BALTIMORE (AP) — Makayla Gilliam-Price is a 17-year-old high school senior applying to colleges. She’s also an activist bent on dismantling racism, on making Baltimore a place where Black kids have an equal shot at safety, at an education, at the future.And already, Gilliam-Price has found her voice.She found it at debate camp a couple of years before Freddie Gray suffered a fatal neck injury in police custody in April 2015, before national media trained klieg lights on her city.“She was just a 15-year-old girl trying to figure things out,” said Adam Jackson, who coached her at that debate camp and who continues to mentor her through his work at the Baltimore group Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle. “Now she’s on a steady rise to be a world-class leader.”Gilliam-Price believed the Black Lives Matter movement that grew out of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, had to be about more than fighting police brutality. It had to be about fighting racism on other fronts, including segregated schools, academic tracking that kept black kids and poor kids from taking advanced classes, and immigration raids that made Latino students afraid to go to school.“Saying Black lives matter isn’t just about a Black man being shot by a White police officer,” Gilliam-Price said.She co-founded a grass-roots student organization, City Bloc; led a high school walkout to protest a proposal to arm school police; and helped organize rallies for police reform in Annapolis.Six months after Gray’s death, she was among a group arrested during an October sit-in at Baltimore’s City Hall, a protest against police officers’ use of force and lack of community voice in the hiring of a new police commissioner. Her activism has been covered in the pages of the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore City Paper and the Nation.Recently, a high-ranking Baltimore police officer and police union vice president was removed from his post and transferred to overnight security after Gilliam-Price wrote a blog post calling attention to tweets of his that she said showed “deeply entrenched racism” within the police department.She wasn’t interested in taking the individual officer down, she wrote, but in highlighting the fact that he was allowed to be employed, in a position of great power, despite his public statements.“Exposing the problematic actions of people in power can often shed light on not who, but what should be our true target: the systems that create and uphold the individual instances of oppression that we struggle against daily” she wrote.“Thugs,” the lieutenant, Victor Gearhart, had called the protesters who took to the streets after Gray’s death. He said they “act like animals” and called them “unbathed parasites.”And: “What % of the kids are committing crime,” he asked. “In Baltimore probably 90%.”His tweets weren’t racist, Gearhart said in a recent interview, and he is not racist, either. He was speaking for himself, he added, and not for the department.“She wrote that screed accusing me of every rotten thing in the book, and, you know, what was I supposed to do? I’m supposed to be libeled by this woman and then sit back?” he said. “This country was founded with a Constitution, and just because you put on a badge doesn’t mean you give up your right to free speech.”Gearhart did not stop tweeting after Gilliam-Price called attention to his account. “Don’t think you can bully me or silence me,” he tweeted. He wrote (inaccurately) that Gilliam-Price was the daughter of a convicted murderer with “Daddy issues.”The Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police quickly moved to distance itself from its own vice president, tweeting that Gearhart’s statements “do not represent or reflect the opinion or beliefs of our organization.” Police Commissioner Kevin Davis also condemned Gearhart’s statements on Twitter.“That was cool,” Gilliam-Price said of Davis’s willingness to speak out, given how frequently and publicly she has criticized his leadership. “I was low-key speechless.”She said the fact that Gearhart has been transferred from Southern District shift commander to overnight security is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough. She wants to see systemic reforms, starting with changes to state law governing how police misconduct is investigated.“She has this fiery spirit about her, as much as I try to quell it — ‘Makayla, you can’t save the world, you have to go ride your bike,’ ” said her mother, Zelda Gilliam.But Gilliam-Price said she’s living up to her mother’s legacy: When Gilliam was nine months pregnant, she was marching against the death penalty, marching to save the life of her brother, who was convicted of murder and who was executed by the state of Maryland when her daughter was 7 months old.“I was literally born into a movement to save and affirm Black lives,” Gilliam-Price said.Now a senior at Baltimore City College — a competitive public magnet school — she hopes to go on to Occidental College in Los Angeles or the New School in New York. When she graduates from college, she wants to be a photojournalist. She wants to create an organization for people of color to cover their own communities.She saw how the national media covered Baltimore’s unrest after Gray’s death, and she hardly recognized her city. There had been no such attention for so many issues that mattered to her community and for so many efforts to create positive change. “They only wanted to consume the spectacle of Black people struggling,” she said.She recently co-founded Assata’s Syllabus, a website dedicated to reporting on Baltimore and “controlling our narrative.” Her first piece for the site was the blog post about Gearhart’s tweets.___Information from: The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com
Baltimore’s police commissioner is criticizing the decision of three officers charged but not convicted in the death of Freddie Gray to attend a conservative group’s gala where they were honored for their service.In this Dec. 16, 2016 file photo, Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Kevin Davis speaks at a press conference, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)WBAL-TV reports (http://bit.ly/2do9ikk) Commissioner Kevin Davis said Wednesday he doesn’t condone their appearance at the Media Research Center’s annual gala Sept. 22. He wants to examine whether department policy is stringent enough to bar that kind of off-duty activity.Lt. Brian Rice and officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller walked onstage to loud applause at the group’s annual awards gala in Washington. Officers Caesar Goodson and William Porter, and Sgt. Alicia White do not appear in the video.Prosecutors dropped all charges after three officers were acquitted and another’s trial ended in a hung jury.Gray, a young Black man, died a week after his neck was broken as he rode in the back of a police van, handcuffed and shackled but not seat-belted in.
