Notes: The following post will mention childhood abuse (and who gets to have that kind of trauma respected/made up for them to give them weight and validate their actions) and spoilers from the film and novelization versions of The Last Jedi as well as mild spoilers for Last Shot. Images come from StarWarsScreenCaps.Com. More care has gone […]
This is one of the aspects of fandom culture that actually plays out in real life situations, where White male mass killers are given sympathetic backstories to excuse their murderous behavior. It’s also something that plays out in a lot of other fandoms besides Star Wars. It seems White people have a near pathological, and reflexive, urge to excuse the shitty behavior of White men, whether they are real or fictional.
Audre Lorde perhaps put this best when she wrote, “Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.”
*On how movies about Black pain are only viewed by White audiences as a substitute for the actual work of eliminating White Supremacy, and how Black lives would be better served, if we stopped using up all our energy on appealing to White people to actually care about their fellow human beings.
Think of all the possibilities that exist should we invest in one another and divest entirely from the practice of curating white “empathy”
*Feminism is not about liking other women, and supporting their bullshit, no matter what. That’s not the definition. If you call yourself a feminist and you hold some shitty non-intersectional views, or are just a moron, you’re going to get called on it.
Because feminism does not dictate that you are required to like every stupid woman you encounter. Feminism isn’t a hot air balloon designed to lift already privileged ladies to new joyful heights. Those women are thinking of “girl power” or “bootyliciousness” or “domestic feminism”—some other term that was intended to act as a milquetoast substitute for actual feminism.
*In this review of Get Out, the author discuses Black people’s reactions to danger in movies, vs White people’s reactions to the danger.
As I write this review, it has been five years since the horrific and cold-blooded murder of Trayvon Martin. When a car ominously pulls up alongside André and stops, we — people of color and horror fans — collectively hold our breath because we recognize the signal for danger. But for white audiences, that frisson is the delicious fear of the unknown. For POC, it’s precisely the opposite — the threat we see is all too well-known. It’s for that reason that Andre’s abrupt turnaround with a “No. Not today. You know how they be doing motherfuckers out here!” is so satisfying.
*Til this point, I have largely been ignoring The Purge films ,because the first movie was such a poorly executed idea, that I couldn’t get past that. But now, the movies are starting to explicitly address the gender, class, and racial issues that I found dis-satisfyingly absent from that first movie.
In The First Purge we are given the racialialized backstory of the first three movies. The Purge movies turn out to be not so much about purging society’s urge to commit evil, as it is about rich White people purging society of marginalized people.
Here, in this review of The Purge Anarchy, some of the details of this world are fleshed out a bit more, and they are, quite frankly, horrifying.
Both of these scenes highlight for me the interrelationship between class and race and the exploitative powers of a system that only reifies the lasting order and undervalues the lives of poor and minority bodies. In this film, both the rich and the government specifically target and kill blacks, the homeless, deviants, and youth in an attempt to eradicate and “purge” the society of perceived evils. This movie asks us all to reflect on who is in power, what oppressive acts are they committing, and who does society really serve. Both the murderers and the white families who can afford to lock up and hide are complicit in the exploitation and eradication of people deemed unworthy of life… Who gets to define who is worthy of life? Who gets to define how punishment is laid out? Who is in control of our streets, our livelihoods, our identities as targets or as civilians?
*The abuse of Asian women in popular media continues. I really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy 2 , a lot, but what I couldn’t get behind, was the treatment of Mantis. It was just wrong. I know the writers thought it was funny, but that’s how I know there were no Asian people in the writing room, because they would have pointed out what the constant abuse, of this stereotypically submissive Asian woman, looked like. for the record, I loved the character, because she’s just really sweet, but her treatment by the other characters made me very, very, uncomfortable.
There are also other issues with how Asians are portrayed in media. First, if seen at all, Asian characters are almost either Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Indian. There are forty-eight different countries in Asia, so it is unfair and inaccurate to assume that all Asians are east Asians or Indian. Next, as Thai-American actor Pun Bandhu stated about Asian characters portrayed, “We’re the information givers. We’re the geeks. We’re the prostitutes. We’re so sick and tired of seeing ourselves in those roles.” Asians are associated with certain roles, so as a result, it is very hard to see change in the roles Asians play.
There is no nuanced relationship between Ego and Mantis — just a master who demands his servant ease his pain of loneliness by helping him fall asleep. She dutifully does as she’s asked, because she does not know that there is another way of life.
Mantis’s journey to joining the Guardians can be credited mostly to her “friendship” with a character who takes advantage of her innocence. Although Drax protects her from physical harm and Mantis helps Drax to access his buried pain about his lost wife and children, it isn’t enough to lessen the impact of his verbal abuse. Mantis’s past is a blank slate: She is an orphan, possibly the last survivor of her race, trained to be the companion and servant of Ego…Ego’s evil “expansion” plan is imperialistic, only adding to the subtext that Mantis is a colonized figure and one of his first casualties. She is educated by him, molded into, as she puts it, “a flea with a purpose.” Much of her character in the film is centered around her subordination; even though part of her storyline is breaking free from Ego’s control, that her friendship with Drax—the relationship that incites her rebellion against Ego—is built upon him insulting her isn’t much healthier.
*Another invisible thing in movies, is how different types of characters talk, and what they talk about, based on race. I thought this article was fascinating, and I’m surprised that someone tracked this, because it never occurred to me that characters of different races talk about different things, and that what they talk about adheres so closely to stereotypes about that race!
They found that the language used by female characters tended to be more positive, emotional and related to family values, while the language used by male characters was more closely linked to achievement. African-American characters were more likely to use swear words, and Latino characters were more apt to use words related to sexuality. Older characters, meanwhile, were more likely to discuss religion.
*I’m a little dubious about reading this book because I don’t know if WoC will be characters, and how they’ll be treated. Since this book is written by a White woman, I’m pretty sure that the treatment of men of color, by White women, who now have the power to harm them, is not going to be addressed, and for some reason that makes me very nervous about reading it.
White authors have a very long history of not addressing White racial resentment, or including it as a factor, in fantasy and science fiction narratives. White feminists generally never mention it at all. This book references male oppression but White feminism refuse to acknowledge that men of color are not the ones oppressing White women, and in fact it is White women who already hold the power in that dynamic. I’m also certain that the point of view of Black women (who actually are oppressed by men of color) won’t be addressed either.
