Critiques of Recent Media by Prof. Diana Mafe
As a cultural critic and researcher on representations of race and gender in speculative fiction and video games, Associate Professor Diana Mafe offers much-needed insight into popular culture.
In her review of “Wrinkle In Time,” Mafe notes: “A Wrinkle in Time tries too hard. The film wants to be spectacular. Even epic. In this it fails, despite a strong cast, impressive cinematography, a haunting soundtrack (with an original song by Sade), and the creative vision of Ava DuVernay, the first black woman to direct a Hollywood picture with a budget of over $100 million. The film is too rushed and too slow all at the same time, which might just be appropriate given the title. Scenes that should be whimsical are strained. Dialogue that should be funny or profound tends to fall flat.
“But the film still delivers in important ways. Like the Madeleine L’Engle novel on which it is based, this Disney movie is for children first. “
In her review of “Star Trek: Discovery,” she notes:
“Michael Burnham, the hero of Star Trek: Discovery, is intelligent, attractive, and capable. Burnham has book smarts, athleticism, and an unwavering moral compass. In case our hero seems too one-dimensional, the show also throws in complexity. Burnham is a human raised by Vulcans, a Starfleet officer serving a life sentence, and yes, a black woman.
“If Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) on the original Star Trek was limited to the bridge, minimal dialogue, and a miniskirt, then Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) fulfills the untapped potential of her famous predecessor. The plot revolves around this new black female hero, who proves to be a worthwhile Star Trek protagonist—one who travels the galaxies, makes tough (sometimes bad) decisions, fights to survive, falls in love, and seeks redemption. She is imperfect, but that is surely part of the point.”
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