Here at Geeks of Color, we are committed to representing diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry and want to see every facet of that inclusion, both on screen and off. We’ve already told you about the difference between whitewashing and race-bending. Now, a different discussion is emerging. With a flurry of new opportunities for […]
So, tonite was the pilot episode of the Supernatural spinoff, Wayward Sisters, and I like it. The timing for an all female supernatural show couldn’t be more perfect, especially after the critical reception of Wonder Woman, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The fans were clamoring for a spin-off with Donna and Jodi and we got our wish. It looks like a very promising show, although I could’ve used a little more “umph” in the plot. There was plenty of feels, though, and some fireworks, so it was satisfying. I love seeing a bunch of women shoot stuff, I guess.
The Sisters consists of my personal favorite, Donna Hanscombe. It was great to see Donna again. Check her out with the monster arsenal, including a f*#king flame thrower! She has definitely been born-again hard, since we first met her last season. Jodi Mills is my favorite Mama Bear. She would…
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So this review is going to be a little unusual because I’m going to talk about my Mom first. If you’ve been reading this blog then you know that she has had a huge influence over my tastes in pop culture and we often enjoy movies and TV shows together.
One of the things we really didn’t enjoy together, very much, was comic books. I know she has read them, but she pretty much stuck to Archie and Peanuts, and those were the comics I was introduced to as a little girl. I went from there to Marvel, where I read Conan and Red Sonja, and then superheroes in the 80s and 90s. My Mom pretty much stopped reading comics, and moved on to paperbacks.
So, while my Mom does know something about superheroes like Batman and Superman, whom she disdains for some reason, and I do remember watching Wonder Woman, and The Incredible Hulk with her, when I was a kid, she is not specifically a fan of superheroes, really. I couldn’t get her to watch Captain America, Daredevil, The Defenders or Spiderman, but I did get her to watch Luke Cage, which I consider a success. Apparently, if its a Black superhero, she will watch it, because she also really loved Blade, and seems to be looking forward to Black Panther. She binge-watched (for the first time) Luke Cage, the weekend after it aired.
Basically, I know my the kind of stuff she likes, so I tried to sell her on Black Lightning. I was only slightly nervous, because I wasn’t absolutely sure she would like it. I told her it was like Luke Cage, which I think she maybe watched too fast, because she only has vague memories of really enjoying it. (I did inform her there would be a season two of the show this summer.)
I don’t know why I was so nervous though, because I should’ve remembered that she loved Blade, and yeah, she loved Black Lightning. She mostly really got into the action scenes., which I have to admit were very exciting. Now, anytime I can get my 67 year old Mom to watch a superhero show on the CW, it must be compelling. I have to tell you, my Mom is what you might call, an enthusiastic television viewer. She is very loud and vocal about what she is liking on the screen, and this was the case with Black Lightning. The loud whoops, and cheers I heard coming from her part of the house, was more than enough to vindicate my decision. She was even giddy enough to try to tell me about the episode afterwards, even though I told her I’d already watched it! I was getting a tiny bit worried because she was very worked up about Anissa having superpowers.
I had already watched the episode the night it aired, and recorded it on the DVR. Wednesday nights are her dialysis evenings, and after her session is over she likes to watch a couple of hours of TV and fall asleep. So now she’s excited to watch 9-1-1 on Wednesday nights, and Black Lightning on Tuesdays.
As for Black Lightning, I did very much enjoy it. Its very possibly one of the most unapologetically Black things on TV, or at least on the CW. From the dialogue, to the plot, and music, there’s a lot of cultural relevance in it for Black audiences, and this appears to have worked because the show got good reviews. I was not wrong in comparing it to Luke Cage, because the plot is very reminiscent of that show. The show isn’t related to any of the other superhero shows on the CW. Meaning it doesn’t take place in the same universe as Arrow or Legends of Tomorrow. Nevertheless, I’m really glad a lot of non-Black viewers came out in support of the show, and seemed to enjoy it. too.
Jefferson Pierce is Black Lightning, a high school principal, who has been retired from the superhero/vigilante lifestyle for some nine years. He is separated from his wife, with whom he has joint custody of their two daughters,. One of his daughters, Anissa, is a part-time sex education teacher at the school (so viewers will definitely be receiving some sex education this season, along with history lessons), and the other, Jennifer, is one of the top students at the school. When Jennifer falls into the company of a local gangbanger, who threatens her, and her sister’s life, their father has to come out of retirement to rescue them both.
As I’ve said before, I’m always here for some Black girl damseling, but that isn’t all we’re in for though, as it turns out that Anissa also has superpowers. She can change her physical density, which gives her speed and strength. In the comic books, her superhero name is Thunder, and her little sister, who has powers much like her father, is known as Lightning. (She has the ability to transform her body into lightning, which is all kinds of awesomeness). I haven’t read much about either of them in the comic books, even though I was a fan of Batman and the Outsiders in the early nineties. I first encountered Thunder in a story where she was fighting with her dad about choosing the superhero lifestyle. She is currently a member of The Outsiders. I suspect that title is going to become very popular after this show.
Black Lightning and Luke Cage (Misty Knight) will be only two of three shows, that I know of, which will feature Black female superheroes. The other show is Legends of Tomorrow with Vixen. It will have the groundbreaking distinction of being the only show on television with a Black lesbian superhero (in the comic books Thunder is the partner of superhero Grace Choi, who is being played by Chantal Thuy) This is notable for two reasons. Grace Choi will be the only Asian (Vietnamese/Canadian) lesbian superhero on TV, as part of an interracial couple, (where neither partner is White), which is pretty rare.