From the many reviews I’ve read, the book does address power imbalances, and how the women who are now in potions of power, simply replicate the old power dynamics that men created, bullying, torturing, and killing others. It is not mentioned if the women fight among themselves, since women are not a monolith, and even now, there are women who will fight to uphold patriarchal systems. I do not know if transgender women, (or people who identify as non-binary) are taken into account in the story.
Rage and the desire for revenge against male oppressors, however, has emerged in women’s dystopian writing during periods of feminist protest and uprising. We can see it during the first wave of the suffrage movement. Inez Haynes Gillmore, an American writer and suffragist, wrote, “When the first militant in England threw the first brick my heart flew with it. Thereafter I was a firm believer in militant tactics.” In principle, Gillmore believed, militant women should use the actions that had always worked for men: “rebellion and violence.” Yet she was also thinking about suicide as a suffragist tactic in practice:
Here we are now, in the wake of Wonder Woman, and we find ourselves amidst these familiar conversations once again, and once again we are reminded that feminist realizations in major U.S. action films thus far have largely been for and about white women…
…And the ease with which Wonder Woman fans are able to ignore healthy critiques of the film and its star reflects how mainstream feminism and feminist solidarity have always been for and about white women.
*I’m a big fan of Kim Coles, both as an actress and a comedian, and it was a lot of fun to read this interview, so many years after her star turn in the show Living Single.
… in the 1990s, the wealth of black representation on television could lull you into thinking (if you turned the channel from Rodney King taking more than 50 blows from Los Angeles Police Department batons) that black lives actually did matter. But almost all of these shows were, in varying ways, an extension of segregated America. It’s there in the memories of the stars below: There were “black shows” and there were “white shows.” If you were a black actor appearing on a white show, you were usually alone.
A diverse writers’ rooms matter as much as the show’s cast. It is imperative that we continue to critique both the shows and movies we love until they properly reflect the world we are living in—and the people who live in this world. The fictional characters I love shouldn’t have to eclipse their sun to shine.
*The styles of oppression and stereotype faced by White and Black women are just different. so we require different ways of addressing them.
Women of color have emphatically not been flooded with images of being treated as princesses and beloved love interests. The emotionally resilient, invulnerable, no-nonsense woman is all we are often allowed to be in media. We’re used to seeing roles where the women of color are expected to stare death and torment in the face with nary a single tear shed. We’re used to being expected to shoulder some great burden with no complaint. We often see ourselves play stoic bodyguards, hardened leaders, and calculating assassins who will do whatever it takes to survive. Rarely do women of color — particularly Black women — get to see themselves portrayed as precious, beautiful, and in need of protection. Rarely do we see films where we aren’t automatically expected to save ourselves.
*Michael Burnham, of Star Trek Discovery, has become my new favorite hero.
Discovery normalizes a black female hero in space. Evading the extremes of paragon and pariah, the show gives us a nuanced figure and places her at the very centre of the story. Few SF shows have ever tried to do this. The only example that comes to mind is the short-lived Extant, which also aired on CBS. But Extant was never really a space show and it never gained traction with audiences. So until Discovery came along, the primary model for black women in space (even empowered black women) was a sidekick. Shows like Doctor Who, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica include wonderful black female characters but always as secondary players. By casting a black woman as the lead, Discovery is unprecedented in the Star Trek franchise and extraordinary for SF television.
*An interview with the Author of Where No Black Woman Has Gone Before, discussing how WoC are treated in science fiction media.
As an associate professor of English at Denison University, Diana Adesola Mafe makes her stride in the resistance where she teaches courses in postcolonial, gender, and Black studies. Her newest published endeavor is described to include “in-depth explorations of six contemporary American and British films and shows, this pioneering volume spotlights Black female characters who play central, subversive roles in science fiction, fantasy, and horror.” We were able to steal her away for a moment from her busy schedule where she is currently teaching a few classes to pick her brain about Where No Black Woman Has Gone Before and how it came to be.
Black Nerd Problems: Diana, thank you so much for making time in your busy schedule for us! First things first, presentation is everything. I love the book cover art and the title! The cover features a Black woman in a sci-fi type setting, centered in the middle of it all. I’m a visual learner so this image speaks to me before I even read a single page. Centering a Black woman is a very deliberate step in analyzing different collective portrayals of Black women especially when we are subjected to not being a leading lady in many mainstream projects. And it doesn’t go over my head that she’s a beautiful dark skinned Black woman, as European beauty standards have really amped up colorism. What input did you have on your cover and why was imperative to have imagery that aligns with who you are and your book’s content?
Diana Mafe: I’m so glad you mention the book cover! Despite the old adage about not judging books by their covers, book covers are an entry point to a text (much like titles) and they can send a powerful message even before you flip to the first page. I’m pleased to say that I had considerable input on the cover, which speaks to the flexibility of the University of Texas Press. I chose the image and filled out a questionnaire that allowed me to weigh in on things like design and color.
I remember spending several afternoons and evenings combing through online images in an attempt to find something that captured the spirit of the book. This meant doing keyword searches by combining terms like “Black women,” “science fiction,” “space,” “superhero,” “Afrofuturism,” and so on. Eventually, I happened upon a photograph of a black female Iron Man as portrayed by the Liberian model Deddeh Howard. As soon as I saw it, I thought, that’s it—that’s the cover. Having a Black woman literally front and center is important because that, in many ways, is the point of the book. To do otherwise would (ironically) perpetuate the very erasure of black women that I’m trying to interrogate.
BNP: I’m also very much in my fangirl feels because I’m assuming your title, “Where No Black Woman Has Gone Before” is a nod to Star Trek’s “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. Granted your introduction is titled, “To Boldly Go” and you mention Nichelle Nichol’s pioneering Lt. Uhura as one of few early gateway representations of Black women.
I think this is totally appropriate as stunningly revolutionary as her presence was (and how rightfully she is an icon), I love how you also dig in deeper critically and mention the shortcomings of Star Trek to her character. In your final chapter, you dutifully return to Uhura’s more recent portrayal in the rebooted Star Trekfilms. I really like how you come back to speaking about the male gaze regarding Uhura, especially in her newer portrayal. How do you think this critique can serve as food for thought for Uhura’s next portrayal in the future whenever that happens?
DM: Your assumption about the title is correct—a definite nod to Star Trek. The same goes for subtitles like “To Boldly Go” and “Final Frontiers.” Because Nichelle Nichols’s Uhura is such a pioneering figure, the first Black female science fiction icon, it was appropriate to begin and end the book with her character. And since she has been rebooted in the new millennium, her character offers some insight into how far we have come in terms of black female representation onscreen.
