Entertainment

The Black And Latino Boys Documented In ‘Whey They See Us’ Weren’t The Only Ones Who Had Their Lives Ruined

By now, Netflix has found a way to produce TV shows that deal with often uncomfortable topics. From the “Ted Bundy Tapes,” which examines the sex appeal of a horrible serial killer, to “1994,” which discusses thorny issues in recent Mexican political history, the streaming giant has revisited historical events that have been mired in controversy.

The latest show to set the Internet of fire is “When They See Us,” a dramatizes retelling of the story of five POC young men who were wrongly incarcerated after the rape of Trisha Meili, a white woman who was attacked in the North Woods of Manhattan’s Central Park on April 19, 1989. Following the crimes, the city was put on alert and the police department was pressured into finding a culprit. And, of course, as was sort of expected, they found the face of evil in five teenagers of color (four Blacks and one Latino): Raymond Santana, 14; Kevin Richardson, 15; Antron McCray, 15; Yusef Salaam, 15; and 16-year-old Korey Wise. These five teenagers were deprived of their innocence and sent to a juvenile correctional facility on charges of rape, assault and related crimes in 1990. Korey, who was then just 16, was sent to adult prison. Needless to say, their lives were forever changed.

But surprise, surprise, they were not guilty, just as they had stated all along. In 2002 the real assailant confessed and DNA testing verified his guilt. The convictions were vacated. However, these men and their families had to rebuild their lives. Netflix has now financed and distributed a four-episode series that explores the social and psychological impact that the events had in the country (the case garnered a lot of media attention, and white supremacists saw the Central Park murder as a validation of sus ideas pendejas). The cast is testament of the talent of independent cinema and of people of color working in Hollywood:  Jharrel Jerome, Jovan Adepo, Michael K. Williams, Logan Marshall-Green, Joshua Jackson, Blair Underwood, Vera Farmiga, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, Niecy Nash, Aunjanue Ellis, and Kylie Bunbury give life to this story.

The series, which was launched on May 31, has gotten a lot of attention and has caused all the feelings with viewers. 

People have headed to Twitter to express their anger and disgust.

Credit: @muz_nash / Twitter

The story of the Central Park Five often seems like an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” One day you are a normal teenager minding your own business and the next you are being profiled at a police station and public figures want you dead.

The show is an indictment of a broken system.

Credit: @MrShahhh / Twitter

Rather than an isolated event, “When They See Us”is indicative of a judicial and prison system in which ethnic and racial minorities are disadvantaged. Just think about this, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in 2013 black males accounted for 37 percent of the total male prison population, white males 32 percent, and Hispanic males 22 percent. The figures of Black and Brown inmates just seem to be increasing.

What if the real assailant hadn’t come forward?

Credit: @Isiah_Barnes / Twitter

This Twitter user served us with a harsh truth: the only reason why the Central Park Five have been exonerated is the guilt that the real rapist and murderer felt. Can you imagine how many innocent men and women are wrongly imprisoned today?

“When They See Us”will make you cry and feel angry, and that is okay.

Credit: @ltz_Dasilva1 / Twitter

One of the great things about art is that by making us feel something, political action is often instigated. Many viewers have questioned the invulnerability of the system by watching this show. Let’s remember that this is a topic that Netflix has tackled before, particularly in the show “Orange is the New Black,” were Black, Brown and white identities are confronted in the prison industrial complex. 

Before we forget. Yes, Donald Trump, then a real estate magnate, did call for their execution.

Credit: 161007162257-trump-central-park-5-ad-super-tease.jpg. Digital image. CNN

The current POTUS paid an ad on New York’s most popular newspapers calling for the execution of the Central Park Five. This dramatically changed public perception of the young men, and their culpability was presumed. Trump spent $85,000 on these ads. Trump wrote: “At what point did we cross the line from the fine and noble pursuit of genuine civil liberties to the reckless an dangerously permissive atmosphere which allows criminals of every age to beat and rape a helpless woman and then laugh at her family’s anguish? I want to hate these murderers and I always will. I am not looking to psychoanalyze or understand them, I am looking to punish them.” Damn.

The show is spearheaded by Ava DuVernay, a powerful female voice in Hollywood.

Credit: ava / Instagram

The show is the brainchild of Ava DuVernay, who has made a name for herself as a talented filmmaker who can at the same time deal with thorny issues regarding African-American history and create compelling, commercially viable movies. She directed the Golden Globe-nominated “Selma”and the Oscar-nominated documentary “13th.”

DuVernay is a power player in the industry, so “When They See Us”could get traction.

Credit: ava / Instagram

Ava has done what many consider still kind of impossible in Hollywood: she has established a name for herself even if she is a Black woman. Besides Shonda Rhimes, there are not many Black women who have made their voice heard in a white and male-dominated industry. We need more people like Ava and more shows like “When They See Us.”

The original title was “Central Park Five.”