Another thing I liked about this show was the relationships. We see a positive ex-wife/husband relationship. They act like mature adults who talk to each other about their lives, and raising their daughters. Its evident that Jefferson and his ex-wife still love each other, but for some reason feel they can’t be together.We get to see a positive family dynamic between a father and his two daughters, and we get to see a loving and supportive relationship between two sisters, which is also interesting on TV, as there are rarely more than one or two WoC in any narrative.
My Mom seemed especially interested and excited at the idea that the daughters have superpowers. She was very vocal about it at any rate. Which kind of saddens me, because sometimes a person doesn’t know they need something until they’ve seen it. She’s probably wanted to see Black women with superpowers her whole life. And it was not until we started getting Black directors and content creators, that she got the chance to see it. I read comic books as a kid, so I had Storm, but my Mom had none of this growing up.
So I just want to give a shout-out to the Black men content creators, who have not forgotten that their “sistahs” exist, and want to see representation for themselves. We want to see ourselves kicking ass and having adventures too. Ryan Coogler, (The Dora Milaje), Cheo Hodari- Coker (Misty Knight), and the husband and wife directing team (Salim and Mara Brock Alil) of Black Lightning, have not forgotten to give Black women strong, positive roles in their new venture, something which White directors (especially White female directors) always seem to forget, or only remember as an afterthought. Black content creators are doing the Lord’s work and I thank them for it. Plenty of little Black girls, including my niece, will grow up watching versions of themselves saving the world. And my Mom can finally get to see those Black female superheroes she didn’t know she needed.
This is one of my favorite scenes where Jefferson’s daughters surprise their father by joining him on his morning run.
As for the more questionable stuff: If you’re having anxiety issues surrounding police brutality, or implications of rape, then use caution while watching this show. There are a lot of guns (mostly used by gang members), but you don’t really see many people get shot, until the end of the show, (and those are all villains). There is a mildly graphic scene where a man gets eaten by piranha. Don’t ask!
I have to admit to feeling a good deal of tension surrounding the opening scene, when Jefferson gets pulled over by cops for driving while Black, and he and his daughters are threatened. It’s a very harrowing scene, even when you remember that none of these characters are going to die ,or there’d be no show. This doesn’t seem to be one of those shows where “anybody can die”, but only the marginalized characters ever seem to get killed, so you guys are safe on that front.
There are three primary villains in the show. One of them is a low status employee of the local drug dealer who stalks Jennifer after she goes out to a club with him. One of them is an associate of Jefferson named La La, played by William Catlett, and the other is Tobias Whale played by the albino actor, Marvin Krondon Jones III. Although ,once again, we really need to examine this thing where people with albinism are cast as villains all the time. I’m pretty sure that such individuals don’t like seeing themselves as the bad guys all the time in popular media.
The show tackles several topics. like the generation gap in activism, gangs, gun control in schools, and it also presents interesting ideas of how Black men handle oppression. There’s Jefferson’s manner, which is to try to lift up as many people as possible. There’s La La’s way of handling it, which seems to be just giving in, and the Kingpin-like Tobias Whale approach, which is to take advantage of the system to get ahead, and attempt respectability.
After Jennifer and Anissa are kidnapped, Black Lightning has to come out of retirement to rescue them. It seems the stress of being kidnapped, and nearly killed has unleashed Anissa’s abilities, so while we come into Black Lightning’s story in the middle, we will get to see the origins of Thunder and Lightning, and how they navigate the world with powers. We’ll also get to see how Jefferson deals with his children having abilities, and his daughter’s coming out,as a lesbian.
The show-runners have said that for the first season their focus is going to be on Black Lightning’s origins, and his beef with Tobias Whale. Most of his adventures will remain at the street/vigilante level, as with the first season of Daredevil ,and they’ll explore how Jennifer and Anissa deal with their new powers.
I also want to give a shout-out to the soundtrack director. Every form of modern Black music gets represented , and I spent more than a little amount of my time not paying attention to the plot, as I sang along to some oldies, and even got introduced to a few new artists.
As with most pop culture aimed at Black audiences, I’m mostly reading and signal boosting reviews from PoC , because I feel like these are the reviewers who can best understand what they’ve just seen, and be able to speak to the authenticity of the show, as regards Black culture, although most reviewers, of all races, seemed to have enjoyed it.
Be here for further updates. I wont be doing a week by week review but I will keep abreast of events, and come back to discuss some of the highlight episodes.
I love these little gothic themes on Tumblr. I was looking for articles about knitting and stumbled across a bunch of them, and decided to put them all in one place. I even added a few myself:
You tie on your next color and cut off the last one. When your scissors snip shut, you think you hear a distant scream. The next morning you think you hear sirens, but you’re too busy knitting to look outside.
You stop going to your knitting club because when your fellow knitters smile at you there’s too many teeth. Too many.
The strand of yarn whispers between your fingers. Sometimes you can almost understand what it’s saying.
You go to the yarn store to pick up more red yarn. The dead-eyed employee that greets you says he’ll have to check if they have any left in the back. The co-worker he grabs screams hysterically as he’s dragged away.
Your new yarn drips red all over your car seat. By the time you get home it’s dry enough to work.
You don’t remember when you last felt the wind on your face, but sometimes you can feel it in the vibrations of the yarn that snakes across the windows throughout your house.