But as I discuss in the book’s conclusion, the “new” Uhura (Zoe Saldana) is not especially radical. The Eurocentrism and phallocentrism of the original show carries over into the reboots. Of course, there are understandable limits to rebooting classic science fiction television and cinema—if you change the original too much, it becomes unrecognizable and thus defeats the point. So along with returning to and revamping classic narratives that we love, we also need to continue imagining entirely new narratives in which old molds are not merely stretched but broken.
For Uhura, that means more screen time, more dialogue, and more agency. The key is to preserve this beloved Black female character without also preserving her constraints. At the same time, it’s vital that shows like Star Trek create fresh characters. Here, the franchise has made a “giant leap for Black womankind” (I couldn’t resist one last space cliché) by debuting Star Trek: Discovery, which gives us Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), the first Black female lead in Star Trek history.
I’m fed up on Black pain in movies. To that end I have made a vow to never see another movie that involves the pain and degradation of a Black character enduring some historical wrong. I don’t need movies about that anymore. Those films served their place when we needed them, but we’re past that now. It’s time to start telling the ourselves, and the rest of the world, the hidden stories of our past, and the fictional power fantasy fictions we need.
I know my history. I can just read the most important stories, and yes, I know these stories are important, but Im getting old now, and I have had more than enough. Im tired of watching us be miserable in movies, to no purpose but allowing white people to empathize over how strong we were “back then”, and if one more Black person chides me about how important some tale of black desperation, pain, and misery is for me to see, I’m gonna give them some sharp words.
Black Panther was, for a lot of us, cold water in the desert. That’s part of the reason why so many of us reacted so incredibly strongly. It was a total escape from real life misery as well. Every shooting of an unarmed Black person hurts all of us. Every act of disrespect angers us. We can’t watch the news, read the papers ,or even go online without being subjected to the what-the- fuckery of bigoted assholes, or without a blood pressure spike.
And sometimes, we are just emotionally exhausted. Pain is exhausting.
But now there are other shows and movies out in the world, of Black people being beautiful, bulletproof, dramatic, powerful, mysterious, magical, smart, and funny, instead of yet another story about one of us screaming, crying, or begging in pain. I want to see Black lovers ride off into the sunset. I wanna see a group of Black ladies put their thing down on a trip to their favorite city. I want to see Black heroes save the world. I want to see Black fathers loving their little Black children, and giving them hugs. I want to see Black teenagers in silly romantic comedy love triangles. And yeah, I want to see us be Darth Vader style, mustache twirling villains, mean girls in high school, and mercenaries hustling for that green, too.
The sad topping of this shitty reality cake is that there really is a contingent of White people out there who do not like watching us be happy about anything, and took every opportunity they could, to shit on our excitement, before and after the Black Panther’s release. In the minds of such people, we must be punished and miserable, for being Black, with no reprieve, and they take great joy in performing this job they’ve given to themselves.
Yes, it’s just a movie. But sometimes it’s more. For two hours, I wasn’t subjected to trolling, microagressions, or slap in the face stereotypes, that came out of nowhere. I got to watch beautiful dark skinned women love, and be loved, have intelligent discussions, kick some ass, work together to save each other from harm, be integral to the plot, and not thrown into the movie as an afterthought. For me, Black Panther was everything Wonder Woman promised, but wasn’t.
We get pain everyday, especially in Trumps America where some people have felt emboldened to dish out their own personal little dabs of misery, but WE understand that pain is not ALL that we are, and we would like to see other facets of ourselves, in the movies, besides being able to endure being hurt.
I understand completely why people have gone to see Black Panther multiple times.
What stories do contemporary music videos tell about girls, women, boys, men, sexuality and gender? What are the cultural values portrayed? And from whose perspective? Dreamworlds encourages viewers to consider how these narratives shape individual and cultural attitudes about sexuality. Illustrated with hundreds of examples, the film accounts both the continuing influence of music videos and how popular culture generally filters the identities of young men and women through a narrow and dangerous set of myths about sexuality and gender; asking viewers to re-look at the images that have been normalised and meanings taken for granted throughout popular culture…
— Read on thoughtmaybe.com/dreamworlds-desire-sex-and-power-in-music-videos/
*Note: Video killed the radio star may be the lead in song to this video, but that may as well be replaced with “online porn killed the video star”, because many men have confessed that they get their misogynistic views about womanhood, and femininity, from watching online porn. Gamergaters, the Alt-Right, Incels, and others over the age of thirty five, have got most of their views of women from having grown up steeped in music video imagery, but younger men, are getting most of theirs ideas, about women today, from online pornography.
*Note: In the early 80s MTV came into existence and showed videos of mostly white musicians. They did not show videos by Black artists, until the later 80s. By that time a host of black teenagers/musicians had spent their sexually formative years watching those videos, and when they grew into stardom themselves, proceeded to emulate the same. treatment in their videos, that they saw in music videos that featured white artists. Not to say that Black artists didn’t engage in this sort of behavior in their music videos, but there is a marked difference between videos by black artists before the creation of MTV, and the videos being created by them after Yo!MTV Raps airs in the late 80s.
Note 3: I don’t think Gamergate existed when this video was made, but Sut Jjally essentially makes the exact same criticism of music videos that Anita Sarkeesian made about video games. In fact this video should be watched in conjunction with Sarkeesians criticisms, because take together, they outline just how steeped in misogynistic imagery of women so much of pop culture has been. Pop culture, in the form of music, movies, and gaming, for the past forty plus years, has been specifically created to pander to white male fantasies about power, sex, and control, and our entire culture has been steeped in these ideas about women for decades.
*Sometimes you get some interesting discussions to eavesdrop on over at Tumblr. This one is about how the western ideas of approaching the rest of the world always seem to depend on conquering and collecting other countries, and simply stealing the resources, rather than relying on trade.
People often forget that some five hundred years of history, after the fall of Rome, seemed to have consisted of endless warfare between the various city-states, that came into existence afterwards, and when they finished warring among themselves, they began to compete with each other for who could gather up most of the rest of the world and own it.
It almost seems like colonization, genocide, slavery, and conquest were the hideous byproducts of various European nations competing among themselves, to prove who was the more superior group of White people.
What’s galling is, while engaging in this behavior ,Europeans managed to displace their barbarity onto the backs of the people they conquered and destroyed, as a reason for conquering and destroying them. (Sounds familiar doesn’t it?)
What’s sad about this is that most White Westerners cannot conceive of any other way of approaching the rest of the world, except through dominance and submission. It is a philosophy that finds its way into everything from entertainment to politics.
