There’s something sexy about a dead-serious man willing to do anything to get the job done. The Batmans and Liam Neesons of the world, men who ruthlessly cut through criminal organizations while brooding about the atrocities they’ve been forced to commit. Even the supposedly goody-two-shoes Superman now scowls as he struts out of exploded court houses filled with charred corpses and jars of pee. Is any of this sexiness getting you hot and bothered yet? Too bothered?
They are almost never seen eating, but always drink. If they’re in bed, they’re having nightmares about those they’ve lost (or, you know, having sex). They are emotionally cold and distant when they’re not being glib. This is all done in the name of emotional complexity, but can we still call it that when every character is the same?
For example, why does Hollywood refuse to accept Superman as simply a morally sound hero who genuinely wants to help people? Struggling to protect those weaker than him is a perfectly legitimate problem. Did they think we couldn’t relate to him unless he cried in an ice cave like he’s in an Evanescence music video? Did they think he’d look like a “pussy” if he didn’t destroy an entire city and snap Zod’s neck in front of two children?
Hollywood loves a good fake death almost as much as it loves teal and orange. You’ve probably seen a spy/action movie where someone takes some kind of chemical that lowers their pulse until it’s barely detectable, thus fooling doctors into pronouncing them dead. This goes at leastall the way back to Shakespeare, who had Juliet take a handy fake-death potion so she could get out of her little family pickle.
Somewhat more recently, this trope can be found in films like (spoilers!) Captain America: The Winter Soldier and shows of varying degrees of verisimilitude, like Miami Vice, 24, Chuck, and Alias. All of these examples specifically mention a real chemical called tetrodotoxin – aka, the bad stuff found in pufferfish, and the whole reason you need a specially trained chef to prepare the dish. According to movies and TV, the right amount of tetrodotoxin can slow down your heartbeat and put you in a death-like state for hours or even days; just long enough to let you freak the hell out of everyone attending your funeral.
As you might have gathered from the fact that people aren’t pulling that prank all the time, there is no drug that will let you fake your death. If you take tetrodotoxin at a low enough dose, you just get a tingling or analgesic effect. If you take more than that, at best you’ll end up in a deep coma, but it ain’t fooling any modern doctors … which is a good thing, because you’ll need their assistance to survive in that state. It’s not like this thing can magically make it so you don’t need to eat or breathe for days.
Riz Ahmed’s first big break also happened to be his first blacklisting. In 2006, his satirical song “Post 9/11 Blues,” released under his rap moniker Riz MC (sample lyric: “Post 9/11 I been getting paid / Playing terrorists on telly, getting songs made”), was swiftly banned from the radio by the British government.
It took him a decade to elbow his way into Hollywood, going from vaguely familiar face to leading man in the course of one dizzying year with 2016’s Jason Bourne, The Night Of, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. But at no point did Ahmed hold back on getting out his message about being brown in the Western world.
In 2014, he wrote and directed the short film Daytimer, which draws from his own experience “code-switching between a traditional Pakistani household, a predominantly white upper-middle-class private school where I was on scholarship, and cutting class to go hang out on the streets.” “But I’m not here on some kind of tribalism trip,” he adds. “That’s what got us into this mess.”
He loves looking out into the crowd at one of his concerts and seeing “girls in hijabs moshing out with white hipster dudes and gay Latinos.” Being typecast can be frustrating, but great things can come out of every challenge. “When there isn’t a paved sidewalk for you to walk on, it’s hitting the bushes with a machete in your hand and trying to slash out a path.” And the path of most resistance turns out to be a hell of a lot more interesting.
There are more evil politicians in movies than there are lower back tattoos at a Saliva concert. And yet none of them ever seem to be the president. Seriously, every movie with a shady politician somehow manages to limit their offices to senators and congressmen, with the occasional CIA director thrown in to keep things spicy. Operation Treadstone is always created and run without the president’s knowledge or involvement.
Movies like Iron Man 3, X-Men, the Star Wars prequels, Bob Roberts, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, The American President, and others revolve primarily around conspiratorial senators, vice presidents, and the like abusing their power. But why? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have an evil president? After all, isn’t that a scarier proposition?