+
Most Shared

It was a big, history-making weekend for black filmmakers. Here's why that matters.

For the first time ever, black filmmakers with $100M+ budgets landed the top two box office spots.

It was a great weekend at the box office for Disney — and an even better one for black filmmakers.

Director Ava DuVernay's "A Wrinkle in Time" opened at the #2 slot over the weekend, bringing in more than $33.3 million, behind the $41.6 million earned by "Black Panther."

What makes this such a big deal?


For one, it's the first time that two films by black directors with more than $100 million budgets took home the #1 and #2 slots at the box office — ever.

Additionally, "Black Panther" joined a very exclusive club in its fourth weekend in theaters, hitting $1 billion total in worldwide box office receipts, a feat that just 32 other films in all of cinematic history have accomplished.

[rebelmouse-image 19398046 dam="1" original_size="750x319" caption="Image via "A Wrinkle in Time"/Disney/YouTube." expand=1]Image via "A Wrinkle in Time"/Disney/YouTube.

"Black Panther" director Ryan Coogler recently wrote an essay about "A Wrinkle in Time" and why representation matters.

"Ava is the past, present, and future," wrote Coogler in a flattering ESPNW blog post. "She is all of these things, but sometimes I forget she is human."

Heaping well-earned praise on DuVernay for "adapting a book that many people called unfilmable," Coogler touched on why it's so important for everyone to be able to see people who look like them in the movies.

"But above all, it's a film about a little black girl with glasses — like my mom, like my wife, like my big sister Ava — who refuses to accept that her dad is lost. The main character in the film, Meg, uses her love, her hope, and her kickass skills as a scientist to bring him back, and maybe she saves the universe along the way."

[rebelmouse-image 19398047 dam="1" original_size="750x469" caption="Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler arrive at the world premiere of "A Wrinkle in Time." Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney." expand=1]Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler arrive at the world premiere of "A Wrinkle in Time." Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney.

For too long, marginalized filmmakers simply haven't been given a chance to helm big-budget blockbusters. DuVernay and Coogler's successes might change that.

It's interesting to see what we've determined to be the "default" in popular culture. The majority of big-name movies are written and directed by men (usually white); they also overwhelmingly star men (again, usually white). Over time, our culture has simply accepted this as the default, and anything that challenges this is viewed as suspect.

One example that comes to mind is a tweet from Grace Randolph, a film critic who runs the YouTube page Beyond the Trailer. In late February, Randolph tweeted out a photo of the "A Wrinkle in Time" poster, writing, "This is a GREAT poster — but don't they want little boys to see this too ... ?"

The poster shows a silhouette of actress Storm Reid's Meg, surrounded by a burst of colors. It's breathtaking, and as Randolph said, "a GREAT poster."

So why is the immediate reaction that a movie featuring a young girl is somehow alienating young boys? People (especially women) of color, women generally, disabled people, and LGBTQ individuals have always been expected to overcome their differences from what they see portrayed in the media, and it's fascinating to see what happens anytime that same expectation is placed on the default.

If someone can understand why a poster or a movie that doesn't center this default audience might alienate that group, then it shouldn't be too hard to understand why it's so necessary to create art that targets those outside of it.

[rebelmouse-image 19398048 dam="1" original_size="750x311" caption="Image via "A Wrinkle in Time"/Disney/YouTube." expand=1]Image via "A Wrinkle in Time"/Disney/YouTube.

Not every film by a marginalized person will be a box-office smash, and that's OK.

What's important is that studios are finally coming to realize that stories told by (and even, occasionally, primarily for) underrepresented groups have big earning potential and can be some of the finest art in the world — especially when combined with the budgets and resources so often allocated to films helmed by white men.

Studios should let marginalized people tell their stories, encourage them to take chances, and show the rest of us what we've been missing out on all these years.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

Keep ReadingShow less
All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
Keep ReadingShow less