It’s really hard for people to understand that everyone had boats, exploration, and trade interactions without the same level of murder, colonization, and violence that the Europeans did. It’s really hard for people to get that.
This is important for the knowledge/history aspect, but also because of what was said above, that exploration/seafaring/technological advancement does not automatically mean conquest, colonization, and genocide. It’s one of those myths that an annoyingly large amount of people pass around to justify white supremacy: that everybody wants to conquer and wipe out everybody else, and that white people just got the technology and exploration level up first to do it. They like this myth for several reasons: 1) it frames genocide, slavery, conquest, etc, as natural results of human development, SOMEBODY would have eventually done it regardless 2) it frames evil acts as “human nature”, it implies that the victims of those acts would have done them if they could, and that the people doing it were only acting on “nature” 3) it implies that because white people did these things therefore white people must have had the highest technological level and 4) because white people had the highest technological level therefore white people deserved their place in the world as conquerers and colonizers and enslavers.
Of course none of this is true, but it’s something our society likes to believe and the narrative is distributed through “common knowledge” and through our media, where non-white cultures in “historical” dramas are framed as “primitive” or warlike or both, and all the various dystopia fiction where “the oppressed become the oppressors” and what not (i.e. everybody wants to conquer everybody else, so SOMEBODY has to be on top).
*I want to get rid of the argument about “Historical Accuracy” when it comes to defending lack of diversity in fantasy worlds. That concept needs to be taken out back, and killed with fire, because I no longer want to hear that PoC did not contribute to the European historical record, and that somehow has relevance for their existence in fantasy worlds, that are based on particular European time periods.
“To put it yet another way, in my country where Dukes are actually a thing, there are a grand total of 30 (6 members of the Royal family, 24 others), and while the amount of Duchies in the Kingdom has varied a bit over the years, this number has remained relatively stable. By contrast, although I don’t have access to hard census data for the 19thcentury, Google reliably informs me that there were 2,651,939 people in London in 1851. And, if we take the extremely conservative estimate that only 0.1% of them were people of colour, that means that in the mid-19th century there were 2650 POCs in London compared to about 30 Dukes in the whole country.
So, from a certain perspective, a historical romance about a person of colour set in England in the mid-19th century is 88.3 times more plausible than one about a Duke. But because we’re used to seeing stories about Dukes in the 19th century and we aren’t used to seeing stories about people who aren’t white or heterosexual in the 19th century, stories about the absolutely tiny number of high ranking members of the landed aristocracy seem natural and normal to us while stories about the proportionally much larger number of marginalised people living in England at the time feel implausible or disorientating, even though they’re actually more reflective of the lives of real people.”
*This is about the devaluation of art done by women, and the prioritization of female nude art, created by, and for, a male audience. Bet you never gave this one much thought before, have you? Hell, I studied art for two decades, and it never occurred to me that the value of certain types of art is biased in favor of the male gaze.
Could the reason for 83 percent of the New York Metropolitan Museum’s nudes being female have anything to do with it being run predominately by men? And who collects art?Rich people, right? And who is rich enough to collect art?
*This particular discussion highlights how fashion does not exist in a vacuum. Clothing is just as political as any other part of our culture from hairstyles to music. This also ties into something discussed in an earlier post, about how, before the Civil Rights Movement, juvenile delinquency was coded as being White, (before that it was Italian and Latino) was heavily romanticized, and was almost never associated with Black teenagers. After the Civil Rights Act was passed, juvenile delinquency (and violence) became associated with Black and Brown youth exclusively, (reaching new heights during the nineties, with the invention of the Super-Predator.)
Greaser was a derogatory term for a Mexican in what is now the U.S. Southwest in the 19th century. The slur likely derived from what was considered one of the lowliest occupations typically held by Mexicans, the greasing of the axles of wagons; they also greased animal hides that were taken to California where Mexicans loaded them onto clipper ships (a greaser). It was in common usage among U.S. troops during the Mexican-American War.
why are greaser aesthetics still used to depict “bad boys” in art and media, when it hasn’t been that way since the 50s. this is a real mystery, i’m a serious scientist.
And the response:
it’s a so frustrating because greasers were originally Mexicans or other latinxs, or Italians – either by subculture reclaiming, or slur. “Greasers” started out as the object of white fear.
Ethnically, original greasers were mostly composed of mostly Italian Americans in the Northeastern United States and Chicanos in the Southwest. Since both of these peoples were mostly olive-skinned, the “greaser” label assumed a quasi-racial status that implied an urban lower class masculinity and delinquency. This development led to an ambiguity in the racial distinction between poor Italian Americans and Puerto Ricans in New York City in the 1950s and 1960s. Greasers were also perceived as being predisposed to perpetrating sexual violence, stoking fear among middle class males and arousal among middle class females.
What most people remember is NOT the actual era of the greasers, but instead the 60′s and 70′s “sanitization” of who they were, why they were stereotyped against, and why they were used as villains.
so before the 40′s-50′s, greaser was heavily used to portray a racist stereotype of a Mexican/Chicano man as violent/aggressive. (at least in media). This term also got used against some other latinxs in general, as well as Italians and sometimes Greeks. At least in hollywood this “greaser” type promoted mexicans as bad/dangerous and while also promoting latin lover stereotypes:
The Mexican Government soon objected to Hollywood’s portrayal of its citizens as “bandits and sneaks” and threatened to ban all films produced by companies which offended its people. This 1922 threat caused screenwriters to treat their neighbors to the south with more care. The “greaser” swiftly lost his Mexican nationality in the attempt to diffuse potential complaints, but his ghost still haunted new screenplays which concerned Hispanic characters.
Clever subterfuges often placed an unnamed “greaser” in a new locale. Rather than use the name of an actual country and risk offending its inhabitants, screenwriters began to create mythical cities and nations. “The Dove” (1928) provided an obvious example. The film concerned Don Jose Maria y Sandoval (Noah Beery), who considered himself “the bes’ damn caballero in Costa Roja.” Costa Roja, as the title cards explained, was situated in the Mediterranean!
Wikipedia mentions that the Mexican American community was then…investigated to see if they had ties to the Nazis. (Yeah.)
