Asawin Suebsaeng

Asawin Suebsaeng

Reporter

Asawin Suebsaeng is a reporter at the Washington, DC, bureau of Mother Jones. He has also written for The American Prospect, the Bangkok Post, and Shoecomics.com.

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A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., Asawin came back to DC with hopes of putting his flimsy Creative Writing major, student newspaper tenure, and interest in human rights and political chicanery to some use. He started cutting his teeth at F&M's student-run weekly, The College Reporter, serving as editor in chief. He has interned at The American Prospect, been a reporter for the Bangkok Post, and scribbled for ShoeComics.com. His favorite movie is either Apocalypse Now or Pirahna 3D, depending on the day or mood.

Obama Lookalike Satan Character Axed From Jesus Movie "Son of God"

| Tue Feb. 18, 2014 1:30 PM PST

Last March, when the 10-hour miniseries The Bible premiered on History channel, many observers (including Glenn Beck) noted that Satan (played by Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni):

...resembled Barack Obama:

Barack Obama
Elizabeth Cromwell/Wikimedia Commons

The internet had some fun with this, and the meme was especially funny when you considered the insane theories already out there that Obama was put on earth to do Satan's bidding. Anyway, History, Ouazanni, and producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett all rolled their eyes at the Obama comparisons. "Both Mark and I have nothing but respect and love [for] our president, who is a fellow Christian," Downey said in March. "False statements such as these are just designed as a foolish distraction to try and discredit the beauty of the story of The Bible."

But in the abridged film version of The Bible (titled Son of God), which hits theaters next week, Satan won't be getting any screen time. "Someone made a comment that the actor who played the devil vaguely resembled our president, and suddenly the media went nuts," Downey, who also plays Mother Mary, told the Hollywood Reporter on Monday. Downey elaborated on this in a USA Today op-ed published later that day: "The next day, when I was sure everyone would only be talking about Jesus, they were talking about Satan instead," she wrote. "For our movie, Son of God, I wanted all of the focus to be on Jesus...It gives me great pleasure to tell you that the devil is on the cutting-room floor."

The White House did not respond to a request for comment regarding Devil Obama being dropped from the movie. Here is a clip, via THR, of Jesus (played by Diogo Morgado) meeting the allegedly presidential Satan in last year's miniseries:

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Actress Ellen Page Comes Out As Gay: "Happy Valentine's Day. I Love You."

| Sat Feb. 15, 2014 11:29 AM PST

Oscar-nominated actress and self-described "tiny Canadian" Ellen Page (Inception, The East, Juno) came out as a gay woman on Valentine's Day.

She made the announcement in a moving speech delivered at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's inaugural Time to Thrive conference in Las Vegas. You can watch the 26-year-old actress's remarks above. Here is an excerpt:

I'm inspired to be in this room because every single one of you is here for the same reason. You're here because you've adopted as a core motivation the simple fact that this world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another. If we took just 5 minutes to recognize each other's beauty, instead of attacking each other for our differences. That's not hard. It's really an easier and better way to live. And ultimately, it saves lives.

Then again, it's not easy at all. It can be the hardest thing, because loving other people starts with loving ourselves and accepting ourselves. I know many of you have struggled with this. I draw upon your strength and your support in ways that you will never know.

I'm here today because I am gay. And because...maybe I can make a difference. To help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility.

I also do it selfishly, because I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission. I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered and my relationships suffered. And I'm standing here today, with all of you, on the other side of that pain. I am young, yes, but what I have learned is that love, the beauty of it, the joy of it and yes, even the pain of it, is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being. And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.

There are too many kids out there suffering from bullying, rejection, or simply being mistreated because of who they are. Too many dropouts. Too much abuse. Too many homeless. Too many suicides. You can change that and you are changing it.

But you never needed me to tell you that. That's why this was a little bit weird. The only thing I can really say is...what I have been building up to for the past 5 minutes. Thank you. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for giving me hope, and please keep changing the world for people like me.

Happy Valentine's Day. I love you.

After her speech, Page received the following show of support from House of Cards star Kate Mara:

(As flagged by TheWrap, Page satirized lesbian rumors about her in a 2008 Saturday Night Live sketch.)

Page is set to star alongside Julianne Moore and Zach Galifianakis in Freeheld, an upcoming drama based on the true story of the late Laurel Hester, a terminally ill New Jersey police lieutenant who fought a long battle to pass on pension benefits to her female domestic partner. Page, a proud feminist, has long been a supporter of marriage equality and LGBT rights. She is also passionate about climate action, reproductive rights, and raising awareness about human rights abuses in Burma. Here's a video for the US Campaign for Burma from 2008, in which she declares, "Hitler is alive in Burma":

Watch This DJ Respond to a Rapper Who Threatens to Rape a Woman

| Fri Feb. 14, 2014 7:46 AM PST

On Monday, a young and rowdy crowd gathered at The Jump Off in London for an old-fashioned rap battle. Everyone was hoping for a good time, an evening free of any publicly declared threats of back-alley rape of women.