The U.S. Census Bureau released a vital, and troubling, examination of the nation’s economy, using new statistics on income, poverty, health insurance and more than 40 other areas through the agency’s American Community Survey. Of gravest concern, according to the Census report, was the sharp decrease in income and increase in poverty among Blacks. There was a $5,000 drop in income among Blacks in D.C. alone.“The American Community Survey allows us to track incremental changes across our nation on how the nation’s people live and work, year-to-year,” Census Bureau Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics Division Chief David Waddington said in a statement. “It’s our country’s only source of small area estimates for social and demographic characteristics. These estimates help people, businesses and governments throughout the country better understand the needs of their populations, the markets in which they operate and the challenges and opportunities they face.”But what does it mean for the District, when, in addition to losses in property, educational gains and businesses, there also exists a financial shift among the same population?“We are seeing, even among well-paid Black families – a struggle to make ends meet. This means that with less disposable income, more Blacks are spending less, saving less, and therefore, not as fluid financially as they were just a year before,” Howard University business administration graduate, Sharif Muhammad, told the AFRO. “This may be the result of skyrocketing housing in the area, or even a slowed job market, which means that we simply have to adapt and curve spending to keep afloat.”The D.C. median income from 2015 to 2016—dropped from $76,233 to $75,506—though increases were tracked in other urban areas. Citing growing racial inequities between White families and those of Blacks and Latinos in D.C., the report shows that even as White families show a median income of more than $120,000, Blacks showed a median income of only $38,000.“I put little stock into these types of reports,” Ward 8 resident Briana Michaels told the AFRO. “This report makes it look like Black people are stupid about their money and hint at racial inequalities, but refuse to report on the systemic racism in hiring, education, housing, and banking that will keep these numbers moving in decline. How do you under-educate people so they can only get hourly jobs and then force them to pay thousands of dollars a month in rent that you know they don’t have?”Poverty rates in the District are set by the rate of $19,000 a year for a three-person household—accounting for nearly 28 percent of the city’s population – most of whom are Black, according to the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute.
