Dr. Strange

Benedict Cumberbatch in 'Dr. Strange'

Dr. Strange might find himself in multiple universes, but probably not in Saudi Arabia.

Marvel’s follow-up to their 2016 hit starring Benedict Cumberbatch is set to introduce a new character named America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez. In addition to being able to punch holes through the multiverse (nifty power), America is openly gay in the comics and will be represented similarly in the film.

The Guardian reported that Saudi Arabia, which regards homosexuality as a capital offense, has asked Disney to cut “LGBTQ references” before screening. Egypt and Kuwait have already prohibited the movie.

Nawaf Alsabhan, Saudi Arabia’s general supervisor of cinema classification, told the Guardian that the cuts would amount to “barely 12 seconds” and include America referring to her “two moms,” but noted even that arguably-minute portion of the film would be “very tough to pass” according to the kingdom’s standards.

So far, Disney has refused the request. And it doesn’t look like they’re backing down.


Though the movie has not been officially banned, it would not be the first Marvel film to be stripped from Saudi Arabia’s theaters. In November 2021, “The Eternals” was not released and was removed from websites due to portraying a same-sex couple. The two married characters, Phastos (Brian Henry) and Ben (Haaz Sleiman) share a kiss. And only one month later, Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” suffered the same fate for having a nonbinary character.

Disney has received an increasing amount of attention (both in the form of praise and criticism) for its role in LGBTQ advocacy.



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On the one hand, the franchise offers an ever increasing amount of representation not only for the LGBTQ community, but for other marginalized, underrepresented groups. On the other hand, fans have also expressed feelings of betrayal over the company previously donating money to Republicans who supported Florida's so-called “Don’t Say Gay.” Some Pixar employees also came forward claiming the majority of inclusive scenes featured in the animated film “Turning Red” had been cut by studio executives.

So, is Disney’s refusal to cut these scenes from "Dr. Strange 2" simply pandering in order to maintain some kind of “woke” image? The film’s lead doesn’t seem to think so. In a press tour for the movie, Cumberbatch shared how the “expected disappointment“ of the ban further emphasized the necessity for inclusion.

“We’ve come to know from those repressive regimes that their lack of tolerance is exclusionary to people who deserve to be not only included, but celebrated for who they are and made to feel part of a society and a culture and not punished for their sexuality,” he said. “It feels truly out of step with everything that we’ve experienced as a species, let alone where we’re at globally more as a culture, but frankly, it’s just even more reason why this isn’t tokenism to include an LGBTQ+ community member."

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” promises a journey across alternate realities while confronting power foes. Hopefully by Disney maintaining its stance, we will get closer to our very own reality where there is more tolerance and compassion.

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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