Once upon a time, musicals only provided entertainment and an escape from reality. But today, they can also enlighten us!

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: At first glance, the film opening of "In The Heights" is all about the excitement of song and dance in the grand tradition of musicals, something that Red absolutely loves, whether live theater or a movie; but Black sees musicals not only as business ventures but as a reflection of the times.


The movie premiere of the multiple Tony-award-winning Broadway musical "In The Heights" was delayed by COVID-19 (it seems "everything" was delayed) and now is premiering in movie theatres and also streaming on HBO-Max. Red can't wait to see it on the big screen as she's desperate to go back to the movies, and since she loves musicals, it's a definite win-win. (And that doesn't include the popcorn!)

Black, on the other hand, has a different interest in the movie,

I know you do not want to hear about the business logic behind jointly releasing and streaming movies, so I will focus on how "In The Heights" has broken dramatically with how Latinx are usually portrayed. Instead of stereotyping the characters in supporting or minor roles, it has created an authentic story and starring roles. Not only has that expanded the target audience, but it shows how we all, regardless of ethnicity or background, have dreams, aspirations, and struggles.

But while the musical, which Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote before he went on to the phenomenal success of "Hamilton, the Musical," is considered ground-breaking in its positive focus on Latinx, it has still managed to draw criticism for a lack of dark-skinned Afro-Latino actors in both the general cast and especially the more prominent roles.

And while Miranda has responded that he "can hear the hurt and frustration" and is "truly sorry," it wasn't the first time a Latinx-themed musical was criticized for colorism, albeit it had been decades, as Red (the former theater major) points out,

"West Side Story" (both the play and the movie) was criticized for having a mostly white cast wearing dark make-up and speaking with accents. At the time, authenticity obviously wasn't important, as in the movie even Natalie Wood's singing was not hers, they dubbed in an opera singer. However, it was ground-breaking in that it broke the mold of "happy" musicals where everyone lived happily-ever-after by having lead characters "killed off" in front of the audience's eyes.

Just talking about "West Side Story" brings back memories, but since Steven Spielberg will be releasing a remake later this year, we'll have plenty of time to reminisce.

It’s hard to believe the topic of the Supreme Court and abortion could become any more controversial or dramatic. But there was no way to know a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade would be leaked to the press. A situation so shocking, it’s being compared to the "Pentagon Papers" leak.

Yes, leaks happen all the time in politics – at the campaign level, sometimes from Congress, and even on occasion from the executive branch. But from the Supreme Court of the United States??? Yet as Black said to Red just after it happened,

Nowadays, it is just too easy to have a “leak” as almost everything is just a “click away” from being shared or printed. No clandestine nights at the copy machine are required.

There’s an expression … throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Well, Supreme Court decisions on “babies” (well, technically fetuses) may also impact its integrity.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: There’s no question the recent Supreme Court cases involving abortion are controversial and may have a major impact on Roe v. Wade; something that both Red (as a mom to two daughters) and Black (as a highly independent woman who made the conscious decision not to have children) have strong feelings about, albeit focused on two very different aspects.

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If you’ve never thought about May Day, don’t worry, most of us haven’t.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red appreciates that some holidays have historical significance, some have ancient traditions, and some are opportunities for one of Black’s unexpected, but often amusing and clever, comments, but May Day checks all those boxes.

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To quote the lyrics from "West Side Story," “Could be … who knows …”

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red, the theater major and lover of Broadway musicals, has loved "West Side Story" for as long as she can remember, so imagine her surprise when Black, usually only interested in the business aspects of the entertainment world, shared a “new” fact (at least, new to Red) about one of the most popular musicals ever produced.

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