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Captain Marvel: franchise’s future is more exciting than its present

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About halfway through Captain Marvel, I found myself wondering what all the fuss was about.

The latest film addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe stars Brie Larson as (spoilers follow!) Vers, an alien fighter who crash-lands on Earth in 1995 and learns about her previous life as human pilot Carol Danvers while fighting a variety of bad guys. It has been controversial since before it opened, largely because Larson said in an interview last month that she wanted to make her press days more inclusive of nonwhite, non-male journalists. This caused a furor among men’s rights activists, “incels,” and other internet misogynists, who claimed that Larson hated men and was ruining Marvel.

But when I sat down to watch Captain Marvel on Thursday night, I soon found that the film in the midst of all this controversy was far from a feminist manifesto. While it does center on powerful female characters (who routinely talk to one another about subjects other than men), the film’s feminism is nothing you can’t find on a T-shirt in 2019.

The writers missed some opportunities to show the misogyny Carol and her friend and fellow pilot Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) would have faced as female pilots in the 1980s, and most of Carol’s struggles against sexism are rendered in quick, unremarkable flashbacks. Ultimately, Captain Marvel is a perfectly serviceable superhero movie with some light gender politics thrown in for good measure.

As an ongoing franchise, though, the Captain Marvel story has the potential to be more. Larson has shown that she’s willing to use her power as a star to shake up the way the media covers superhero movies, and with Marvel behind her, she’s likely to keep using that influence in the future. Meanwhile, the addition of Captain Marvel into the Marvel filmic universe creates a wealth of new opportunities, from the potential for a lesbian love story to the possibility of a new generation of female heroes, perhaps more boundary-breaking than the first. In the end, Captain Marvel is less interesting on its own than for what it sets up: the potential for a blockbuster franchise with women at its core.

Captain Marvel has been controversial, but it’s pretty standard superhero fare

Much of the controversy around Captain Marvel stems from a February Marie Claire interview with Larson conducted by journalist Keah Brown. Brown is a frequent commentator on disability issues who created the hashtag #DisabledAndCute in 2017; she is also a woman of color. She and Larson began following each other on Twitter in 2017, she writes, and Larson specifically requested her for the Marie Claire interview.

“About a year ago,” Larson explained, “I started paying attention to what my press days looked like and the critics reviewing movies, and noticed it appeared to be overwhelmingly white male.”

Larson said she mentioned the issue to Stacy Smith, founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, a think tank that studies diversity and inclusion in entertainment. Research by the initiative confirmed that the majority of film critics were white men. “Moving forward, I decided to make sure my press days were more inclusive,” Larson told Brown.

What might sound to most like a relatively small example of a star using her influence to improve representation in media apparently read as a crisis to a certain subset of men on the internet. As Melissa Leon reports at the Daily Beast, men’s rights activists began posting YouTube videos calling Larson a “loudmouth blonde-haired narcissist” and accusing her of “ruining Marvel.” Some pledged to boycott Captain Marvel and see the film Alita: Battle Angel instead. Actor James Woods also got in on the action, for some reason:

It’s not the first time a film has faced backlash for casting women or people of color in starring roles — both The Last Jedi and the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot inspired angry responses from fans of earlier movies who didn’t like the idea of their faves diversifying.

In addition to pushback, Captain Marvel is also getting praise — Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins tweeted support for the film, and there’s at least one crowdfunding campaign to help young girls see it.

Given all the controversy, the movie itself is a relatively quiet affair. Vers, a fighter for the alien Kree race who is learning to use her superpowers under the tutelage of Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), finds herself on Earth. There, she discovers she was born a human, used to fly fighter planes under the mentorship of the mysterious Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening), and was best friends with fellow pilot Maria, before losing her memory and starting a new life among the Kree.

As Vers/Carol, Larson is somewhat blank — perhaps purposely so, as Sean Fennessey notes at the Ringer, since she has no memory of her past. But as a result, it can be hard to invest much in the character — a woman at the center of a big-budget superhero movie is an exciting prospect, but my excitement waned a bit when the woman herself couldn’t hold my attention.

The film also does less than it might with Carol’s backstory. We learn via flashback that Carol has experienced sexism in the past, both from her father during her childhood and, later, from her fellow recruits as a pilot in training at boot camp. But the scenes are brief and their emotional impact muted. We don’t see much of what it was like for Carol and Maria trying to become fighter pilots in the male-dominated Air Force of the 1980s. And though it’s a treat to see Bening as Dr. Lawson — a role that, without giving too much away, is more than meets the eye — she isn’t actually given very much to do.