You only have a few more rows left to go. The next day, you only have a few more rows left to go. The next week, you only have a few more rows left to go. Just a few more left to go.
You’re so eager to be done. So desperate to be done. When will you finally be done?
You open your mouth to scream, but no sound comes out, only yarn. Always yarn. You keep knitting.
You’ve been waiting for that yarn to come in stock for six months. It has not been discontinued, but its never in stock. No one else has it in stock either. Is it even a real yarn?
You dropped your ball of yarn on the floor and now you can’t find it. You know its in this room, because you had it in your hand a moment ago, but it has disappeared. It does not want to be found.
You have frogged this scarf three times because the stitch count keeps coming out incorrect. Even though you’re counting every stitch, and using stitch markers, every row is a different size.
When you bought the yarn in the store it looked green. Now that you’ve gotten it to your home it looks blue. You take it outside to see how it looks and its a dark brown. Exactly what color is it?
You have been knitting this scarf for two years. Its still not finished. It just needs two more rows, or one more row, or three. You’ve lost count of how many rows you’ve knitted. You have no idea how many more you need now, but the scarf isn’t done.
I am much offended, too.
I;m always here for accredited dinosaur historicity:
Historical footage of the last T-Rex serving his country in WWl.
*But isn’t that a Jeep? And the T-Rex is holding a…Browning M2? Which wasn’t used until 1933…
So I think this footage is actually of WW2.
Many people think it’s historically inaccurate because the Tyrannosaur doesn’t have feathers, but a buzz cut is pretty standard for military personnel.
we need an authority on this
Totally accurate except that that Rex is a bit bigger so it’s actually a female Rex so she may have been pretending to be a male so she could fight. What an icon she is.
And more in Hollywood’s ongoing war against Asian/Middle Eastern people, and people’s reactions to that. This isn’t remotely funny but I find myself laughing really hard about this. It seems White people are getting just as exasperated with this as Asian people. It is becoming creepily obviuous that Hollywood does not like Asian people.
Most of Hollywood seems determined to die on this hill because our clear and growing preference for diverse casts is making them face the fact that no, they aren’t pragmatists catering to the whims of racists audiences, they’re just fucking racists
This infuriate me so much. It’s not even gratuitous, it’s actually costing them more to disguise white people as asians, it’s inevitably gonna cause a backlash, but hey! It’s worth it if it means fewer PoCs in this movie about middle eastern people, right?
I’m baffled how ANYONE thought this was a good idea like…I’m not shocked that Hollywood is racist, at all but this is 2018…you’d think that the people making this film would know that this would piss people off (And rightly so) and wouldn’t do this just to avoid bad PR if for no other reason…
I should not have found this as funny as I did:
More writing instructions for conscientious people. Just because you’re creating worlds where there is no racism, doesn’t mean you don’t need an understanding of how racism works, if for no other reason than not unconsciously reproducing racist narratives in your work, Ask yourself, and research questions about how racism works, how it manifests, and how it affects marginalized groups:
Its great that people are asking, “how can we write fantasy worlds without racism?” Escapism in fantasy is almost impossible for marginalized people, because we’re usually the only ones who have to accept the same bigotries in-text as we do in real life, because its tied to someone’s “escapism”. For them, we either have a lower place in society that they can openly exploit, or we shouldn’t exist at all. We need to deal with abuse in order for them to accept that fantasy world as a viable setting. But I have an issue with just leaving it at “lets keep racist text out of the stories”.
See, the problem with making worlds where there is no racism is that so many people haven’t quite figured out how to do that right. Its like they take this idea of “colorblind racism’ here no one sees skin color, hence its just “coincidence” that all the black people are subservient, or that all the Asian women are submissive and tiny.
Some examples (using my context as a mixed black person who identifies as black in most settings):
- They’ll make a world where no one ever utters a single racial slur but still will use the same anti-blackness we see in real life (i.e. whenever they make us mammies or sacrificial lambs, using terms like “dirty” or “demonic” to describe our appearance a la Lord of the Rings, etc.)
- Or they’ll make sure that no one ever says “people color should be slaves” but lo and behold, that’s pretty much all you see. (Like in Exodus, or the earlier seasons of Game of Thrones). And we’re the only ones who HAVE to take THAT subservient role or else we’re “ruining the accuracy”. And when you call it out they say, “well that what you all were” but they won’t get why that’s just as bad as if they’d just admitted, “Hey, this is pretty racist” from the start.
- Or (taking from what I said up there) they’ll make people who look black, and are from a culture obviously based on black people, but still claim they aren’t black, because they would rather divorce blackness from their world, instead of admitting we can be complex characters who can carry complex stories (because they still haven’t unpacked their own problematic ideas about black people)
- Or worse still, they’ll make an entire world based off of a culture belonging to a group of people who they won’t even include. I.e. the whole issue with Firefly and Serenity, and again Exodus.
- Or we’ll be turned into white people with special powers or pointy ears. Racism becomes, “hey this girl has red hair instead of blond hair lets exclude her”. Meanwhile since there’s “no real racism” they claim there’s no need for “real” people of color (i.e. the problem with Dragon Age).
- Or they’ll do some “colorblind” setting where everyone is mixed, but well all be reminded that only Aryan features are seen as “rare” and “special” an they’ll treat the rest of our features (i.e. brown skin, ark eyes, dark hair, etc. ) as “meh”.
Your worlds aren’t “racism free” just because make sure no one says the n-word.