By Brandi Randolph, Special to the AFRONothing screams summer in Baltimore quite like Artscape. It is a perfect representation of the city, as Baltimore’s art scene is diverse and expansive. We have a microcosm of creativity that other cities are not fully aware of. That is, until Artscape pops up every year in July.The festival starts at 11 a.m., on July 20 in the area surrounding the MARC Penn Station (1500 N Charles St Baltimore, MD 21201) and goes on for the next three days until July 22. This year’s art is a cluster of interactive pieces, paintings, sculptures, demonstrations and more.There will be performances, workshops concerts and more at this year’s Artscape. (Courtesy photo)One of this year’s crowd pleasers will be the Silent Disco, occurring on July 20 at 12 p.m. at the 1300 block of Mt. Royal Avenue. Silent discos are a growing trend and are a ton of fun for all ages. Donning wireless headphones, you choose the genre of music you want to hear, and you dance like no one is watching with others who are listening to a variety of music through their headphones. Another event that has garnered a lot of attention is the headlining concert starring TLC, which is on the same day as the disco. TLC is a 90’s, four-time Grammy award winning, American R&B girl group that topped the charts with their singles, “Creep,” “No Scrubs” and many more records. This performance will be taking place at the intersection of Mount Royal Avenue and Cathedral Street at 7:30 p.m. on the MICA Main stage.The line-up for July 21 is also fun-filled. An event that will really make everyone move is the Garth Fagan dance experience/performance. This will take place at the Modell Lyric (140 W. Mount Royal Avenue Baltimore, Md 21201). These performances will be kicking off at 1 p.m., and 5 p.m., and on July 22 at 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. Garth Fagan is a Tony award winner and is known for his work his work with “The Lion King” on Broadway.On July 22, there will be a plethora of different performances to explore. One event is the second performance by the Sound Off! Live Winner, King Adam. There was a contest for up-and-coming bands from the Maryland, Delaware and Virginia area to compete for a spot to perform at Artscape, Light City, or the Baltimore Book Fest in September. This will be located at the Morgan State University Festival stage at 1 p.m. Another event that is geared towards kids will be the Harvey and Sam Puppet Company at 1 p.m. They will be doing a fun and informative puppet show storytelling of how African-Americans have contributed to the United States. This will be happening on Mount Royal Avenue.It’s important to have events that bring everyone to one location from all over Baltimore. During my interview with Kathy Hornig, this year’s festival director, she said that, “having a weekend for everyone to come together to celebrate the arts and remind us that there are more things that unite us than divide us,” is what motivates her to make the festival a success for us all. Go and celebrate the music, performances, food and exhibits from artists all around the country.
By Deborah Bailey, Special to the AFROChristopher Lawrence Byrd, a carpenter and avid participant in Baltimore’s community life, died unexpectedly on Sept 28. He was 48.Byrd was a devoted member of the Muslim faith and holistic life practitioner. He was also a loving son, brother and uncle, lifelong bachelor and faithful friend who gifted his family and friends with a naturally charming and generous demeanor, relatives said.Christopher Lawrence Byrd (Courtesy Photo)“Christopher was always giving. He’d be the first to answer your call, the first to reach out and take care of others,” said Byrd’s younger sister, Cimmon Burris. She added, “I’ll remember most how he took care of family members when they got ill and how he treated the children in our family.”Christopher is survived by his parents, Laura Phillips Byrd, a member of the Afro American Newspapers’ Board of Directors and Dr. Eugene Byrd; his only sister, Cimmon (Tylandis); two nephews, Terrance and Tyler Burris and a host of family and friends.A viewing will be held Oct. 1 at noon at Wiley Funeral Home, 9200 Liberty Ave. Midday prayer will follow at 12:30 p.m. at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, 6631 Johnnycake Road. Janazah prayer will follow immediately after midday payer.Burial will follow Janazah prayer service at King Memorial Park which is located at 8710 Dogwood Road, Baltimore.
Related Also in the top 10 were “Friends” (rolling off Netflix for WarnerMedia’s HBO Max next year) and “The Office” (leaving for NBCUniversal’s service in 2021). For that kind of “comfort-food content,” according to MoffettNathanson principal analyst Michael Nathanson, the risk to Netflix “is a loss of easy-to-find and satisfying content that drives down time spent looking. In its place, Netflix will continue to spend more on original programming and marketing to promote other choices.” The analyst added that he continues to believe Netflix’s shares are overvalued (he rates the stock “neutral”), and that new competitive threats in the U.S. are “hardly reflected in their stock price.”Rounding out the top 10 on the survey, the fourth most popular show streaming on Netflix was “Ozark,” followed by “Grace and Frankie”; “Black Mirror”; “Lucifer” (whose first three seasons aired on Fox before Netflix picked it up for a fourth