Allure Magazine proclaims: “Gemma Chan Wants to End Whitewashing — In Hollywood and in History Books”
Back in January, I wrote an article criticizing director Josie Rourke’s “colorblind casting” choice in her historical film Mary Queen of Scots. Mary Queen of Scots recounts the sixteenth century struggle between Mary I of Scotland and Queen Elizabeth I over the throne of England. The film is largely historically accurate, depending on the source.
However, several black actors and one actress of Chinese decent appear in prominent roles, particularly Mary Seton (Izuka Hoyle), Lord Randolph (Adrian Lester), Bess of Hardwick (Gemma Chan), Andrew Ker of Fawdonside (Nathan East), and the English Ambassador to Scotland, George Dalgleish (Adrian Derrick-Palmer). Being either English or Scottish in the 1500s, of course, all of these people were pasty white.
Defenders of this peculiar casting choice have strained logic past the point of credulity, and once again, writers like Allure’s Jessica Chia have fallen back on that tired cliche “Internet trolls” to dismiss criticism of Gemma Chan’s role as Bess of Hardwick in Mary Queen of Scots.
“Why are actors of color, who have fewer opportunities anyway, only allowed to play their own race?” Chan asked. “In the past, the role would be given to a white actor who would tape up their eyes and do the role in yellowface. John Wayne played Genghis Khan. If John Wayne can play Genghis Khan, I can play Bess of Hardwick.”Continue reading “Actress Gemma Chan Responds to Criticism Over Her Role in Mary Queen of Scots”
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A detachment of American riflemen turn back the last British attack on Buffalo is this little-known War of 1812 skirmish.
The Battle of Scajaquada Creek Bridge (also known as Conjockety Creek) was fought on August 3, 1814 between British forces commanded by Lt. Col. John Tucker and American forces commanded by Major Ludowick Morgan in modern-day Buffalo, New York during the War of 1812. The battle was an American victory, ending British raids over the Niagara River and saving the American soldiers holed up in Fort Erie.
After the bloody Battle of Lundy’s Lane on July 25, 1814 on the western shore of the Niagara River, the American Army withdrew to recently-captured Fort Erie to lick its wounds. The British, under the command of Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond, pursued and laid siege to the fort. The Americans received supplies from Black Rock and Buffalo by boat, so Lt. Gen. Drummond ordered Lt. Col. John “Brigadier Shindy” Tucker to take 600 men, raid the villages, and burn military supplies, as the British had successfully done in December 1813.
To reach those military store houses, Tucker had to cross the Niagara River and Unity Island, then Conjockety Creek. Scouts warned Major Ludowick Morgan of the British approach, and he ordered his men to tear up planks on the Conjockety Creek bridge. His 240 militiamen found cover on the southern shore and waited for the British to appear. The British, armed with smoothbore muskets, were no match for the American riflemen.
The British attempted to repair the bridge under fire, but this proved futile. Tucker then sent a detachment up stream to try to force a crossing at a different point, but they were met by steady and accurate fire from the defenders. After a frustrating hour of fighting, the British withdrew having lost approximately 12 killed and 17 wounded to the Americans’ two killed and eight wounded. Supplies continued flowing to Fort Erie, and the British eventually broke off the siege after heavy losses.
Swan Street Diner, at reet in Buffalo, New York, is a 1937 Sterling Company diner car, #397. It was originally located in Newark, New York, and successively known as Scofield’s Diner, the Newark Diner, and McBride’s Newark Diner, owned by Paul Scolfield, John Reynolds, and Jim McBride respectively. Scolfield also ran an automotive garage. The diner moved to Ohio in 2013, then to Buffalo, New York for restoration.
The new owners have done an incredible job restoring this historic diner. It sits in Buffalo’s Larkinville neighborhood, once home to the Larkin Soap Company (closed in 2013). The Swan Street Diner serves food and drinks on the last plates and mugs manufactured by the company. It opened in October 2017 and is a wonderful and unique diner experience.
Though historically inaccurate, this film effectively tackles issues of censorship and the limits of free expression.
Directed by Philip Kaufman, Quills (2000) is based on a play of the same name by Doug Wright. It is a quasi-historical movie about the infamous writer Marquis de Sade and his internment in Charenton asylum in post-revolutionary France. Though not financially successful, its performances, costumes, and sets won praise from critics and audiences alike.
At the Charenton Asylum, the Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush) has been under the care of Abbe Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix), a liberal clergyman who encourages De Sade to write and produce plays, which are performed by the inmates at the asylum. Unbeknownst to him, De Sade has been sneaking out his manuscripts for publication with the help of laundress Madeleine (Kate Winslet). Scandalized, Emperor Napoleon orders Doctor Royer-Collard (Michael Caine) to take over Charenton and reform its notorious inmate.
A battle of wills ensues between De Sade and Royer-Collard, with Abbe Coulmier and Madeleine caught in the middle. The more Royer-Collard tries to break De Sade, the more defiant and outlandish De Sade becomes. The inmate is determined to expose Royer-Collard’s hypocrisy, centered around his marriage to his much younger wife, Simone (Amelia Warner). Can Abbe Coulmier save De Sade’s soul (and his own) before it’s too late?
Quills is first and foremost an exploration of censorship and free expression. Are De Sade’s provocative stories harmless entertainment, or genuinely subversive and dangerous? Is De Sade a raving lunatic, or a martyr to the cause of free speech? It asks the audience to actively engage with the ethical and moral questions played out on screen.Continue reading “Quills: A Poignant Civil Rights Allegory”