Unless you really make an effort to think critically about these things (which includes trying to avoid: dehumanizing marginalized people, failing to include them as a part of the storyline unless the story “calls for it”, reducing them down to “inspiration porn” or metaphors, making them interchangeable, using fictional creatures in order to representation them, while making all humans white by default, etc.) then you run the risk of just being all talk.
And to bring us full circle, have some knitting memes featuring Ryan Gosling. For some reason people decided to create a whole bunch of memes with Ryan Gosling saying “Hey girl…” after they found out he liked to knit. I have to admit I didn’t find these especially funny until after I saw Bladerunner 2049. Then I couldn’t stop picturing replicants in a knitting circle. Well, I am fond of mixing knitting with violence, I guess.
And some more general memes I thought were just funny:
If you’re anything like me, college or (simply) life has probably managed to put a pause on reading for fun, but I still sometimes want to soak in a good novel or two when I find the time. However, it took until about a year ago for me to come to the realization that I […]
“Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.”
In college, I majored in Commercial illustration, with a minor in fashion illustration. I know right! In other words, I know just enough about fashion to know a little sum-sumthin’ about the philosophy behind why people wear what they wear, and how television reinforces class, and social distinctions. Everything that anyone wears, on any show, is carefully orchestrated to convey specific ideas to the audience about the character’s lives, mental states, and socio-economic condition.
The purpose of fashion on TV is to present an image of wealth, uniformity, and conformity, and its been that way since the beginning. Since television is driven by advertising, advertisers want certain types of people to watch their shows, so shows themselves are carefuly crafted (and I want to emphasize this) to appeal to the types of people that the advertising is aimed at.
Did you notice that so many women on TV all have the exact same hairstyle? Not all of them but it is very, very common, and the next time you’re watching a show, count how many times you see this hairstyle. Straight on top, curling towards the ends, no matter how long or short, or what race the actor. That’s because this type of hairstyle is one of the easiest to recreate, and keep track of, on a TV set. If the hair gets wet, or if it’s too windy, this type of hairstyle is easy to remember and fix to keep scene continuity.
Most of the fashion on TV firmly situates most actors in the middle-class. Television often depicts the type of lives the audience meant to aspire to, or is already living. Poverty is almost never depicted, neither are working class people. (This was different in the fifties and sixties.) The top professions depicted in television dramas today are politicians, lawyers, doctors, and (FBI) detectives (common beat cops are rarely depicted), all jobs with salaries averaging 75,000 to 175, 000 dollars, annually. The kind of jobs that used to be depicted on tv before the 80s were janitors, bus drivers, and uniformed cops. But over time, content creators ( and ad companies) found these types of professions insufficiently glamourous.
Almost no one dresses in an unkempt manner on TV, unless its to convey that their lives are a disorganized mess, that their life is on a downslope, to depict drunkenness, drug abuse, or some extreme mental illness. Most people’s clothes look new, not as if they wear them every day, or have to wash them often. People rarely wear the same thing more than once, so the implication is that they have prodigious wardrobes, and the kinds of homes where that would be possible.
Most television characters can wear a different outfit every day, whether their job provides the salary for it, or not. Everything looks expensive, neatly tucked into belts and pants, unrumpled, unfaded, and unwrinkled. Body types tend to be uniform, and generally all one race. Shows that feature a balance of races in the cast are kind of rare. This is true even in environments, or crowd scenes that you know to be diverse, like New York City. There’s also uniformity in the economic makeup of a cast in environments that contain differing economic classes. Everyone in the environment is middle class, or wealthy, or poor.
Almost no one wears denim, mini-skirts, or sneakers for women (denim mini-skirts are a sign of poverty, or working class status, as are denim jackets, and loud colors). Most women on TV wear blouses that are just a tiny bit too tight, with just enough cleavage, but not too much. There is little variation in women’s clothing styles, no matter what their economic class, and not much self-expression. Generally there’s no loud, bright, or large jewelry, and certainly no interesting makeup choices. You won’t see any women dyeing their hair blue and green, or wearing bright purple lipstick, (and not even teenagers are exempt from these rules.) These types of clothing and color choices are solely the province of the poor, and usually used for comedic effect.
Ethnic clothing on television is almost non-existent, unless the topic is very specific. For example, any movie or show about the Middle East, or set in a Black neighborhood. You will not see saris or hijabs in TV, unless the story calls for it. This form of dress is so rare, that a character from The Walking Dead, who was glimpsed wearing a hijab, caused a minor sensation among fans of the show.
Watch four or five of your favorite shows, then go out and observe what people are actually wearing on the streets.
Of special note is the depiction of weather related clothing. Life above the snow line, for example, is rarely depicted, along with all of the time it takes to get into and out of the many layers of clothing northerners wear in inclement weather. It’s always sunny on TV.
TV and movies have never been an accurate portrayal of real life fashion or behavior, anyway. It certainly has gotten better since the fifties, when everyone on TV dressed like this:
‘Clemente has written extensively about the evolution of American dress in the 1900s, a period that, she said, was marked, maybe more than anything else, by a single but powerful trend: As everyday fashion broke from tradition, it shed much of its socioeconomic implications — people no longer dress to feign wealth like they once did — and took on a new meaning.’
Conformity and uniformity was heavily reinforced on TV, during and after the war. It was a top down dynamic in which fashion rules and regulations came down from the upper classes. They set the standard for everyone else to aspire to. But at the same time social changes gave rise to a teen culture that began to affect how everyday people dressed. Over time, as this teen culture came to influence all of society, and not just dress, Tv and movies began to reflect that.
