Hollywood diversifies

By Madison Williams, Transcript Correspondent

It’s mighty morphin’ time.

Reminiscent of a classic action movie, Power Rangers embraces the nostalgia of the stereotypical superhero plot, while also breaking down walls and destroying barriers.

Originating from a television series started in 1993, the new Power Rangers reboot released this March, features a racially diverse cast, including a character on the Autism spectrum and another who is questioning her sexuality.

The reboot has gained widespread attention for its prominent inclusivity, and attention to diversity. Its representation of minorities in mainstream media is an essential yet often ignored notion.

“We stuck to the original concept of having a very diversi ed cast. I don’t think a lot of movies take that kind of risk of having a maybe gay character as a super-hero and an autistic kid as a superhero,” said Power Rangers creator Haim Saban in an interview with CNN.

In the Power Rangers movie, the rangers are not de ned by their differences such as being on the autism spectrum and questioning one’s sexuality. Instead, they exist as multi-dimensional superheroes, capable of being strong yet vulnerable, in a sense human and relatable.

“Movies like Power Rangers are so important for representing queer people and neurodiversity,” said freshman Brandon Meyer, who is also a member of the Pride Club. “As long as the representation is done well and is good representation, it will actually be noticed by a large portion of people.”

Seeing inclusion in the mainstream media puts forth an idea that it is acceptable to differ from what is deemed traditionally, socially, and culturally acceptable in our society.

This message is one that can and should be reflected in all aspects of our culture, and used to inform the public in how they should positively contribute to acceptance and inclusion.

On a campus that is “committed to providing a supportive and richly diverse culture on our campus,” according to Ohio Weslyean’s website, it is imperative that the school continues to learn and grow from the messages of inclusivity depicted in mainstream media, and movies like Power Rangers.

“Diversity, to me, means having many different types of people. We have made strides there. The key is inclusion so that not only are all included but all are represented. That, though, is harder to achieve,” said Professor Bob Gitter, a Joseph A. Meek professor of economics.

Olmstead goes from print to screen

Photo courtesy of owu.edu
   Photo courtesy of owu.edu

Ross Hickenbottom, Sports Editor

Ohio Wesleyan’s Robert Olmstead has teamed up with two Hollywood in-laws, Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck to create a film based on his novel “Far Bright Star.”

Olmstead is an “established writer of fiction,” with four novels under his belt, short stories as well as numerous articles published in magazines and journals.

He is a New Hampshire native, who grew up on a farm and enjoyed outdoor activities like fishing. He graduated with two degrees from Syracuse University.

Before becoming the director of Ohio Wesleyan’s creative writing program, he served as a senior writer at Dickinson College in PA as well as Boise State University.

“Far Bright Star” is the first part of a series, consisting of three novels.

“There are three books, and in my mind they are a trilogy. ‘Coal Black Horse,’ ‘Far Bright Star’ and ‘The Coldest Night’ are loosely connected,” Olmstead said.

“They are about these three generations of a family and has to do with the legacy and inheritance of war.  It interests me how in some families, war passes down through them as a trade or occupation if you will,” he continued.

Professor Olmstead received his inspiration for the series from a trip he took back in 1997.

Image courtesy of amazon.com.
Image courtesy of amazon.com.

“It started back in probably ’97. I was down in Georgia hunting wild boar, and there were all of these guys I was hanging out with, and this goes back to the early 90s and these fathers, sons and grandsons were just waiting around for the next war, you know? It really got me thinking about this legacy of violence, inheritance of war,” he explained.

Olmstead feels as if it’s embedded into the American psychology that a son follows a father in a path of occupation, but making war is a “whole different story.”

The problem is, though, according to him, that in America, we don’t see ourselves as a nation of warriors, so it makes for a much more riveting and interesting topic.

Before the inspiration developed, moving Olmstead to write this certain series of novels, or anything else he has constructed, he was a kid who loved to read.

“At a very young age, novels, short stories, fiction, were very, very important to me,” he said.

“I just remember at a young age, just thinking; ‘wouldn’t it be great to do for some people, what some of these people have done for me?’ It’s like giving back, returning the favor,” Olmstead reminisced.

The story involves the visit of an aging cavalryman who leads a group of young men on a hunt for Pancho Villa. It takes place in 1916 and captured the attention of director Casey Affleck.

Affleck, who directed “I’m Still Here” and “The Book of Charles,” and acted in “Manchester by the Sea,” “Interstellar” and “Gone Baby Gone,” is the younger brother of Ben Affleck.  He described it as a “beautifully written story on pain and loss in the drive and resilience one finds within themselves to continue through the day.”

Affleck, in the midst of starting a new production company, approached Olmstead in 2014 and gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse.  Contracts were signed in November 2014, the screenwriter finished his sample and just this past October, Olmstead received the screenplay.  

“It blew me away,” he said. “It was extremely powerful.”

It was announced that Joaquin Phoenix, known for his roles in “Gladiator” and “Walk the Line,” would play the lead role in November 2015.

Olmstead admitted that it was a strange coincidence, having Joaquin Phoenix star in his production because he starred in one of Olmstead’s colleague’s films, “Buffalo Soldiers.”

Olmstead looks forward to the release of “Far Bright Star,” and the positive impact the publicity will have on OWU, which has already started.

Chris Mondon, OWU graduate, is familiar with Olmstead’s work, and “can’t wait for the movie to be released.”

“I love Joaquin Phoenix and this whole storyline,” he said.

The production process is still in action, and release information will be communicated within the year.