On June 21, 1943, the State Un-American Activities Committee, under state senator Jack Tenney, arrived in Los Angeles with orders to “determine whether the present Zoot Suit Riots were sponsored by Nazi agencies attempting to spread disunity between the United States and Latin-American countries.” Although Tenney claimed he had evidence the riots were “[A]xis-sponsored”, no evidence was ever presented to support this claim. […] In late 1944, ignoring the findings of the McGucken committee and the unanimous reversal of the convictions by the appeals court in the Sleepy Lagoon case on October 4, the Tenney Committee announced that the National Lawyers Guild was an “effective communist front.”
so that 1940′s look becomes this over time:
three Cholos showing off their outfits (1950′s). why? because zoot suits were deemed horrifically unamerican and “wasteful” during WWII.
but then ofc bitch ass racist white boys and motorcyles co-opted the look, add in a little bit of Travolta white washing of the radical pushback against racism in the origins of this stuff, and now we’re here.
I have been wondering about the depiction of Tony Stark in the MCU vs. the comic books. The comic book version of Tony has at least some redeeming qualities, much like the version in the Iron Man Trilogy. He’s not a great character in the trilogy, but he’s less awful than in The Avengers movies, for example.
When Tony is depicted in other movies in the MCU, besides his own, he’s often written as a callous, misogynist, asshole, who is thoroughly unlikable. For example, I got the impression that the Russo Brothers deeply dislike Tony Stark, because he doesn’t come off looking good in Civil War, at all, and even manages to look several degrees worse in Spiderman: Homecoming.
A lot of what this guy says about Tony’s lack of moral center, I already talked about, in an earlier post, comparing him to Steve Rogers. In that post I expressed some doubts about my assessment of Tony’s character, and its nice to know I wasn’t the only person getting that take.
This was something I specifically stated in my post:
*I have always wondered about this narrative, being put forth by the media, that these killers deserve sympathy because they were victims of a society that didn’t understand them. It turns out that they are, just as I suspected, mediocre, entitled ,white boys, who go on killing sprees because the world refuses to worship them for being the special snowflakes they believe themselves to be.
I like how she ties this into the racial aspect, where white men receive sympathy for killing others, (and the benefit of the doubt), but Black men who kill…don’t.
Also read up on the topic of “Wound Collectors, which is a fascinationg insight into how some mass killer’s minds work. Just about every mass killer, according to many of the writings they have left behind, seem to fit this dynamic.
These individuals use these wrongs, slights, or wounds, to then justify their beliefs or behaviors, or to help them deal with their own psychological or social distress. What is the definition of a wound collector or wound collecting?
Wound collecting is the conscious and systematic collection and preservation of transgressions, violations, social wrongs, grievances, injustice, unfair treatment, or slights of self and others, for the purpose of nourishing, fortifying, or justifying a malignant ideology, furthering hatred, satisfying a pathology, or for exacting revenge.
More on the point about Columbine: Eric Harris was actually a relatively popular kid. Not with the “popular kids” but, when it came to the more obscure cliques in the school, Harris was actually relatively well liked even for a kid who was, as was stated, an ACTUAL psychopath. Dylan Klebold was less popular, but only because he was more of a follower who mostly just wanted to hang around Harris.
Neither one of the Columbine shooters was bullied. They literally WERE the bullies.
Klebold’s own mother has been vocally debunking the narrative that they were bullied and “the real victims” for years. Her book, “A Mother’s Reckoning” is worth reading. It counters everything in the media. Kid was well off, wanted for nothing, wasn’t abused, neglected or bullied. What he was was radicalized by Harris, a neo-Nazi.
And just as “Walk Up” types don’t suggest showing compassion for poor Black or brown kid at risk of joining a gang, they don’t acknowldge that white radicalization is the root of a lot of America’s problems, more so than non-Westen radicalization that is readily accepted as dangerous.
Telling kids they should be kinder to the creepy kid who does Nazi salutes in the hallway is in fact making them more susceptible to radicalization. “Walk Up” is not only misguided, racist, misogynist and ableist, it makes things worse. Painting the Columbine shooters as the real victims set off the era of school shootings, and the more people call for more empathy toward angry white men who fit the profile (and again, in many cases these kids are actual neo-Nazis), the worse it gets.
Do your research properly or don’t have an opinion.
“According to Lee (2013), there are two leading causes of school shootings: bullying (87%), as well as both non-compliance and side effects from psychiatric drugs (12%). Most school shooters claimed or left evidence behind indicating that they were victims of severe and long-term bullying. The majority of bullying victims experienced feelings of humiliation, which resulted in thoughts of suicide or revenge (Lee, 2013). Additionally, of those school shooters who had been prescribed psychiatric medications, 10% displayed medication non-compliance (failed to take drugs prescribed). Many school shooters who were taking psychiatric drugs for their disorder experienced side effects of the drugs prior to carrying out a violent act (Lee, 2013). In fact, there have been 22 drug regulatory warnings on psychiatric drugs citing effects of mania, hostility, violence, and even homicidal ideations (Lee, 2013). There have been at least 27 school Ideas and Research You Can Use: VISTAS 2015 4 shootings committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, which has resulted in 162 wounded and 72 students and/or faculty killed (Lee, 2013). However, there has yet to be a federal investigation in the United States on the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of school shooting.“
That 2013 data completely ignores the rise of white radicalism over the past five years. I read through the link, they didn’t even include rates of known white supremacy or radicalization. 76% of the attackers were white (with a 8% gap where race isn’t specified) according to their data, 99% were male and many left “cryptic messages,” a detail typical of neo Nazi mass killers like Eric Harris and Dylan Roof. That they didn’t analyze possible radicalization was a pretty major oversight.
Angry young white men believe they are the most persecuted, it’s not a surprise that attackers frame themselves as bullying victims. There’s a more a accurate term for it that hadn’t yet been coined in ‘13: wound-collectors.
In essence these are individuals who go out of their way to collect social slights, historical grievances, injustices, unfair or disparate treatment, or wrongs—whether real or imagined (Dangerous Personalities (link is external) 2014 Rodale Publishing)
At some point, we’re gonna have to stop pretending they’re “fighting back.” (X)
Hellotailor (who I love btw! Please check out their website where they discuss the meaning of clothes and fashion in various movie franchises.), caught a lot of shit for writing this about Ready Player One. I don’t dislike the movie (it looks hella fun, and it is Spielberg!), but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
Ready Player One could be the most hated movie of 2018. Considering the fact that it’s a Spielberg film with relatively respectable reviews, that’s quite an achievement. But like Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s based on a bestselling book that lends itself well to embarrassing viral quotes. Ready Player One has come to represent a certain kind of toxic fanboy mentality, and no amount of positive reviews can change that now.
At this point, the film’s quality is almost irrelevant to the backlash. Opponents are going after Ready Player One’s basic concept, because it’s such a perfect illustration of Big Bang Theory-stylegeek culture and its obsession with masturbatory trivia.