season released this past May); “The Crown”; “The Office”; and “Friends.”What’s important to note, however, is that the survey asked which shows were viewers’ favorites — that’s different than actual time spent viewing. On this front, licensed shows have dominated, in part due to the fact that there are far more episodes of, say, “Friends” (236) than, for example, “Stranger Things” (25 through the first three seasons). According to Nielsen’s SVOD Content Ratings, the No. 1 show on Netflix in 2018 in the U.S. in terms of minutes streamed was “The Office,” followed by “Friends,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “NCIS,” “Criminal Minds” and “Shameless.” The most-viewed Netflix original in 2018, at the No. 7 spot, was “Orange Is the New Black,” per Nielsen.Of the 99 most-cited TV shows for Netflix on the MoffettNathanson/HarrisX survey, 51 were Netflix originals, 42 were licensed TV shows and six actually are not on Netflix, reflecting consumer confusion about where they’ve watched their favorites.The MoffettNathanson/HarrisX survey also found that Hulu’s No. 1 cited favorite show — unsurprisingly — was the breakout hit and award-winning “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Of the service’s top 99 shows, 74 are shows acquired from cable and broadcast TV networks and only 17 are originals; meanwhile, eight of the shows cited by participants are are not currently on Hulu. ×Actors Reveal Their Favorite Disney PrincessesSeveral actors, like Daisy Ridley, Awkwafina, Jeff Goldblum and Gina Rodriguez, reveal their favorite Disney princesses. Rapunzel, Mulan, Ariel,Tiana, Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine all got some love from the Disney stars.More VideosVolume 0%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard Shortcutsplay/pauseincrease volumedecrease volumeseek forwardsseek backwardstoggle captionstoggle fullscreenmute/unmuteseek to %SPACE↑↓→←cfm0-9Next UpJennifer Lopez Shares How She Became a Mogul04:350.5x1x1.25×1.5x2xLive00:0002:1502:15 ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Creator Jenji Kohan and Star Uzo Aduba Bid Farewell Popular on Variety What’s Coming to Netflix in September 2019 Asked to pick their favorite shows on Netflix, users surveyed put “Orange Is the New Black” at No. 1 and “Stranger Things” at No. 2, topping licensed shows like “The Office” and “Friends,” according to a new study.That suggests that for Netflix, the coming departure of some popular old TV shows — not to mention a steady drop-off of Disney titles — isn’t going to derail the streaming leader. But it will mean Netflix is going to have to continue to spend more to produce and market original content as media conglomerates claw back their libraries.Netflix still relies heavily on licensed content. That said, 15 of the top 20 shows Netflix subscribers cited as their “favorite” shows were Netflix originals, according to a MoffettNathanson-commissioned poll conducted by HarrisX of 11,135 U.S. subscription-video service users in May-June 2019. (The No. 3 entry on the survey was a catch-all category of “movies.”) For Amazon Prime Video, the top five shows were each originals — “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.” “Bosch,” “The Man in the High Castle,” and “Sneaky Pete.” But of the top 99, only 19 were original titles, 44 were licensed and 36 that respondents cited (like “Game of Thrones”) weren’t even available on the service, something the analyst firm attributed to consumers confusing Prime Video with the rentals and purchases available through Amazon Video.Other findings from the MoffettNathanson/HarrisX survey:Password sharing: 14% of Netflix users tap into an account paid for by someone outside of their household, compared with 11% of Hulu users and 6% of Amazon Prime Video users.Subscription tiers: Of Netflix subscribers, 32% have the Basic plan ($8.99 per month), 43% have the Standard package ($12.99) and 26% have the Premium ($15.99). Among Hulu customers, 72% are on the $5.99-per-month basic package with ads and 28% are on the $11.99 monthly no-ads plan (in line with Hulu’s claim that 70% of its overall viewers are on the ad-supported tier).Usage: 77% of Netflix users 76% of Hulu customers watch either daily or a few times a week, while 60% of Amazon Prime Video users said the same. About 39% of both Netflix and Hulu subs say they stream something on the services every day, compared with 22% of Amazon Prime Video users.Pictured above (l. to r.): Taryn Manning and Uzo Aduba from “Orange Is the New Black”; Millie Bobby Brown in “Stranger Things”
Stay on target It’s not quite Game of Thrones numbers, but Grand Tour a reboot of BBC’s immensely popular car and culture show Top Gear, is collecting a lot of viewers, just not through legal means.The show, hosted by Jeremy Clarkson on Amazon Prime, was picked up by the company for an astounding $160 million as a way to grow its British subscriber base. Amazon hasn’t released specific viewing data but suggested that the first episode was watched by “millions” of people.It broke the record previously held by Man in the High Castle for opening weekend viewers. “The Grand Tour has become the biggest show premiere ever on Amazon Prime Video, breaking records around the world,” a spokesperson for Amazon told the Guardian.However, according to data released by Muso, a British research firm and antipiracy solutions vendor, Grand Tour‘s first episode was