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Hip-Hop Adaptation of Romeo and Juliet to Be Produced by Queen Latifah and Will Smith

Imagine a crowded arena filled with fans of hip-hop music. They await the arrival of some illustrious artist such as the Fresh Prince, DJ Jazzy Jeff, or Queen Latifah; but then, a scrawny emo kid takes the stage—it’s Romeo of house Montague. The beat drops…

In Northeastern Italy born and raised

Pining over love interests is how I spend most of my days

Stressin’ out cryin’ (eventually) dyin’ all cool

Reading some poetry outside of the school

When a couple of families that were up to no good

Started making trouble in my neighborhood

I stirred up one little feud and my mom got scared

She said ‘You’re gonna end up dying with that Capulet girl by the end of this play’

 

Image Via Rebloggy.com

 

No? Yeah, that was bad. What won’t be is the recently announced a hip hop musical adaptation of the William Shakespeare tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. Not taking place in West Philadelphia or  Northeastern Italy in the 14th century, this new take will feature a different and more contemporary setting. It is being described as “a contemporary, musical take on Romeo and Juliet set against the urban rhythms of New York. The love story follows a young waitress from the streets of Brooklyn and an aspiring musician from a wealthy family whose unconventional romance forces them to confront their life choices.”

 

This news comes via Variety which also reports that the project will be directed and written by Solvan “Slick” Naim—a much better rapper than I will ever be. The Algerian-American writer, director, and rapper hails from Bushwick, Brooklyn; Naim already has a comedy series on Netflix entitled “It’s Bruno” which premiered today. He will pen the script for the untitled R&J project with Dave Broome for everyone’s favorite streaming powerhouse.

 

Image Via Hollywoodreporter.com

 

Producing the film will be the Fresh Prince himself, William Smith along with Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere (Flavor Unit Entertainment), James Lassiter, and Caleeb Pinkett (Overbrook Entertainment).

 

Featured Image Via Billboard.com

An incarcerated man reads - as is his right

U.S. Prisons Ban Books Critical of Criminal Justice System

For a country intent on the loosest possible definitions of free speech, one of our most marginalized populations is subject to an insidious degree of censorship.

The United States—the world leader in incarceration, imprisoning 2.2 million at this very moment—is fixated on free speech, but we favor the adjective over the verb. Prisons throughout the country are banning books that disagree with the racial disparity in U.S. prisons, the prison-industrial complex, and other incisive critiques of mass incarceration. And some are banning books altogether: one Georgia jail recently imposed a ban on all books, excluding only religious texts. Louisiana has banned non-Christian religious material, a decision that evidently violates the Constitutional provisions for religious freedom. Even the more liberal state of Washington forbade outsiders to make charitable book donations to prisons. Although the Washington Department of Corrections has rolled back the ban to accept donations from a small, specified list of charities, this compromise hardly changes the fact that WDOC only changed the rule because it couldn’t get away with it.

 

Books banned in Texas prisons, exceeding 15,000 total | Image Via Washington Post

 

Recently, the Arizona Department of Corrections has banned Chokehold, a non-fiction work exploring the role of race within the criminal justice system. Written by a former prosecutor, the book dispenses advice for black men and details the rights people can use to protect themselves (for example, during searches). While this may be unjust, it’s not unprecedented: North Carolina and Florida have banned The New Jim Crowanother book dedicated to exposing racism’s inextricable link to mass incarceration.

This past week, the American Civil Liberties Union formally addressed the issue, requesting that Arizona overturn this ban. An excerpt from the letter explains the hypocrisy inherent in the ban:

The very people who experience extreme racial disparity in incarceration cannot be prohibited from reading a book whose purpose is to examine and educate about that disparity. Improving understanding of policing, incarceration, and racial bias is especially critical given Arizona’s stark racial disparities and overall high rates of incarceration.

Advocates have pointed out the practical issues with these bans, those that transcend moral or ethical arguments. There is no budgetary component to book-donation charities, meaning that there are no financial consequences for allowing these charities to stock prison libraries. It’s also likely that incarcerated people will not spend their entire lives in prison. Given that the average prison sentence is three years, state departments of correction should assume that most of these people will return to society. Shouldn’t we want them to be emotionally healthy when they do? Shouldn’t we want them to be educated?

Under the First Amendment, only books which would actively endanger the prison or the people in it are eligible for bans. This clause would, for example, bar a non-fiction work that might detail how to make explosives or weaponry. The intent is purely physical rather than psychological; ostensibly, there is no danger to society in allowing prisoners to understand the judicial system that keeps them confined. But there is a danger to the system that imprisons them.

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Video Blocks.

batman robert pattinson

Is Robert Pattinson the Next Batman?

The next Batman is Robert Pattinson. Or, at least, he’s at the top of Warner Bros.’ shortlist to fill the role. Whether this is good news, bad news, or even terrible news for Batman or Twilight fans, this is a lot to take in. And it feels like the Batfleck casting all over again (which, by the way, I supported).

Variety reported the shocking news just last night. Sources say that the casting is not yet a done deal, but negotiations are currently taking place.

 

batman robert pattinsonImage via Hindustan Times

 

Pattinson is expected to play a younger Batman in DC’s cinematic universe, and, if cast, he will feature in the prequel-solo film that Matt Reeves (Planet of the Apes) is writing and directing.

While Pattinson may never completely leave behind his Twilight fame and notoriety, he admittedly has gone from vampire heartthrob to arthouse star, delivering acclaimed performances in High Life, The Lost City of Z, and Good Time. The actor—who was, of course, a decade younger and less experienced in his Twilight days—will also have a role in Christopher Nolan’s next feature, which will arrive in 2020.

 

batmanImage via IMDb

 

Utilizing Pattinson’s onscreen romance experience wouldn’t be unwelcome either, actually. Given that the upcoming film will bring us back to the caped crusader’s early days, an adaptation of the most underrated Batman story of all time, Mask of the Phantasm, would be a great opportunity to showcase the Batman’s most genuine romance with young love interest Andrea Beaumont while also establishing his origin in the DCEU.

 

batfleckImage via Polygon

 

In fact, this would be one of the only acceptable routes for the production to take––especially since Ben Affleck will no longer be delivering a solo film with the epic, aged, and legendary Batman that won fans over. If Pattinson can deliver a follow-up performance that stuns as much as Affleck’s, then the DCEU is in good hands.

The Batman will arrive June 25, 2021.

 

 

 

Featured Image via Daily Superheroes