People in the real world dressed like this, but whenever they were shown in movies and TV, in the 50s, they were associated with various rebellious counterculutres, juvenile delinquency, and criminality:
Interestingly, over time, the age range of actors on Tv started trending lower too. In the fifites, the vast majority of Tv shows consisted of White adults, over thirty, with jobs. High schoolers and college students were rarely depicted, and many of them dressed like miniature adults. Sneakers and dungareees were for elementary school children or neighborhood delinquents. Leather jackets were for bikers and criminals.
Quite frankly television hasn’t changed very much from this dynamic today, beyond having younger people on screen, although many of them are still overdressed for high school. One of the most remarkable moments in the movie Spiderman:Homecoming, was the way the teenagers dressed very much like actual modern teens. Notice the absence of high heels and leather jackets, although they still look like working class, and middle class, teens.
Their manner of dress is still carefully coordinated as to color and fabric (the skirts on the young ladies are still much shorter than usual) but this is probably as close as you’re going to get to the unmade up look that teenagers actually have.
Unlike for example, in the 80s, when, contrary to actual life, teenagers dressed like this:
Power suits and giant shoulders:
Carefully tucked in shirts, and extra blue denim:
The 90s: Whatever this is
Vs. how teenagers today actually dress:
Not all teen shows are like these, but a lot of the mainstream shows (not on specialty networks), that feature teens have a similiar aesthetic.
Television presents a world of American, upper middle-class, suburban conformity. The purpose of clothing is not to express oneself (because the actors do not choose their clothing) but to convey status to the viewer, to each other, and those in the class just above them. Their clothing is meant to state, “I belong here.” “I’m one of you.” Movies and television deal in stereotypes and shorthand to convey as much meaning as possible with as little thought, and effort, as possible.
Poor people are rarely depicted on Tv today. At least not properly. Almost none of the most popular, mainstream shows depict their home lives, or manner of dress. When they are seen, its primarily for comedic puproses. You are meant to laugh at and mock them.
I live in a city about which a certain television sitcom became very popular in the 90s. I liked the characters and it was pretty funny. My major gripe was not the plot, but the setting, and one character in particular. This city is nearly 60% Black, but you would never know that from watching the show, which took place in the downtown area. Almost no Black people were depicted on the show at all. The downtown scenes should have looked like this:
But my biggest problem, was one of the characters on the show, who dressed like no human being on Earth has ever dressed. Can you spot that person?
The second character is Mimi, and she was, redundantly, an extra source of comedic relief, on a comedy show. It’s clear that we were meant to laugh AT Mimi because she was not conventionally pretty, dressed like a circus clown, and had unorthodox hair, and makeup. And yeah, because she was fat.
Mimi was the antithesis of Midwestern modesty, and as if she wasnt funny enough, the writers gave her a personality to match her outfits. She was every crude stereotype of a fat person that you could imagine. Loud, rude, mean, crass, and a bully. Although her job title listed her as an Administrative Assistant, she is solidly situated in the working class, as a Secretary. If you’re looking at Mimi and laughing, then examine why you think she’s funny. Is it because you’ve been carefully taught, through years of television viewing, to not take people who look like her seriously?
(Mimi may be the most obvious depiction of television fashion gone horribly wrong, but the young lady to the right in the photo, is just as inaccurate. She is a Californian’s idea of the girl next door. This is a more accurate image of how midwestern women look and dress.)
The show Shameless is meant to depict a poor, working class family, but its creators are still beholden to the rules of televsion, which state that women must be made up, shaved, and carefully coiffed to look un-coiffed. Their clothes look a little too new, and their shoes don’t show enough wear. In other words, the creators are trying and failing to capture a “poverty aesthetic “.
Tv show creators were a little better at this in the 70s and 80s.
Roseanne (90s), and the show, Good Times (70s), are just a handful of sitcoms in the past forty years, that got the aesthetic right. Roseanne’s narrative was of a working class family from the suburbs. They wore comfortable clothing with prominent sports logos, sneakers, little makeup, and easy to wear hairstyles. Later in the series, Roseanne’s gay employer, sticks out like a sore thumb in such an environment, because he is neatly shaved, coiffed, and dressed in dapper suits. Despite his sexuality, he has a higher class status than Roseanne. He is quietly disdainful of her lifestyle, and she occasionally expresses contempt for his effete stylishness. Is this a reinforcement of the class divide, or just a reflection?
In the show Good Times, which aired in the 70s, the Evans family is firmly ensconced in the lower middle/working class. The father is a janitor, with a wife and three kids, living in a rundown apartment building in New York. They dress comfortably and in bright, but mismatching, colors (to be fair, I think everyone dressed like that, in the 70s.) Note the worn, and ratty chair, and the casual body language, with hands in pockets, (and leaning against each other, which denotes strong affection). They may be poor but they have love. Contrast their manner of dress with that of The Jeffersons, who moved up to a deluxe apartment in New York, because Mr. Jefferson owns a chain of laundry stores.