There’s one cheer-worthy moment in Captain Marvel, when Yon-Rogg (who, spoiler, is actually bad) tries to mansplain Carol’s powers to her and she proclaims, “I have nothing to prove to you.” But overall, Captain Marvel is a reasonably fun superhero movie whose feminist clout and emotional impact are blunted by its dull approach to its main character.

The franchise has the potential to be more than business as usual

But while the present of Captain Marvel might be underwhelming, its future is potentially bright. Part of the reason is Larson herself. She may not quite have been able to accomplish the difficult feat of making an amnesiac character compelling, but her interview with Brown and her larger commitment to inclusivity in press appearances shows she’s willing to use her position at the head of a franchise to advocate for change. Insisting on a representative sample of journalists at interview opportunities may be a relatively small step, but it matters — especially since, given the fevered backlash, some Marvel fans obviously have a long way to go when it comes to accepting the voices of women and people of color.

It wasn’t the first time Larson had been willing to take a public stand — in 2017, after presenting an Oscar to Casey Affleck, who has been the subject of sexual harassment allegations, Larson stood aside and refrained from clapping for him. Larson later confirmed that she meant her lack of applause as an intentional statement, telling Vanity Fair, “I think that whatever it was that I did onstage kind of spoke for itself.”

As Leon notes at the Daily Beast, Larson, who was 26 when she was cast, was initially criticized as too young to play the role of Captain Marvel, who in her 2012 comic book series appeared to be in her 30s. But as a young actress, she has a long career ahead of her, and we can expect her to continue speaking up — or, sometimes, keeping pointedly silent — through the promotional cycles of many more movies to come, starting with Avengers: Endgame later this year.

Meanwhile, the story of Captain Marvel and her friends offers intriguing future possibilities. As many have mentioned, there’s no romance in Captain Marvel — it’s actually one of the more groundbreaking things about the movie.

But as Vox’s Alex Abad-Santos points out, Carol’s relationship with Maria is “full of lesbian subtext.” In the comics, Captain Marvel has a relationship with a man, James “War Machine” Rhodes. But director Anna Boden has hinted that Carol could have a female love interest in the future, telling USA Today that “one day, I hope Captain Marvel finds somebody that is a good support for her, be that male or female.”

Marvel production chief Victoria Alonso told Variety at the Los Angeles premiere of the film that “the world is ready” for a gay Marvel superhero. To be clear, she was addressing rumors that the lead superhero in the upcoming Eternals film might be gay, marking the first gay lead character in a Marvel movie. But the possibility certainly seems open for the Captain Marvel franchise too.

The movie also shows the budding friendship between Carol and Maria’s daughter Monica (Akira Akbar), who helps Carol reconstruct some of her memories and even designs her Captain Marvel costume. Eleven-year-old Monica, raised by single mother Maria, is portrayed as a brave little girl — when her mother hesitates over joining Carol on a dangerous mission, she insists that Maria go rather than sitting on the couch with her, “watching Fresh Prince.”

“I just think you should consider what kind of example you’re setting for your daughter,” she says cheekily.

Monica is an important character we’re likely to see again — in the comic books, she becomes a superhero in her own right who at one point takes the title Captain Marvel herself. By giving us a glimpse of her childhood, Captain Marvel shows us the potential future not just of the franchise but of female superheroes more generally — raised by and among powerful women, Monica is not burdened by the kind of sexism Maria and Carol have to deal with. Her story has the potential to be not a response to men’s treatment in the way that Carol’s sometimes is, but something profoundly unique and her own.

One of the strengths of Wonder Woman was its vision of an all-female society with its own values, structure, and norms of peace and war. Captain Marvel offers nothing that groundbreaking — this time around. But in Monica and her family, it offers the promise of something like it in the future — a female hero who, thanks to the women who have gone before her, has the freedom to live not in reaction to men but on her own terms.

It’s become commonplace today to complain about the seemingly never-ending parade of franchise superhero films. But such franchises do give characters and actors something a single movie can’t always offer — room to grow. Captain Marvel looks poised to make good use of it.

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20 Awkward Cats Who Fall Asleep in Crazy Ways

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Cats have mastered the art of sleeping, which is not surprising since they spend most of their day asleep. The thing that surprises us is the law of physics-defying positions they fall asleep in. They often leave us amazed or even a little freaked out, but they’re comfortable so we shouldn’t complain. They make for some of the funniest pictures after all!

Bright Side wants to show you 20 pictures of some furry knots that truly amazed us. Also, we have a little puzzle for you in the last picture!