It simultaneously caters to the idea that white male nerds are underdog heroes, while proving that they’re actually a dominant force in Hollywood.
This is just a fun post where I can geek out about some of the shows I’ve been watching. I have been watching shows, but haven’t been posting many reviews about them, and then there are the shows I’m greatly looking forward to this month, such as, Into the Badlands, which looks awesome as always, and Westworld, which, naturally, airs the exact same night, and time ,as Badlands.
Later this week will see the airing of Orbiter 9 on Netflix, a Scifi love story of some kind, which I may or may not care for; Troy: Fall of a City, yet another retelling of the legend of Troy; the return of The Expanse, in its 3rd season (one day I’m actually going to watch this show); and the remake of Lost in Space, about which I feel some type of way, since I didn’t particularly care for the movie remake, and there’s a random, token Black woman attached to this cast, which feels kinda weird.
This week I’m also watching Black Lightning, The Crossing (this is new), Siren ( I have a lot of good things to say about this ), and The Terror.
* Introducing: Thunder
AKA Anissa Pierce, the daughter of Jefferson Pierce, who is also known as Black Lightning. Thunder has the ability to increase her body’s mass while preserving volume, which effectively increases her density. In this state she is near-immovable, almost completely invulnerable. A mob enforcer once suffered a compound fracture after trying to punch Thunder in the face. Notably, she can make her skin strong enough to withstand bullets. Just by stomping the ground she can create massive shockwaves. —Wikipedia
She is also the ONLY out, gay, Black, female superhero, in the entirety of the DCEU (and the MCU, too.)
Oldest daughter Anissa is a medical student, activist and part-time teacher at Garfield who is fed up with police brutality and corrupt gangs. She takes a hands-on approach to dangerous situations and reminds her father that little has changed despite years of Black peaceful protest. Every MLK and Fannie Lou Hamer quote from Jefferson is met with Anissa’s rebuttals about everyone being “sick and tired” of no results. She’s the quintessential older sister—a bit overbearing and fiercely protective of her younger sibling Jennifer. Their relationship can be argumentative, but there is love and respect amongst the pair.
You have to watch this show just for the novelty of seeing the only Black mermaid in existence. (More on this show later.) Siren airs on the Freeform network, on Thursdays.
*The new season of Into the Badlands looks tight! The creators have promised that the world is going to get a lot bigger this year. We’ll see more of the Badlands, and the areas outside the Badlands as well.
This is Pilgrim and Cressida, who have come to bring the Badlands to heel, by force, if necessary.
This is Baron Chau’s brother played by Lewis Tan.
Aramis Knight returns a M.K.
Tilda is on her won this season, having separated from her mother.
Sherman Augustus returns as Nathaniel Moon, now in the employ of The Widow.
Ella-Rae Smith is a very powerful young woman who was adopted by, and is working for Pilgrim.
Baron Chau returns and kicks off the war in the Badlands.
*Let’s have a Grace Jones Interlude, just because…
Here she is from the 1987 movie Vamp, where she plays the almost totally silent, Queen Katrina, whose circumstance have been reduced to working in as a stripper, in a divebar, in the red light district, of some unnamed city.
*Troy: Fall of a City is not getting good reviews, but that may have something to do with its depiction of Zeus, Achilles, and Patroclus as Black men (something I’m here for). The show is also doing something else rather radical, by showing Achilles and Patroclus as lovers, as had been alluded to in Homer’s Iliad. So, we have a canon gay, Black, male relationship in this show.
Now that television has starting pushing for diversity in all manner of roles, we’re seeing that Samuel R. Delaney’s Quota Rule has begun to kick in.
As long as poc numbers remained below a certain level ,white people seem to be okay with that, and can claim there is no racism is such and such industry. But once poc start starring in unconventional roles, roles their not used to seeing us in, and/or actually being the stars of shows and movies, they’re going to start showing their whole ass. (Not half their ass. Not a quarter of their ass. But the whole ass.)
This era of pushback is not going to be over soon. We have an entire generation of people who are only used to seeing us serve the needs of White people in the narrative, as sidekicks, main character support, and the help. They need to get used to seeing us doing other things, and being in the narrative just for ourselves,with our own stories. (Black Panther is a huge leap in that direction.)
*I love this interview with the actor who plays Zeus in this show. Unlike American actors, British actors, as a general rule, have zero fucks to give, and absolutely no patience, for foolishness and stupidity, from movie and TV show fans, and do not mince words when interacting with them and I find that refreshing.
On TV’s return to nostalgia for shows of the 90s, only the show’s are specifically about White people. Notice that none of the dozens of shows about PoC, that were hugely popular during that time, are getting reboots.
The ‘90s were a heyday for black sitcoms, but you wouldn’t know it based on the reboots and revivals currently in development.
No one can blame A-lister Will Smith for ruling out a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion or Jaleel White for his disinterest in donning Sally Jessy Raphael frames once more in a Family Matters comeback. But why aren’t we reading about deals to bring groundbreaking, fondly remembered hits like Martin, Living Single, A Different World, Sister, Sister and countless other beloved black comedies back to the air? A few breakout stars — like Smith, Queen Latifah and Tracee Ellis Ross (whose beloved Girlfriends just missed the ‘90s cut-off date by debuting in 2000) — are keeping busy, but most cast members are not. So the time has come to ask: Is there something problematic in the industry’s embrace of Roseanne, Will & Grace and The X-Files, but not the iconic black sitcoms that also made the Clinton years an exhilarating time of experimentation and representation?
Given that TV’s nostalgia projects now number in the dozens, it’s worth asking if the trend has yielded any unintended consequences. The intended ones are evident enough. Netflix has generated staggering amounts of press — and apparently pleased many a viewer — by footing the bill for new seasons of Arrested Development, Gilmore Girls and Full House (now Fuller House). Twin Peaks: The Return seemingly inspired more think pieces than any other series in Showtime history. And Will & Grace and The X-Files’ attempts to retake their perches atop pop culture were met with much hoopla and huge ratings, at least for their premiere episodes.
But it’s hard not to interpret the current iteration of nostalgic programming as a backlash to TV’s increasing diversity — a throwback to the days of Friends and Frasier when people joked that “NBC” stood for “No Black Characters.” Yes, these reboots and revivals comprise only a handful of the hundreds of scripted shows on the air, but many of them tend to be TV’s highest-profile projects. The fact that, in their totality, they inadvertently re-entrench the normalcy of all-white casts while erasing women of color and queer people is notable and worrisome.