Credit: whentheyseeus / Instagram

We like the final title much better: it gives the show a bigger sense of universality. Also, Central Park Five centers on the trauma and not necessarily on the post-incarceration story of redemption. 

It is one of the highest ranked TV shows on Rotten Tomatoes.

Credit: whentheyseeus / Instagram

The acclaim has been universal: it has a 94 percent Fresh score on the aggregated review site Rotten Tomatoes. Critics have highlighted the impact that the prosecution and journalists had in how the teens were seen by the public. Hannah Giorgis from The Atlantic wrote: In rendering their journeys, DuVernay pays careful attention to the terrifying power of language, especially the animalistic rhetoric with which prosecutors and journalists referred to the teens.” Ouch: this is still true for much of American media. 

There is an Oprah special, “Oprah Winfrey Presents When They See Us Now,” with the original five protagonists.

Credit: whentheyseeus / Instagram

You can see a bit here, but the full interview was released on Netflix and the Oprah Winfrey Network on June 12. In this interview, Oprah looks at their lives and raises questions about the system that allowed this to happen. How many more Black and Brown youth are suffering from similar injustices today? 

They are still good friends, brothers forever.

Credit: santanaraymond / Instagram

We can’t stop shedding a tear when we see this photo. Five men who keep positive even if innocence was taken away from them unexpectedly. How to be optimistic afterlife has dealt you the worst possible hand? Todo un ejemplo de actitud, caballeros.

READ: Ava DuVernay’s ‘When They See Us’ Explores The True Story Of The Injustices Against Black And Brown Boys

Netflix Is Bringing Latinidad To The Fantasy Realm And LOTR Fans Gear Up

Entertainment

Netflix Is Bringing Latinidad To The Fantasy Realm And LOTR Fans Gear Up

Streaming services like Netflix have become our go-to place for fresh media. So, whenever we hear of a new project coming from the streaming service, we’re all in. Last November, Netflix announced a huge 6 project animated deal that will bring even more cartoon goodness to our screens. One, in particular, has us especially excited because it comes from animator and director Jorge Gutierrez. You might remember him from Nickelodeon’s “El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera” and the gorgeously animated “The Book of Life.”

Now, we’re seeing the first looks of Gutierrez’s new Netflix project, “Maya and the Three.”

Twitter / @mexopolis

Described as a Mesoamerican fantasy epic, the director sat down with VARIETY to share the origins of the project and the journey to get it made. Gutierrez was approached by Netflix with an alluring challenge: share his dream project with executives; the one he didn’t believe anyone would ever allow him to make. It only took him one pitch to win the streaming giant over and “Maya” was greenlit for production.

“So I sat down on Jan. 25th of [2018] and that was the first time I ever pitched ‘Maya,’” he shared with VARIETY. “No art, no writing, just an idea. And here I am 11 months later, knee-deep in production.”

It was Gutierrez’s goal to portray a “bad-ass female Mesoamerican hero” in a fantasy world of his own creation.

Twitter / @zette16

“I started seeing a lot of things I didn’t like as far as not having any lead females, especially in Mesoamerican mythology,” he explained. “So I said I want to have a hero who is a half-god half-human warrior princess.”

In the Netflix series, a demigod warrior princess named Maya embarks on a quest to recruit three legendary fighters. With their help, she hopes to save the worlds of god and man from destruction. The intention was to show Maya as a strong female lead and, to do so, Gutierrez pulled from his real-life heroes. The director credits his sister, mother and his wife, Sandra Equihua for inspiring the mythical heroine. Equihua is also a talented animator and acts as a character designer for the female characters in her husband’s work.

With his female lead in place, Gutierrez focused on the mystical world that “Maya” would be set in.

Twitter / @mexopolis

The setting for the Netflix limited series has been growing in Gutierrez’s mind since he was a boy growing up in Mexico City. He would wander the halls of the Museum of Natural History and makeup stories about what he saw. These stories would later help to mold the setting. Even now, the director has fun teasing his Twitter followers with hints about what the new series could look like. However, it’s the architecture from his boyhood explorations, Gutierrez’s fondness for skulls and the pantheon of Mesoamerican gods that have helped to create Maya’s world.

Due to the mystical quest and the fantasy setting of “Maya and the Three,” Gutierrez has taken to calling the series the Mexican “Lord of the Rings.” Still, it’s a fantasy first and foremost. The director wants everyone to understand that “Maya” is inspired by Mesoamerican culture but is not meant to be an accurate representation.

“I tell everybody that while it’s inspired by Mesoamerica, this will be as accurate (to that world) as ‘Rocky’ was to boxing,” Gutierrez shared with VARIETY. “It’s all fantasy and I’m having a blast playing with the history.”

The series will feature a number of talented Latinx writers, producers and voice actors to bring Maya to life.

Instagram / @thraxisjr

Silvia Olivas from “Elena of Avalor” is acting as a co-writer and co-producer for “Maya and the Three.” From Disney’s “Moana,” Jeff Ranjo is the head of story. Paul Sullivan, who worked with Gutierrez on “The Book of Life,” is the production designer.

