Reflections on Dualism in Blade Runner 2049

Is it possible to know what it is like to want to be desired or loved, without a soul? This thought-provoking question is grappled with throughout the film Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017). The protagonist Officer K (Ryan Gosling) is a Nexus-9 replicant who works for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and secretly yearns for real humanity, at least within his programmed limits. His love interest (Ana de Armas as Joi) is but a hologram, yet in her final moments, she attempts to utter the words “I love you.” Before she can finish, her virtual presence is wiped from existence, her data permanently destroyed. Continue reading Reflections on Dualism in Blade Runner 2049

Reclaiming Empathy: A Film Review of “Grave of the Fireflies”

One of the blessings in art – one that appears to be lost in the spirit of the Western Muslim – is that it allows us to find new ways to question and reflect upon our personal states. With respect to cinema, despite the countless films and genres that appear to celebrate all manners of excess including senseless violence and gore, there are those that utilize these motifs to invite reflection from the audience. One such film is the Japanese animation Grave of the Fireflies. Continue reading Reclaiming Empathy: A Film Review of “Grave of the Fireflies”

Mukbangs and a Culture of Gluttony

Watching someone succumb to their food cravings in grotesque fashion has provoked different reactions; some are hypnotized by the concept, some are repulsed, and some are simply confused. But overall, eating shows have become more or less normalized. What does this say about a new global culture, where a trend in one part of the world can be catapulted worldwide by the strength of American content creation? What are the consequences? What does our Islamic tradition have to say about eating shows? Continue reading Mukbangs and a Culture of Gluttony

The Fine Line: A Film Critique of Doucouré’s “Cuties”

Even before Maïmouna Doucouré’s Cuties, or Mignonnes in French, was released on Netflix, it ignited international debate. The trailer alone provoked huge controversy for the film’s questionable use of minors, representation of minorities, and framing of Islam. Although raw emotion and knee-jerk reactions can be impulsively misleading and hinge on mob mentality, they may also be incredibly revealing. The instinctual response to a film says a lot about how well it conveys its message appropriately. Continue reading The Fine Line: A Film Critique of Doucouré’s “Cuties”

The Importance of Being Rugged

Understandably, given the unwanted publicity Muslim women attract in the West as wearers of the hijab, there is a great deal of English-language literature discussing femininity and the role of women in Islam, but a dearth of similar resources discussing masculinity and appropriate male pursuits from an Islamic perspective. InshaAllah, this article is an attempt to level this discrepancy, and reintroduce the long-forgotten artifacts of our rugged tradition into the Western Muslim consciousness. Continue reading The Importance of Being Rugged