There’s no denying that spending time with old friends feels good. But it’s also important to observe how the past is being misremembered now, and why. Some ‘90s stars are collecting paychecks again, while others are not. Certain families are presented once more as “all-American,” while others are not. There are those who have the luxury of remembering the past fondly, and those who do not. Never has it been clearer that our nostalgia has consequences.
But it’s important to remember that sometimes our memories fail us, and that our ’90s friends — except for the ones on Friends — never looked as monochromatic as TV is telling us they were.
*Warning for graphic images of lynching.This is one of those conversations that is not being had in mainstream media, and I don’t ever expect that, considering who owns the media. The idea that maybe there’s a reason White men are panicking about being falsely accused of sexual assault. Would that reason have anything to do with being participants in the false accusations against men of color? White man after White man has written article, after article, and endless op-eds, calling for the end of this movement, praising the backlash against it, and calling it an extremist movement that seeks to destroy all men.
From a historical perspective, it is only men of color who can have a this legitimate complaint against this movement, but they don’t own the newspapers which keep printing op-eds about the movements destruction, or own the media conglomerates that give air time to White men in a panic over whether or not they will face accusations from some virulently man-hating contingent of women.
For decades now, White men have witnessed (and been participatory in) the vigilante attacks that occurred whenever a Black or Brown man was accused of rape or sexual assault, by a White woman. They have been the strongest advocates for the incarceration, terrorizing, and brutal killings of Black and Brown men, simply for the crime of existing near the White women, over whom they claimed ownership. Do they really think they’re going to be on the receiving end of such behavior from women, or are they just protecting the “good name” of those who have historically been the perpetrators of sexual assault against everyone: Black men and women, White men and women and children, both girls and boys?
The Real Reason Why We Can’t Just Believe All Women
Carolyn Bryant. It’s a name everyone should know.
To know her story is to know why women of color do not have the luxury to just #BelieveWomen without question. To know her name is to know that we live in a world where sexual assault is both real and politically weaponized. To know her name is to know that the boundaries of sexual morality are drawn so that white men are able to claim that all accusations made against them are false, while simultaneously asserting that no accusation made against a person of color go unpunished.
The #metoo movement was started by a Black woman named Tarana Burke, but has slowly been taken over by White women in Hollywood, like Rose McGowan, who has promoted herself as a spokesperson for it. A lot of the people standing up for this movement are White privileged actresses. I can’t help but see in them the kind of women who, historically, have most benefited from lobbing false accusations of rape at men of color, to cover for the assaults perpetrated against them by White men, in order to protect them, or to cover up their own duplicitous behavior.
Its also exceedingly precious to me that White men are in such a clear panic about being falsely accused of rape and sexual assault, since historically, those men have been the ones most likely to have engaged in it, while laying the burden of that sin onto the backs of Black and Brown men. I’m not claiming that Black and Brown men never commit sexual assault, but that it is White men who created the racist stereotype that they’re the only ones who do.
One of the many horrors of American racism has been the persistent effort to criminalize black men and the convenient utilization of this racial narrative by some white women to cover up their personal failings or to incite white male rage… Texas is the latest example of a white woman inexcusably putting black men’s lives at risk for violent retribution, incarceration or death.
According to a hundred years of popular media, at least since the release of D.W. Griffiths Birth of a Nation in 1915, it is only Black and Brown men (and Indigenous men) who are willing, and capable of the sexual assault and rape of White women. Naturally, Black and Brown women, Asian women, indigenous women, transgender women, they’re victimization isn’t considered in this discourse, because they do not matter to such men.
They are considered, by the White men who rape and assault them with impunity, to be un-rape-able, because of convenient stereotypes that have been created about them, by White men. These stereotypes, and accusations, that Black women are hypersexual, Asian women are submissive, Latinas are hot and spicy (and all these women are just begging for it) has regularly been espoused by a White male owned media, in movies, TV shows, books, and song, in order to absolve White men of their sexual improprieties towards them. (It is also interesting to note that the stereotype of the “Angry Black Woman” has reached popular prominence only after the prolonged period, from the 70s onward, in which Black women felt they could sexually refuse White men.)
According to mainstream media, no crime is too awful, too atrocious, or too heinous, for a Black man to commit. And the prevailing thought is that once a man of color has been accused that he should be thoroughly punished for it. Such is not the case with White men, who have developed a variety of strategies to help them escape the consequences of any crimes they commit.
White men have lead a very successful propaganda campaign of equating rape and sexual assault with Black and Brown men, and the mainstream media has always aided and abetted this, since it is, in fact, owned by White men, who have a vested interest in not having their race be equated with any of the criminal sexual behavior in which they have historically engaged.
Where does the cognitive belief that black people are dangerous come from?
Partly, it comes from the media. A new study by Color of Change found that, while 51% of the people arrested for violent crime in New York City are black, 75% of the news reports about such arrests highlighted black alleged perpetrators.
Even now, Trump is a perfect example of this phenomenon, in microcosm, a media mogul who attempts to portray an entire culture of Brown men, (Mexicans) as violent rapists, in order to deflect public attention away from the sexual assault accusations that have been dogging his footsteps for over two decades.
“Many media outlets reinforce the public’s racial misconceptions about crime by presenting African Americans and Latinos differently than whites — both quantitatively and qualitatively,” concluded the report, “Race and Punishment: Racial Perceptions of Crime and Support for Punitive Policies.”
“Television news programs and newspapers over-represent racial minorities as crime suspects and whites as crime victims. Black and Latino suspects are also more likely than whites to be presented in a non-individualized and threatening way – unnamed and in police custody. . . .”
In 1915 the movie Birth of a Nation was released. Directed by D.W. Griffith, it is one of the highlights of cinematic history, but one of the horrific side effects of this film was the equating of Black men with miscegenation, and the rape of White women, (even though it had been largely White men who engaged in both). That stereotype has been the foundation of the demonization of Black and Brown men ever since. Suspiciously, it was not until after the Civil Rights Act was passed, that the idea of Black criminality (equating the word “thug” with Blackness, for example) became firmly cemented in mainstream media and popular culture. The word “crime” became synonymous with Blackness, in a way it had not before the Civil Rights Act was passed. People can’t say n****r without pushback, but they can call Black men “thugs”, and mean the exact same thing. They can’t call Black men rapists without censure, but they can call them”super-predators”, and have that mean the same thing, thus has such a successful connection been made between Black men and sexual assault.
