest of five orphaned sisters who are being raised by their grandmother in a small Turkish town. Lale is only nine years old, but is wise enough to see injustice and sassy enough to renounce it. The film opens with her as narrator saying, “It’s like everything changed in the blink of an eye. One moment we were fine, then everything turned to shit.” (more…)
As an Arab American with a background in media criticism, I often feel like a broken record, calling out the endless stereotypes of Arabs in U.S. popular culture. I long for transgressive representations, those that break the mold and offer audiences thought-provoking stories about humanity. When I find them, I exclaim, “Alhamdulillah!”—an Arabic expression that literally means, “Praise be to God,” but culturally translates as: “Hell, yeah!” The independent film Detroit Unleaded deserves such a shout-out.