downloaded 7.9 million times, with the second getting pirated 6.4 million, making it the most pirated show in British TV history.Muso gathered data from free-to-air broadcast data in the United Kingdom along with research on the most pirated Netflix content to draw its conclusions.If you’ve been following Top Gear or the controversy surrounding Clarkson in the past couple years, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The BBC dropped Clarkson after an “unprovoked physical and verbal attack” on a producer, along with a history of racist and sexist remarks. There was a large fan outpouring in support of Clarkson though, who wasn’t reinstated at the network, but had his show picked up by Amazon. The first episode premiered on Nov. 18 of this year.Former Top Gear presenters, Richard Hammond and James May, are also on the new show.Originally, reports said that Grand Tour was the “most illegally downloaded program ever,” although that’s not exactly true. A rep for Muso told Variety that the show had the highest number of piracy views for a British TV show in history and the highest level for a show in its first season through the first three episodes.Tecxipio, a Germany-based firm, released piracy numbers for other popular shows such as Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead and the Grand Tour numbers didn’t even come close. Clarkson’s show was shared 1.92 million times on peer-to-peer piracy networks, while The Walking Dead was shared 9.87 million over the same three-week period. The fifth episode in the fifth season of Game of Thrones was pirated more in 24 hours than the Grand Tour was in three weeks. Amazon’s ‘Marvelous’ Gas Station Discount Causes Chaos in CaliforniaAmazon to Donate Unsold Products Instead of Trashing Them
This season of American Horror Story didn’t get off to the strongest start. The first three episodes were either confusing, groan-worthy or just boring. It constantly undermined any tension or dread it managed to build, and never let the audience in on what was happening enough for us to be scared. It’s fourth episode, a flashback to just before and after the election, finally seems to have addressed all of those issues.A lot of the improvement has to do with the lack of Sarah Paulson’s Ally in this episode. In the rest of the season, the camera barely ever left her and the show still couldn’t give us a single reason to like her. It’s fine to have unlikable characters, and this show has had some great ones. But in a horror story, we want some reason to root for the main character. There should be something that makes us want to see her survive. Ally hasn’t given us that. And her fear of just about everything got annoying real quick. It’s like the horror equivalent of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” If you tell me everything is scary, I’m not going to believe you when something actually is.The last part of this episode focused instead on Alison Pill’s Ivy, who’s a much better horror protagonist. She’s someone we can root for, someone who gets scared by actual scary things. As a result, when she starts to go to dark places after being sexually assaulted, it really is horrifying. Don’t worry, last night’s episode didn’t go full ’70s exploitation rape-revenge movie. Instead, it mimicked Saw (the good one). After the Trump-supporting grocery store cashier grabs her crotch, Winter shows up to chase him away. Yes, it would appear that Winter and Ivy met before she was hired to be Ozy’s new nanny. Winter convinces her to knock out the guy at his grocery store with a taser, then tie him up in a basement until after the election is over. After they leave, Kai shows up. He uses the man’s desperation, humiliation and anger at women to get him to cut his arm off, providing the episode with a nice bookend. It began by showing us a man voting for Trump and triumphantly holding a bloody stump. It ended by showing us how he got that way. It’s the best story this season has told us so far.Chaz Bono (Photo via FX)This episode finally answered some questions we desperately needed to be answered. I maybe understand why they felt they had to wait this long. A lot of horror comes from the unexplained. Give away too much too early, and you’ve killed any dread or tension you could have built. The first three episodes of this season had the opposite problem. It explained absolutely nothing. It’s hard to be scared when we’re just trying to figure out what the hell you’re showing us. We need a little information to get us invested in what’s going on. This flashback episode gave us that. We see how Kai attracts people to his cult of personality. We now know exactly who’s involved. Most importantly, we know what Kai wants, and it has very little to do with Trump. He’s not simply a Trump-supporter. He’s feeding on the fear the Trump presidency has created. He and Winter are working together from the beginning to manipulate followers with their election-based fears. Kai appeals to the more conservative and angry people, while Winter targets liberals. (Also, it looks like she’s been trying to break up Ally and Ivy long before the bathtub incident.) It’s actually a pretty satisfying way to marry the election and cult elements, and gives the rest of the season a nice jumping off point. If only they did that to begin with.The episode focused on Kai, detailing how he recruited Harrison and Meadow, as well as the reporter played by