20. When you don’t have a blanket, so you need to cover yourself with your own legs

19. In the newest cat bed, you can roll around while sleeping.

18. Pocket kitten taking a little nap

17. Who needs cat beds anyway?

16. When you’re so tired that you can’t even make it to bed:

15. As if we needed more proof that cats defy the laws of physics…

14. Not sure if the cat is dreaming of sunbathing or flying.

13. This cat read about a sleeping position called “the snail”.

12. Someone had an exhausting day at work.

11. A cat’s mission is to find every spot suitable for sleeping.

10. We can tell that this cat is very comfortable.

9. A fur spiral

8. Another cat that doesn’t need a blanket to cover itself!

7. Enjoying the sunshine

6. When your nap is so good, you start melting:

5. Always be camouflaged, even when you’re sleeping.

4. When you don’t exactly fit, but it doesn’t stop you from taking a nap:

3. We think this cat is dreaming of flying like Superman.

2. Bones are overrated anyway.

1. Here’s your puzzle! How long did it take you to find its head?

Cats are adorable when they sleep and they never fail to amaze us with their quirkiness! Have your cats fallen asleep in strange positions? We need to see them! So please, make our day and everyone else’s by showing us!

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Bernie Sanders’s reparations comments could hurt DSA 2020 endorsement

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Sen. Bernie Sanders’s refusal to give a full-throated endorsement of reparations is throwing a wrench into his long-expected endorsement from the Democratic Socialists of America.

The DSA’s AfroSocialist and Socialists of Color Caucus, a section within the organization focused on race and people of color, is asking the DSA’s national political committee to withhold its endorsement of Sanders’s presidential campaign over his stance on reparations. The independent Vermont senator has declined to back reparations for the descendants of slaves in the United States, arguing that broader anti-poverty programs will help address inequality and that it’s not clear what the term means.

DSA’s members already voted 76 percent to 24 percent to endorse Sanders in a poll conducted by the organization’s leadership earlier this month. The 16-member national political committee is set to vote on the endorsement on Thursday evening. The AfroSocialist and Socialists of Color Caucus is pushing for them to withhold that endorsement.

The caucus laid out its reasoning in an open letter to the political committee and explained that while they believe Sanders has advanced in his stance on race, “there is still a disconnect in his approach to economic issues often failing to comprehend how race and class are intertwined.”

“Should the organization move forward with an endorsement of the Sanders campaign, despite his failure to adopt specific policy stances to address matters of persisting racial injustice and despite his unwillingness to champion reparations to specifically address the experience of the descendants of African slaves, it will risk alienating not just members of color within the organization, but people of color in the communities in which the DSA works,” the letter reads. “We ask that the DSA withholds endorsement of the Bernie Sanders campaign for the presidency until Sanders finally acknowledges the validity of black demands for reparations in America.”

Democratic Socialists of America, which claims to be the largest socialist organization in the US and has gained significantly in prominence in recent years. (Jeff Stein laid out for Vox in 2017 what DSA is all about.) It has more than 50,000 members nationwide.

The letter has caused some internal consternation within DSA, which has been criticized for being a heavily white and male organization.

“There is a lot of really frustrated white comrades right now and comrades of color, to be quite honest, about how this is a stupid strategy, and what’s going on, but I think their hearts are in the right place,” Bianca Cunningham, co-chair of New York City’s DSA chapter, told me. “Sometimes, having these discussions is uncomfortable, and it means you even have to challenge comrades who you see as allies.”

What Sanders has said about reparations

Reparations has become a topic of conversation in the 2020 Democratic primary, and multiple candidates — including Sanders — have been asked to weigh in.

It’s worth noting that reparations polls poorly among the general public, but is more popular with younger voters and voters of color — prime parts of the Democratic base. It has thus gained credence among those on the left as the Democratic Party becomes more aware of and responsive to issues like the racial wealth gap. Black voters make up about 25 percent of Democratic primary voters, a constituency Sanders struggled with somewhat in 2016 but one with which he has been gaining support more recently.

At a CNN town hall event with journalist Wolf Blitzer in February, Sanders was asked about reparations. He said that there are “massive disparities that must be addressed” but did not come out in favor of reparations. Sanders pointed to legislation he likes, including Rep. Jim Clyburn’s (D-SC) 10/20/30 anti-poverty program, which he has endorsed. It calls for more federal resources to be sent to communities with high, sustained levels of poverty.