Mr. Jefferson was wealthy enough to afford a loft apartment in New York City, and even have a maid. Mr. Jefferson was almost never seen not wearing a suit, and note the carefully made up faces and hair of the women. Even their maid (the Black woman in the floral dress) looks well to do. The new looking sofa, and fresh looking, well made clothing in darker, more uniform colors, along with their formal posing, complete the image of being cosmopolitan and upper middle class. Note that this is not how they looked when these characters were first introduced on the show All in the Family, which was another show featuring a working class, suburban, white family. In All in the Family, the wife, Edith, stayed at home and was almost never seen not wearing a floral apron. We never see Louise Jefferson in an apron. That’s the maid’s attire.
In the show Happy, the lead character is a disgraced cop, who is an absentee father, and a drunkard, who is in league with the local mob. We know this character’s life is seriously fucked up, not just because of the dialogue and exposition, but because of how he is dressed. He spends most of the pilot episode wearing little more than a hospital gown, and that along with his grizzle, unshaven face, ratty scarves, and dirty trench coat, speaks of a person whose life has gone horribly awry. You are meant to think that this is a person with “issues”. Perhaps mental ones.
Another major difference between real life fashion, and TV fashion, are regional differences. You will find no cowboy boots, no hats, no sports wear, or sweatsuits, unless its for comedy, or the episode in question happens to be about poverty, and/or crime. People on television rarely live in places that require many layers of clothing (above the snow line, where its cold six or seven months of the year) against inclement weather. It takes several minutes to dress and undress when coming in, or going outdoors. When snow is shown in movies and TV, people are dressed more for fashion than warmth, which is not the case in real life. Nobody cares what they look like when its -something degrees.
Women who wear unusual hair colors,and styles, loud jewelry ,flashy heels, or too much cleavage, are meant to be laughed at. They simply cannot be taken seriously, and when they try, these poor individuals are dressing above their station, at least according to the dressage goals of the middle class. But what’s really happening here is that people’s reasons for dressing the way they do are to different purposes.
The poor, and working class seek to express themselves, and their individuality via their clothing. They like comfort, a specific TV show, or just because they love the color blue. People from the middle classes seek to influence and impress others through clothing, so uniformity and conformity are the goals. The distinction is subtle but important, because these are antagonistic goals.
In one case, someone is trying to tell the world something about their true self, the person they really are, or to impress on others with their individuality. For the middle class, who regularly socialize with those higher on the social ladder than them, things are much more conformist. They’re trying to tell their betters that they belong, that they’re one of them, part of the tribe. Part of the reason this is done is because of the influence of popular media.
(It is also interesting to note that on television, the higher up the social ladder a person is depicted, the less you see them watching television, and if so, its often news programs. On TV, the poorer the character, the more likely they are to be shown watching TV, and its usually popular media. But this is a subject for another post.)
The attitude towards expressions of individuality is reinforced on, and by, TV. The middle class that almost all of TV is aimed at, and who everyone is meant to aspire to, are taught in a subtle manner, that “those” people (i.e. anyone who is not dressed like them) are not meant to be taken seriously, and in some cases looked down on. If you’re from a poor background, and you want to move upward (or maybe you have already) you’re subtly told that to fit into the middle class, you must remove any extreme vestiges of your individual self, and fit in.
I must preface my review by saying I have been looking forward to this film the moment it was announced and I’m glad to say that I’ve finally had the pleasure to see it (even with its lack of promotion). But despite that very serious shortcoming, when I entered the theater this afternoon, I was […]
I have yet to see this movie, but when I finally do, I’ll let everyone know what I thought. I’ve been excited to see this since I first heard about it, and I can’t wait to see if it’s as fun as I hope.
Starz has announced that it will air the series The Continental, which is set in the world of the John Wick films. The show will revolve around the hotel that assists the assassins it caters to. Chris Collins (The Wire) is set to write and act as showrunner. Basil Iwanyk (John Wick), Chad Stahelski (John Wick: Chapter […]
I think Samuel R. Delaney really summed this up best when he outlined how the rise in racist behavior from White people in fandoms (and most other ventures and organizations) is often directly commensurate with a rise in the number of PoC who are participating in said event. Not to imply causality here, but certainly there is a correlation.
*(Warning for graphic descriptions of lynching.)
“Racism and Science Fiction”
by Samuel R. Delany
From NYRSF Issue 120, August 1998. “Racism in SF” first appeared in volume form
in Darkmatter, edited by Sheree R. Thomas, Warner Books: New York, 2000.
Posted by Permission of Samuel R. Delany. Copyright © 1998 by Samuel R. Delany.
Racism for me has always appeared to be first and foremost a system, largely supported by material and economic conditions at work in a field of social traditions. Thus, though racism is always made manifest through individuals’ decisions, actions, words, and feelings, when we have the luxury of looking at it with the longer view (and we don’t, always), usually I don’t see much point in blaming people personally, white or black, for their feelings or even for their specific actions—as long as they remain this side of the criminal. These are not what stabilize the system. These are not what promote and reproduce the system. These are not the points where the most lasting changes can be introduced to alter the system.
Delaney was specifically discussing Genre literature in this essay, but this same reasoning could also be applied to television, film, fandoms, tech startups, travel, medicine, and academia. The reason why so many people like to look back to the “Good ‘Ol Days” and say there wasn’t any racism back then, is because there weren’t enough PoC involved in that particular industry back then, to trigger the “Pushback” behavior we’re seeing now, at least not in enough numbers that White people thought it worrisome.
There isn’t more racism being expressed in fandom. It’s the same amount of whitewashing, erasure, and White prioritization that has always existed. The only differences now is that with the rise, in number, of fans of color, White bigots have become more vocal in their efforts to push back against those numbers, and there are more of us to call them out on their behavior.