Adina Porter, Beverly Hope. (That’s a cool surprise, I guess.) Instead of wondering when we’d be treated to a jump scare or a character freaking out over what turns out to be nothing, we watched a charismatic sociopath manipulate people into doing horrible things. That created an ongoing sense of dread that was missing from the past few episodes. We were watching something terrible take place and had no power to stop it. Finally, we got some real horror from American Horror Story. First, Kai used Harrison’s attraction to him to make him more open to suggestion. Then, he uses Harrison’s desperation and anger at his boss to get him to commit murder. Meadow’s indoctrination is comically short. She sees Harrison sawing off his boss’s head in their bathtub and calmly asks who Kai is. By her own admission, she doesn’t really believe in much (she wrote in Oprah on her ballot), so I guess that’s all it took. The whole sequence was funny, gratuitously gross, and unsettling. That’s what I come to American Horror Story for.Emma Roberts (Photo via FX)The middle segment wasn’t quite as strong, but we learned who’s behind the clown masks we’ve been seeing. Meadow designed them, and we see the trio of (we can reasonably assume) Kai, Meadow, and Harrison murder Beverly’s rival, a young reporter who exclusively does fluff pieces and is sleeping with the boss. When Kai offers her equal power in whatever new world order he’s creating, she readily joins him. There are still a few clowns we haven’t met yet, but now we know where they’re coming from. At least the ones that aren’t in Ally’s head. If there even are any in her head. Frankly, after this episode, I care even less about that plot.Despite producing what’s easily the best episode of the season, the basic premise still has a problem that I don’t think the season can shake. It’s exhausting. We are dealing with the fallout of the 2016 election all day, every day. There is very real fear and suffering happening all over the country as a direct result of that election. Being awake and online in 2017 means confronting it all day, and now we have a twisted fantasy version of those fears coming at us for an extra hour every Tuesday. Catharsis is a big part of why horror is so fun to watch, and this season isn’t offering any. It’s good to build stress and tension the way this episode does, but there needs to be some kind of release. We’re all so tired and having the same political discourse catchphrases we hear/read all day mockingly parroted back to us in rapid-fire succession isn’t helping any.Billy Eichner (Photo via FX)Even so, I’m glad the season found a way to turn itself around. The last three episodes were an almost unwatchable slog. This one at least focused its story, and finally had some good horror. It also opens up the rest of the season to go somewhere more interesting. The election has now been thoroughly dealt with and the show can move on. Now that we know exactly what Kai’s game is, the show can explore that more. If the show can capitalize on this momentum, we should have some good scares coming our way. When last week’s episode ended on a cliffhanger, I couldn’t care less what happened next. After last night, I care a little.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on target Top Movie and TV Trailers You Might Have Missed This WeekAmerican Horror Story Takes Us Back to the Days of Witches and Warlocks
Stay on target Syfy Axes ‘Krypton’ Superhero Series After 2 SeasonsWhat to Stream on Amazon Prime This Weekend Thousands of people demanded the cancellation of Good Omens, a dark comedy TV show based on the hit novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Their petition was almost making moves, except it was addressed to the wrong company—Netflix.The petition, which was started by the Return to Order campaign, and has since been removed as of Thursday evening, surpassed its signature goal of 15,000 individuals, USA Today noted. People who signed the petition claimed that the series makes fun of God’s wisdom by showing “devils and Satanists as normal and even good.” They weren’t thrilled that an angel and a demon could be buddies and that God was voiced by a female.Good Omens, a new Amazon Prime series, highlights an angel and a demon who form a friendship (Michael Sheen and David Tennant), so they can save the planet from an apocalypse caused by the anti-Christ, who happens to be a young middle school boy.Gaiman, who caught wind of the petition on Wednesday, poked fun at the petition’s complaints in a cheeky tweet.I love that they are going to write to Netflix to try and get #GoodOmens cancelled. Says it all really. https://t.co/8WNxCY1YmV— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) June 19, 2019“I love that they are going to write to Netflix to try and get (‘Good Omens’) cancelled,” Gaiman tweeted in response to the anti-Good Omens petition. “Says it all really.”Some audiences have not been happy with movies and TV shows lately: Earlier this month, Marvel fans formed a petition to bring back Tony Stark, since Iron Man sadly didn’t live in the film Avengers: Endgame. In May, many Game of Thrones fans urged HBO to re-do the show’s last season in a Change.org petition, which racked up more than one million signatures.More on Geek.com:‘Good Omens’ Trailer Turns the End of the World Into the Ultimate PartyNeil Gaiman’s ‘Good Omens’ Fantasy Series Is Coming to Amazon on May 31‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ Completes Netflix’s Anime Ambitions
