Bleats

'Black Widow' Continues Marvel's Tradition Of Uncomfortable Fat Jokes

Moving on from Bro Thor to Red Guardian.

So Marvel have dropped the first trailer for Black Widow upon us and look, it’s looking like a hell of a ride. You’ve got Scarlett Johansson back from the dead as Natasha Romanoff (the film is set before Endgame), a very gritty spy vibe we haven’t really seen before in the MCU (Winter Soldier barely counts) and a bunch of new characters played by great actors like David Harbour, Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz.

But for all the positives that are on display in the two or so minutes of Black Widow footage, the trailer unfortunately highlights a problematic aspect that Marvel has been wrestling with for years: unsavoury fat jokes for its male characters.

In the trailer, we’re introduced to David Harbour’s Alexei Shostakov (aka Red Guardian, Russia’s version of Captain America), who is a bit larger than the usual chiseled Marvel hero we’re used to seeing.

But rather than let critiques of the character’s physique remain unspoken, the Black Widow trailer contains two slightly unsavoury jokes about how fat he is. The first one references how he “still fits” his Red Guardian suit despite his weight gain and the second involves Rachel Weisz straight up telling him he’s fat.

Marvel has a history of making problematic fat jokes – Bro Thor being the big one that comes to mind. But whereas Bro Thor’s physical transformation was tied in to his emotional journey (albeit in messy fashion), there’s no hint that this’ll be the case for David Harbour’s Alexei. Thor was a main character whereas Alexei is there in service of Black Widow’s story.

Body positivity is one thing but it all feels pretty mean-spirited here as it’s clear Alexei’s weight is the butt of the joke. It’s clear Marvel still has a bit of work to do when it comes to body positive characters, particularly with its male heroes.

But hey, perhaps we’re judging the fat jokes in Black Widow a bit too early. After all, Marvel are known to keep its cards close to its chest and no one really knows what Scarlett Johansson is up to in her long-awaited solo flick.

We’ll just have to see whether David Harbour’s Red Guardian gets to display some emotional growth that’s tied to his heavier physique or whether it’s nothing more than a one-off gag when the film comes out in 2020.

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TV Shows Benefit More From A Weekly Release Rather Than A Single Dump

It's called television for a reason.

Let me preface this whole thing by saying that I love a good Netflix binge as much as the next popcorn munching, content devourer and there’s no real right or wrong way to release a TV show for audiences. But as good as that model has been, TV shows arguably stand to benefit more on a weekly release model than the one-time dump.

Just hear me out first.

Now the one thing that the Netflix binging model has got going for it is the lack of waiting between episodes. Sometimes the weekly wait between TV show installments can be too much and the one-and-done model gets rid of any waiting.

However, this carries the double-edged sword of losing fanfare incredibly quickly. There’s a lot of build-up for popular TV shows like Stranger Things and The Crown, but almost all of the buzz disappears once the latest season has dropped.

By contrast, TV shows on a weekly release schedule feel like more of an event. You’ve spent an entire week dissecting, discussing and chatting about what unfolded, there’s more time for people to cobble together well thought out think pieces, and you’re more confident in knowing that everyone else is at roughly the same point of the show as opposed to something on Netflix.

Had something like Watchmen or The Mandalorian been released all at once, it’s more than likely that those shows would’ve dropped off the radar as opposed to remaining in the conversation every week.

Put it another way, it’s unlikely Baby Yoda and all those associated memes would’ve had such a large impact had we got all the Mandalorian episodes at once.

But arguably the biggest benefit of the weekly release model is how it helps the longevity of a show. There’s a lot of hype between seasons of Stranger Things, but this would be amplified by many times if it were a weekly show due to the culmination of the week-by-week anticipation.

It’s one of the reasons why TV shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones felt so big when they were still going and remain in the pop-culture sphere, and why The Mandalorian and Watchmen are shaping up to be the same as opposed to a lot of what’s on Netflix. They give us just enough to keep us wanting but not so much that we’re overwhelmed.

With both the weekly release and binging models having their respective pros and cons, perhaps this could give rise to some sort of in-between model where a couple of episodes of a TV show is released weekly. Binging a show is great and all, but sometimes a slower pace is better.

Never Forget When Mr Rogers Had A Beef With The KKK

Don't mess with Mr Rogers.

Fred Rogers – aka Mr Rogers – is revered as the nicest chap to have ever walked this green(ish) earth, so much so that the only person who is even remotely qualified to portray him in a biopic is the second nicest guy ever, Tom Hanks.

The thing with being a walking beacon of positivity is that your “niceness” may be taken advantage of by unscrupulous folks and that’s exactly what happened to Mr Rogers back in the early 1990s courtesy of the KKK (ugh).

Back in the late 80s and early 90s in the red-state of Missouri, the KKK were still a thing (sadly) and they thought the best way to spread their hateful rhetoric was to impersonate Mr Rogers over the phone and circulating the number among children. It must be incredibly jarring for unsuspecting kids to hear the reassuring voice of Mr Rogers sprouting hateful nonsense over the phone.

This impersonation schtick from the KKK ultimately caught wind among civil rights and religious groups and soon the real Mr Rogers found out about it and decided to take legal action against fraudsters.

It was always going to end badly for the KKK but since those idiots used actual recordings from Mr Rogers’ show, a copyright infringement claim was a guaranteed slam dunk against the Klan. According to The Los Angeles Times, a judge ruled against the KKK and the men responsible agreed to destroy all the recordings.

Now we don’t know what happened to the three men behind this scheme after the judge ruled against them, other than them claiming not to be Klansmen. Sure Jan.

It would be easy to wish ill upon these dudes, especially since they’re KKK, but Mr Rogers wouldn’t have liked that so we like to assume that he appealed to them to toss away the white robes and convinced them to be better.

If there was to be a second movie about Mr Rogers starring Tom Hanks, this little beef would be a good place to start in terms of material.

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