Sanders said we have to do “everything that we can do end institutional racism in this country” and “put resources into distressed communities and improve lives for those people who have been hurt from the legacy of slavery.” But he wouldn’t come out in favor of reparations, and he said it’s not clear what the term even means.

“But what does they mean? What do they mean?” he said. “I’m not sure that anyone’s very clear. What I’ve just said is that I think we must do everything that we can to address the massive level of disparity that exists in this country.”

The DSA caucus calling for the organization to withhold its endorsement cited Sanders’s comments at the CNN town hall. They said he appeared “defensive” and “the dismissive nature of the response effectively shut down the opportunity for meaningful conversation on this issue.”

Sanders was also asked about reparations in a subsequent appearance on the talk show The View and again declined to back them. “I think that right now, our job is to address the crises facing the American people and our communities, and I think there are better ways to do that than just writing out a check,” he said.

That Sanders is not supportive of reparations is not a surprise — he did not support them in 2016 either, claiming they were “divisive” and nearly impossible to get through Congress. (President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did not support reparations, either.) More broadly, Sanders has struggled with his messaging on race. In 2015, Black Lives Matter activists disrupted one of his speeches.

A Sanders spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the DSA’s reparations debate.

Reparations have become an important issue in the 2020 primary

The issue of reparations has become a notable topic of conversation among 2020 Democrats.

Vox’s P.R. Lockhart recently delved into the debate and what candidates have said about it. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), for example, have expressed some level of support for reparations, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is running on a proposed “baby bonds” program that would help close the racial wealth gap.

But as Lockhart notes, the issue — and the discussion around it — isn’t clear-cut:

Some candidates have also noted that reparations — the process of apologizing and providing restitution to those harmed by slavery and its legacy — would serve as payment for a debt America has yet to truly acknowledge 150 years after emancipation.

But they’ve stopped short of actually calling for reparations programs. Instead, experts say that some candidates have muddied the waters by framing universal programs that would help black communities as a form of reparations — which they aren’t.

The discussion has touched on a longstanding debate about what the United States owes to the descendants of enslaved men and women — a population that has been systematically denied wealth and opportunity in a country built with the stolen labor of their ancestors.

Sanders’s approach to racial issues has historically been centered on economic inequality and the idea that communities of color would benefit most from his proposals such as Medicare-for-all and free education. Nelini Stamp, who heads strategy and partnerships for the Working Families Party and supports reparations, in a recent interview told me that’s not enough.

“Similar to having capitalism be a bad word, we need reparations to be a good word,” she said.

Stamp added that people who back Sanders should pressure him on the issue as well. “There should be actual outrage from Bernie’s strongest supporters about his reparations comments,” she said.

Sanders will probably still get the DSA’s endorsement

It’s not clear what, if any, effect the DSA AfroSocialist and Socialists of Color Caucus’s letter will have on the organization’s decision on backing Sanders. Its membership appears to overwhelmingly support the move, though there has been some debate about whether it’s the right move.

The national political committee is set to debate and vote on the endorsement on Thursday at 9 pm.

Beyond this vote, the discussion about reparations and, more broadly, race, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, in the context of the Sanders campaign or among democratic socialists more broadly.

“I don’t think the problem is that they’re pushing for this, I think the problem is the way that people receive it,” Cunningham, from New York’s DSA, said of the AfroSocialist and Socialists of Color Caucus’s letter. “And so, we hear some people saying, ‘This is going to tear apart the organization.’ Well, it doesn’t have to. You can receive this in good faith and really engage in this in a good faith way.”


The news moves fast. Catch up at the end of the day: Subscribe to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast, or sign up for our evening email newsletter, Vox Sentences.

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#MBCTrending – بمناسبة افتتاح الاولمبياد في أبو ظبي.. نجوم العرب والعالم بأوبريت غنائي

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بمناسبة افتتاح الاولمبياد في أبو ظبي.. نجوم العرب والعالم بأوبريت غنائي
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؟ لأن الازدحام ليس فقط في الشوارع، إنما في كل ما تتلقاه في “السوشيال ميديا” عبر هاتفك الذي لا يفارق يدك . زحام في المعلومات، الصور، الفيديوهات، الملابس، المطاعم، الأفكار، السيارات والمشاهير الذين لا تنتهي يومياتهم بكل ما هو مثير.
نحن نختصر كل ذلك في برنامج واحد يقوم بتلخيص كل ما هو جديد، وإيصاله إليك بدون ازدحام . ابق أمام شاشة MBC4 وانتظر الساخن في تمام الساعة 8 مساء بتوقيت السعودية .

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