Despite these important hires, animators were in short supply so the producer had to get creative.

“Especially in L.A., we are all fighting for basically the same people, so now we’re looking outside. Before we announced Maya, I would go online and look for artists who were already inspired by Mesoamerica and say to them ‘You already love this stuff, we love it too! Come to our team.’”

Gutierrez used Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr to find animators that could do justice to the project. This modern-day recruiting system allowed Gutierrez and his team to find fresh artists with untapped talent to animate “Maya.” The results promise to be unique and beautiful.

The series is still a long ways away; it won’t debut on Netflix until its 2021 worldwide release. While it’s a long wait, the director promises fans that it is well worth it.

“Please have patience,” he told fans through his VARIETY interview. “This is gonna take a while, but we hope it’s unlike anything anyone has ever seen. We are so giddy every day and still can’t believe this is happening.”

Netflix Is Bringing Us An Anime Series Based In Fictional Mexico And We Are Here For It

Entertainment

Netflix Is Bringing Us An Anime Series Based In Fictional Mexico And We Are Here For It

Netflix Mexico

Probably one of the worst feelings in the world is sitting down for a good night of Netflix and chill, with or without company, and realizing you have no idea what to watch. You start scrolling, and all you can seem to find on the menu is stuff that you don’t wanna watch. It’s agonizing. Well, it’s time to get excited, babes, because there’s a new show gracing your screens that you definitely don’t wanna miss: Seis Manos.

Okay, you’ve got me interested. But what’s this Seis Manos about?

Instagram / @adrianfromssf

Set in the 1970s, this animated television series takes place in the fictional Mexican town of San Simon, and follows the story of three orphans who seek to get revenge for the death of their mentor. Each orphan was trained in a different tradition of Chinese martial arts, and use their fighting skills to exact their own form of justice. Before you ask – yes, the show’s creators have done their research, so the fighting styles depicted in Seis Manos are legit. Just … don’t go trying them at home.

The show, which features quite a bit of violence, follows in the grindhouse tradition.

Instagram / @cinespectaculo

While our heroes are facing their own set of trials and tribulations, the San Simon police and the DEA are working in the background, trying to take down a formidable drug lord in the area. Naturally, both the authorities and the Seis Manos find themselves on the same trail. From there – well, you’ll just have to watch the show to find out what happens! A warning, though: it is pretty violent, since Seis Manos follows in the grindhouse tradition.

We know you’re dying to tell us about the geeky, behind-the-scenes, stuff. 

Instagram / @ionexhibits

The cool thing about Seis Manos is the fact that, while Netflix has been growing its collection of Japanese anime over the past little while, it’s yet to really delve into other animation. Seis Manos is part of filling that gap – and it’s doing so while shining a spotlight on the creative talents of people of color. The show, which has been developed in partnership with Viz Media, is being produced entirely in-house by Austin-based Powerhouse Animation Studios. 

And best of all, we don’t have to wait much longer for the show’s debut!

Instagram / @yoinvitoelcine

Even though production for the show has been in the works for a while, Seis Manos was only officially confirmed in May 2018, after Powerhouse saw success with their adaptation of Castlevania for Netflix. However, we’ll be seeing Seis Manos on our screens real soon: its release is marked for fall 2019. And we only have three weeks left of summer!

Do we know any of the voice actors in Seis Manos?

Instagram / @fclasangelicasbr

In short: hell yes! Mike Colter, the deep-voiced heartthrob behind Marvel’s Luke Cage, is set to play DEA agent Brister alongside Angelica Vale, who voices the local cop Garcia. While there are three central protagonists in the orphaned martial artist practitioners, only two are voiced. According to the footage promoting Seis Manos, Silencio, the orphan who specializes in the “white eyebrow” style, doesn’t speak. And so, Aislinn Derbez voices Isabella, an orphan who specializes in the Saholin hung ga style, while Jonny Cruz provides the talent for Jesus, the orphan known for his drunken boxing fighting style.

Yup, our beloved Danny Trejo is playing the ultimate villain – El Balde.

Instagram / @mangaforeverofficial

Our fave Danny Trejo was brought on board to be the voice behind the bad guy, the violent drug lord El Balde. You’d know him best for his roles in Spy Kids, as Machete, and as the drug lord Tortuga, in Breaking Bad. While he’s obviously drawing from his ability to play menacing villains and antiheroes for Seis Manos, it’s gonna be hard for Trejo to keep up the tough act after he literally saved a baby from a car crash only a few days ago. 

In summary: consider your viewing for fall sorted, babes. At least for one binge-session, that is. If you’re keen on finding out more about Seis Manos, have a watch of the trailer here. Or, if you’ve already seen the trailer already, let us know your thoughts about Seis Manos on our Facebook page – you can find us through the icon at the top of the page

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