Stay on target MovieBob Reviews: ‘Shadow’MovieBob Reviews: ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ At this point, the Fast & Furious franchise represents something like the longest ironic joke ever told to global movie audiences. At some point in the white noise between sequels, a series initially dedicated to showing off expensively-outfitted cars, the almost determinedly anti-charismatic presence of Vin Diesel (who we at one point thought was going to be a much bigger star) and pretty much nothing else morphed into an over-the-top parody of itself that endures by impressively resisting all opportunities to acknowledge that is a parody – one that is now increasingly centered on a super-charismatic actor who’s turning out to be a much bigger star than anyone could’ve anticipated in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.Yet the franchise continues, powered by an innate sense of audience connectivity that understands better than any modern action film outside of maybe the first Avengers movie that audiences will forgive almost any lapse in narrative logic so long as the leap of faith lands somewhere entertaining. When exactly did a crew of street-racing reprobates and (literal) highway-robbers transform fully into a team of justice-seeking mercenaries for hire? What year did Tokyo Drift take place in, again? Why does Hobbs continue to use Toretto’s team even for missions that are not explicitly car-related until they’ve shown up? Does anyone remember that the first movie just wasn’t very good? Don’t ask those questions – you’ll spoil everyone’s good time.And it is still a good time – just maybe not a great time. Don’t get me wrong, the car stunts and the action beats are as good as they’ve ever been (new director F. Gary Gray being an old pro at this sort of thing) and by now the returning cast has all settled nicely into what passes for characterization in this series for their individual roles. I.e. “keep a straight face, work your specific routine, occasionally indicate to the audience that you also have no idea what purpose Tyrese’s character is actually meant to serve.” And the new setup that finds Toretto seemingly betraying his comrades at the behest of Charlize Theron’s mysterious new supervillain Cipher is, at least initially, a nice break from the routine.The letdown is that for the first time in a while the sense of the franchise genuinely going above and beyond expectations isn’t quite there. It’s still getting bigger and more preposterous, but almost mechanically so – the cool new gag of the team fighting against a whole city’s worth of remote-controlled “zombie” cars is awesome but only really gets busted out for one scene, the implications of Cipher having some kind of “deep lore” connection to the series turns out to just be a standard retcon making her the vague mastermind behind the last two movies’ bad guys and Toretto’s much-hyped bad guy turn lacks the expected intrigue and gravity: Iron Man turning against Captain America this is not.Some of the problems are structural. It’s made explicit from the start that Dom is being manipulated against his will (longtime fans of the franchise will guess what Cipher “has on him” almost immediately, though it’s treated like a shocking reveal). And Dom has a scheme of his own for turning the tables is teed-up for the audience far too early. It’s not uninteresting, and in the best moments, it even serves as a reminder that Diesel’s extremely limited range has always been suited to taciturn moral ambiguity than hero roles. But it ends up feeling like what it increasingly seems to have been all along: A way to keep Vin Diesel at the nominal forefront of the storyline without having to spend as much time working with the rest of the ensemble.And that’s probably the most unfortunate aspect keeping The Fate of The Furious from rising to the occasion: As many had feared, you can really feel the absence of the late Paul Walker in the group dynamic, and it doesn’t feel like the franchise has worked out a new “glue” to hold all the other personalities together as a unit. That becomes something that matters when you’ve got to sell increasingly absurd status-quo evolutions like Jason Statham’s credulity-straining elevation to the “good guy” side, a face-turn that only remotely makes a lick of sense if you assume that the franchise is now running on Dragon Ball Z logic i.e. the arrival of a “worse” villain automatically gets the last nemesis invited to the cookout. Fortunately, Statham is good enough at this kind of role to easily get himself over with the audience by knocking a solo action sequence out of the park in Act 3 (you’ll know it when you see it.)Fate of The Furious not a “bad” movie by any stretch. But the whole hook of this franchise for a long time now has been to wind up being so much better than you’d imagine a bunch of pyrotechnic nonsense about B-list actors fighting terrorism with street-racing would be, and this one is… well, “only” about as good as you could reasonably expect. It’s fine, but it doesn’t really achieve the signature Fast & Furious transcendence even as it ramps up the ridiculous stunts, admirably diverse camaraderie and Diesel’s extraterrestrial pronunciation of the word “fambly.” And it signals a worrying sense that the series may have peaked with two more installments left to go.