Then this happened:

The man you see intervening (at the 31-second mark) is Nihal Arthanayake. He is a 42-year-old BBC Radio presenter, DJ, and family man. His artistic and professional influences include Mos Def, Bill Withers, Jon Stewart, and Mark Ronson. He hosts shows devoted to discussing and debating the issues facing British Asians. He interviews a wide variety of guests, including Fatima Khan, mother of a British doctor who died while being held in custody in Syria. Nihal has also occasionally stepped in controversy.

He can also rap—and on Monday, he put that skill to particularly good use. During the rap battle, MC Lighte The Boom Box said to his female opponent MC D'Klastro that, "bitch, after this, in the alley, you gonna get raped." This did not seem to go over well with the audience, and seconds later, Nihal (who was a judge at the event) interrupted the battle, got on-stage, and grabbed a mic. Here's part of what he said:

What the fuck, you fat idiot?

Didn't you have a mum? Didn't you have a sister? Why you so dumb?

Misogynistic prick. Talking, you think you're sick.

The video of this was picked up later in the week by several news outlets, such as Jezebel, the Independent, and Entertainmentwise. Nihal says that this was the first time he has ever had to halt a rap battle out of pure outrage.

"That was unique," he tells me. "And, as I haven't rhymed properly for over 15 years, I proved I was a little rusty, to say the least."

Nihal says that the response to the video has been positive, save for "a few men [on Twitter] questioning my rap skills...and calling me names for being so sensitive to a rape-based battle rap." He says he has not interacted with Lighte The Boom Box since Monday's battle, nor does he wish to.

"I said what I had to say," Nihal says. "I'm not a white knight (guess I'd be a brown one anyway), nor a hero, nor a feminist. Just a husband and a father who has spoken to many victims of domestic violence in my job as a phone-in host for the BBC...I just thought about the women in my life and that the male MC had betrayed rap music by resorting to something so base and disgusting. I'm not a prude, I grew up on rap music. But raping a woman as a battle lyric—that's just nonsense."

"The crowd reaction told you that even in the most urban of environments that type of lyric won't fly anymore," he added.

Watch Sports Anchor Dale Hansen Destroy People Who Don't Want to Let Gay People Play in the NFL

| Wed Feb. 12, 2014 10:40 PM PST

That was sports anchor Dale Hansen, on ABC's Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate WFAA, discussing University of Missouri All-American defensive end Michael Sam on Monday. Sam announced on Sunday that he is gay; the National Football League has never had an openly gay player, and Sam's announcement—which came just weeks before draft-eligible players like Sam are put through the paces in front of team executives and scouts—has been hailed as remarkably brave.

You can read the full transcript of Hansen's comments here, but here's an excerpt:

Several NFL officials are telling Sports Illustrated it will hurt him on draft day because a gay player wouldn't be welcome in an NFL locker room. It would be uncomfortable, because that's a man's world.

You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs, pulling her hair out by the roots? You're the fourth guy taken in the NFL draft.

You kill people while driving drunk? That guy's welcome.

Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes? We know they're welcome.

Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away?

You lie to police trying to cover up a murder?

We're comfortable with that.

You love another man? Well, now you've gone too far.

It wasn't that long ago when we were being told that black players couldn't play in "our" games because it would be "uncomfortable." And even when they finally could, it took several more years before a black man played quarterback.

Because we weren't "comfortable" with that, either.

So many of the same people who used to make that argument (and the many who still do) are the same people who say government should stay out of our lives.

But then want government in our bedrooms.

I've never understood how they feel "comfortable" laying claim to both sides of that argument.

"The world needs more old white guys like WFAA's Dale Hansen," the Dallas Observer declared on Wednesday.

Hansen has been around for a long time and this certainly isn't the first time he's delivered thoughtful commentary. In 2011, at the height of the Sandusky affair at Penn State, he spoke up for the victims of childhood sexual abuse who stay "hidden in the darkness." In the segment, Hansen opened up about being the victim of sexual assault—and how he remained silent about it for years. Watch:

This Video of a Marriage Break-Up Done Entirely in Movie Titles Is Pretty Great

| Wed Feb. 12, 2014 4:14 PM PST

This sketch features a couple breaking up, with dialogue constructed exclusively from 154 film titles. (Liar Liar, The Man Who Wasn't There, Unfaithful, and Whore are included.) The video—made by the Brooklyn-based, five-member comedy troupe POYKPAC—stars Ryan Hunter, Jenn Lyon, and Maggie Ross.

"It started to seem like there was this period where all these movies kept coming out with names like How Do You Know and Rumor Has It..., and they were mostly romantic comedies," Hunter, who also wrote and directed "Movie Title Breakup," tells me. It took him two days to write the sketch—staring at his computer, searching through IMDb for applicable titles. "It was almost as if Hollywood was running out of names to call movies, so they started using phrases—like we were trending toward a world where every human phrase ever said was going to be the name of a movie."

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