According to Marc Mauer however, although African Americans have been consistently stereotyped as “biologically flawed” individuals who have a general tendency towards crime, the depiction of African Americans as criminals became more threatening only in the 1970s and early 1980s- with the evolution of the stereotype of African American males as “petty thieves” to “ominous criminal predators”.
I will say that I do not trust White women to be the head of this new movement. For far too long they have historically not called out (and even in some cases, been complicit with) white men who have been accused of assault. 68% of White women voted for Alabama representative Roy Moore, who had been accused of sexual misconduct against teenage girls.
In fact, women who regularly interact with misogynistic men are frequently praised and rewarded by those men for their complicity. When they ridicule other women who take to the streets to challenge inequality, they’re praised for being “real” women. When they brush off vulgar comments about other women as mere “locker room talk,” they’re praised for knowing how to “take a joke.” When they question the veracity of sexual assault allegations made by other women, they’re praised for sending a clear message that they stand by and with the men in their lives, no matter what. When they openly support candidates like Trump and Moore who seek to silence women, they earn praise for their ability to see past trivial “women’s issues.”
This is just one of the problems with this movement which no one is discussing: The racial implications to Black men, and White men’s reasons for panicking at the thought of the movement’s success. The White female proponents of this movement are not taking into account the effect this particular movement would have on men of color, and that it could be weaponized to victimize Black and Brown men, even more. Or that what this movement appears to be doing from the point of view of panicky White men, is move the burden of sexual assault, and rape accusations onto those to whom it truly belongs: White, cis-gender, straight men.
Despite the fact that this movie involves Sam Worthington, I was really looking forward to seeing it. I don’t like Worthington, not just because he’s a lousy, one note actor, but because I’m still mad at him for playing a disabled man in Avatar, a movie I hate. (My problems with Avatar run deep, btw.) I was looking forward to watching this movie. I like movies about people being transformed by alien DNA ,and I was lead by the trailers to believe that’s what this movie would be about.
It is not about that, and that’s not my first disappointment, in this movie.
My first problem was with the basic premise. Humans have so fucked up Earth that one of the ideas they come up with for helping the human race to survive is moving to another planet. Specifically, humanity makes plans to move to one of Saturn’s moons, called Titan.To that end, the plan of the lead scientist in the movie is, to genetically modify human beings to be able to survive on Titan. The movie’s volunteers are given a series of injections and surgeries to change their bodies to be able to live on Titan. And no, no alien DNA was involved at all. It involves genetic resequencing or something. I don’t know anything about that, but the movie didn’t do a good job of selling me on it, as a legitimate science.
I objected to this premise because no matter how much I love space travel (and yeah I do think we should move off Earth eventually) I don’t think our motivation should be abandoning Earth because we treated it like a garbage dump, while we were on it. I don’t think humanity needs to get in the habit of moving from planet to planet, like a plague of locusts, after we’ve used up a planet’s resources, and that’s exactly the premise of this movie. In the movie they spend several million dollars trying to get a handful of people to Titan, rather than using that money to fix the planet they’re already on.
Now, just because I’m an artist doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy science, and I do know something about the moon Titan. I did not get the impression that the makers of this movie knew anything about Titan, or the importance of any of its physical attributes, in crafting a creature that could live there. There’s a lot of emphasis on people holding their breath underwater, and being able to swim. I didn’t think either of these skills would be helpful on Titan, which is cold, with a really dense atmosphere full of nitrogen. Scientists think there’s liquid water on Titan, and despite all the breath-holding, and swimming, I didn’t get the impression the creators of this film knew that.
The program calls for twelve volunteers, only one of these volunteers survives to the end of the movie, which is disappointing to say the least. One by one, the volunteers die horribly, or go insane, until only Worthington;s character is left. He then gets chased by the scientists who created him, before he gets captured, and sent to Titan by himself, because he’s not physically equipped to live on Earth, which defeats the purpose of the entire chase sequence at the end of the movie. Frankly, I think all of the volunteers should have started dying in Earth’s atmosphere the moment they started transforming. You would think the kind of lifeform that could exist on Titan is not going to be able to run around causing too much havoc on Earth without some kind of life support.
What’s Worthington gonna do on the planet by himself? How the hell is he gonna make more of his kind? Are more of them coming? We don’t know and I have no idea, (or I wasn’t paying close enough attention.)How is humanity supposed to survive with this one guy on Titan? Of course, now that he is on Titan and transformed into a conveniently humanoid creature that lives there, then he really isn’t human anymore, as far I’m concerned. He’s just a human offshoot, who is all alone on this planet, unless the scientists who created him have other plans to torture some more people into being able to live there. The volunteers were all young, pretty, and fit human beings, and they all died.
We also don’t get to see any of the environmental devastation the movie claims to be about, and everyone looks pretty healthy. I mean everyone, their kids and wives. Even in Bladerunner we got some idea of the environmental devastation that humans are escaping to the offworld colonies for. The Titan takes place in a kind of desert oasis set aside for the purposes of the Titan program. We are simply told about Earth’s ecological devastation, and shown not a single visual of any of it. We spend our entire time at the scientific oasis, so we have nothing to compare the volunteers present living conditions , to whatever it was that made them desperate enough to volunteer for a mission they most likely wouldn’t survive. What are they escaping from? What made each of them volunteer? None of this is explored very deeply in the movie, which would’ve made it much more interesting to watch.
What is not interesting though is watching the lead characters wife. We spend most of our time chronicling her growing mental and emotional anguish at watching her husband transform into a being unable to communicate with her, and I get that it would be upsetting, but I really started to get exasperated with her. It was my understanding that she sort of knew what she was getting into when she and her husband volunteered for the program, so all of her histrionics rang a bit hollow, and pointless, for me. She swings uncomfortably close to the stereotype of the nagging wife who argues that she needs to keep her heroic husband all to herself and her family, because he’s given enough to the world, and not enough to his family. This trope is seen in just about any movie about a married man, who gets tasked with some dangerous activity, and I’ve seen it in everything from Red Dragon, to World War Z.
The Titan doesn’t work as a horror movie because there’s no horror in it, (Alien) and it doesn’t work as a science movie because none of the science makes any sense, or is very convincing (Europa Report), and it lacks any sense of awe, (2001: A Space Odyssey). It doesn’t work as a drama either (Gravity) because the dramatic tension feels pointless, and contrived.
The Titan also requires that the audience go along with the basic premise of the movie, that we abandon Earth as a species because we fucked it up. Although, I guess there is a certain amount of hope here, because the Titans think so differently from human beings, that they won’t do to Titan what humans did to Earth. The movie managed to get that idea across, at least.