Whether they know what they’re doing or not, fans are participating in an effort to drive PoC away from spaces they have always considered safely theirs, and not just against PoC, but women as well. This happens in every industry, and it has always failed. There has never been a time when White bigots (whether they knew they were bigots, or not) successfully managed to send THOSE people back where they came from, or halt their participation in some cultural pursuit. Nevertheless, each generation of newcomers must go through the same song and dance of defending our presence, wherever we happened to show up, or defending our interest, in something we found entertaining.
And I am a WoC, so I have had to work doubly hard at this.
Here in January of 2018, this is the deal: I’m gonna judge you if you can’t admit openly and without reservation that Donald Trump is a racist. Not just racist, which is to say, he has some defense in the idea that we live in a racist society so we all participate its racism whether…
— The midseason premiere of Star Trek: Discovery – the Jonathan Frakes-directed “Despite Yourself” – confirmed one of the show’s longest brewing rumors, revealing that the titular Federation starship has unexpectedly found itself in the Mirror Universe following a malfunction of its experimental spore drive.
So, Star Trek Discovery came back for the second half of the first season, and it’s a doozy. The show has turned itself a full 90 degrees from the first half of the season. At the end of episode nine, the crew of the USS Discovery found itself stranded in some unknown place among the war relics of old Klingon ships, and their transportation system (LT. Stametz) was incapacitated.
It turns out that they’re in the Mirror Universe first encountered in the original Star Trek series. If you remember, Scotty, Uhura, and Kirk, and McCoy got trapped in that universe after a transporter incident, and had to try to find a way to get back home. They also encountered a goateed Spock in that universe, and discovered that every human in that universe was evil. The Mirrorverse is an alternate reality that contains copies of most of humanity from the Prime universe ,except everyone is their worse possible self.
Out of the entire franchise, The Next Generation crew is the only one that never visited that universe, and the episode “Through a Mirror Darkly”, from the show Enterprise, was the last time we visited. So getting to see Lorca, Tilly, and Michael navigate this universe is especially fun and interesting, but still really intense, and I was totally captured.
I’ve been fascinated by the Mirrorverse since that very first episode. It was so well written ,and the backstory on that universe, and its characters was deeply intriguing. (For the record, the original universe episode occurs about a hundred years after Discovery.) Not only is there a great backstory, but it has a well chronicled future, as well.
In the Mirrorverse there is no Federation. There’s something called the Terran Empire, and humans are complete and utter despots. They are paranoid, xenophobic, vicious, and untrustworthy, and that’s just towards other human beings. Imagine if the Nazis had taken over Starfleet, only worse. Humans are so evil that they make the Klingons look like good guys, and they, the Vulcans, and every other non-human race with access to spaceship technology, have formed an alliance to destroy them.
Imagine a universe in which the only way to get ahead, in any venture, is to kill one’s predecessor, any emotion outside of anger and rage is considered a weakness, everyone carries knives on them at all times because they are required to do so, people are tortured for the slightest mistake, or infraction, and there are special pain booths built just for the purpose.
All the human women of this ‘verse (and the men too) use sexual wiles to get ahead, as well,, and the men expect those favors, and hope they survive the encounter, because the women of this universe are not to be trifled with, or underestimated. They are just as vicious and mean as rabid dogs themselves. From time to time, alliances and loyalties are formed, but only until one’s goals are reached, and if the other person’s goals happen to align with yours. The only reason humans have formed alliances among themselves, is so they can conquer everyone who isn’t them.
There’s been a lot of Nazi allegories happening in the genre lately, most of it is horrible and badly written claptrap, written by men who do not understand any of the psychology behind such beings. But This! This is how you write a Nazi allegory, (in such a way that you don’t realize its an allegory, until you are well involved in the episode), and with the understanding that such a regime is scary as fuck. There’s is nothing about this universe that inspires a person to want to live in it, except the morbid curiosity of what kind of person you would become. (Probably dead.)
There is nothing about these humans that’s at all admirable, beyond their sheer ruthlessness. The ones who aren’t mean and vicious, are fawning, bootlicking sycphants. There’s no way to woobify these characters, (although fans came pretty close with Spock, but he’s a special case.) These people are not meant to be liked. They are deeply unlikable.
Now pair all this information with images of the likable, sweet, bumbling Tilly, the logical practicality of Michael, and the brave timidity of Lt Saru, and you’ve got some seriously juicy drama about to happen. What’s going to happen to them and How far will they have to go to fit into this universe?
The first test of the Discovery is to convince another ship, The Cooper, that it is indeed the Mirrorverse version of the Discovery. (The Discovery that was once in the Mirrorverse has switched places with them and is now in what I like to call the Prime universe.) To do that they need to speak to the Captain, and guess who that is…
Watching Tilly put on her gameface is one of the great joys of this episode, and hilarious (also, watching that actress play Captain Tilly is kinda scary.) It really is kinda like seeing a cute little bunny viciously bite someone. She also gets one of the best lines in the entire episode. Earlier in the season, Stamets, while caught in a mycelium fugue state, called her Captain, and their time in this universe may have been what he glimpsed. This episode, he spends most of his time yelling senselessly about a palace, and imminent danger. What that means for future episodes is anyone’s guess.
Captain Lorca gets to be unexpectedly funny when he has to coach Tilly through her first conversation as a Captain. Somewhere, somehow he has met Scotty, because when he is finally asked to speak, he puts on a flawless Scotty accent. Lorca is totally hard core. His counterpart in the Mirrorverse is in the wind, so he pretends he’s been caught by Michael, who is presumed to have died in pursuit of him. To lend authenticity to Michael’s story, this guy head- butts himself against a bulkhead. So yeah, this universe is definitely gritty enough to make him happy.
Michael’s first act, as the Captain of The Shenzhou, is to kill the current acting Captain, a man she saw die in the Prime universe, and wonders if this is what all of this will be like for them, constantly running into dead people. To find their way back home, she and Tilly need to be their worse selves, and they both rightfully worry about how this will change them in the future. Lorca tells all of them that their focus needs to be on returning home, and to do, and say, whatever is required to get back there alive. For his part, he willingly walks into a situation that will require him to be tortured in a pain booth.
Michael’s relationship with Ash Tyler has progressed to love making, and I got a bad feeling about this drop, because Ash has some problems, and may in fact be a brainwashed Klingon, named Voq, who has since disappeared since we saw him the first two episodes. I think Ash has been genetically, and surgically, altered to look human, which I really hope not. Lorca assigns him to be Michael’s personal guard, because that’s how this universe rolls, and Ash has totally dedicated himself to this job ,which was kind of nice to see, but this is tempered by the fact that he is slowly unraveling.
There has been some speculation, from fans, that Lorca himself is actually from this universe. If so, it would certainly answer a whole hell of a lot of questions about his character, including why he is so unperturbed to be in the Mirrorverse. In the Mirrorverse, he was presumed in flight, after killing that Universe’s version of Michael, who was sent to assassinate him. If he had a previous relationship with the Mirrorverse Michael, that might explain his strong attachment to this Michael.
This theory would certainly explain Lorca’s shifty behavior, if his ultimate goal, from the time we met him, was to try to get back to the Mirrorverse, so he can assassinate the Terran Emperor. (Yep, I got theories! And I’m not the only one, either.)) It would explain his behavior with Cornwell, like the fact that he keeps a phaser under his pillow, which is exactly the sort of shit captains have to do in the Mirrorverse, if they want to stay alive. Cornwell also tells him that after the event that damaged his eyes, he changed, and became a different person, and he makes love differently than before, too. Now, watching that scene, without any of these suspicions, it is very obvious that he is trying to manipulate her into doing something he wants, which is keep his ship from being taken from him.
I strongly suspect that in the episode Lethe, when Sarek is injured, and unable to meet with the Klingons, and their mediators, to stop the war, that he is the one who gave the Klingons the secret location of the meeting. After all, he is the one that suggested she take Sarek’s place. It would certainly explain his not even trying to rescue her, after she’d been captured. It very conveniently gets her out of the way, and he can continue his mission, without her interference.
Cornwell came into that conversation to discuss how he is running his ship, and he turned it into a seduction, and sexual manipulation is, once again, the kind of shit that captains in the Mirroverse do. She had chalked up these differences to PTSD, or some other psychological issue, but its possible Lorca just isn’t who she thinks he is. This is par for the course on this show. Everybody else has a horrible secret, so why not him. Stamets spends a lot of time yelling to Culber about how the danger is present, and I did not think he was talking about Ash Tyler.
One of the most shocking moments is the death of Doctor Culber, Lt Stamets Space -Boo, (as he is referred to by the fans), by Ash Tyler, when Ash experiences a bout of PTSD, after visiting L’Rel in prison. A lot of fans were very wound up about this, but the writers and the actor have assured us that they understand the importance of Culber and Stamets relationship, this is not a “Kill Your Gays” moment, and that we WILL see more of Culber in the future. Wilson Cruz, who plays Culber, says that some of his best work is yet to be seen on the show. And keep in mind that Star Trek has a long tradition of finding ways to bring characters back from the dead. (Spock has died twice. Once on the show, and once in the movies.)
I did enjoy the scene between Culber and Lorca. Culber is bold enough to confront Lorca on his behavior. In fact, outside of Michael, he’s the only other person I’ve ever seen call Lorca out on his bullshit.
The writers also assured viewers that there will be no evil version of Culber in this show. (If he does exist in this universe, then he is probably on the Mirrorverse version of Discovery, now trapped in the Prime universe.) And that’s if these particular human beings aren’t homophobic as well. If they are, then Culber and Stamets may not even exist as a couple, in the Mirrorverse.
Now you see why I was mad about not being able to binge this show. On the other hand, I would have finished it in a day and then I would’ve been angry I’d finished it so fast.
Should I give a review of next week’s show? I don’t know. I got other stuff to write, but I’m pretty caught up in this thing now. leave me comment, and let me know if I should keep going. I know some of you don’t get this show, and don’t want to pay for it, so hopefully my reviews will be entertaining.
Til’ next week, here’s to reckless eyeballing:
Cardi B is riding one hell of a wave. The popular Bodak Yellow rapper’s three latest singles have taken positions in the top ten of Billboard’s prestigious Hot 100, and Cardi shows no signs of slowing down in 2018. She’s featured on the new remix to the Bruno Mars single, “Finesse”, a throwback jam that […]
I’m putting this here as a musical interlude, and because I’m a big Bruno Mars fan. I’m especially proud of him after his stance with H&M. I still have no idea what songs Cardi B is famous for, though. I guess I need to watch some more music videos. Ya’ know…for science!
Oh, yeah this video is totally swingin’ that In Living Color /90s aesthetic, and I love it!