And the discussions about racism in the various fandoms and how it manifests continues. A lot of people want to be insulted by these criticisms, but I look on it as an attempt to make a person’s writing better. These are valid criticisms. That they’re being given by individuals who are completely exhausted at having to explain, “Yet Again”, why its not right to make slave AUs of Finn and Black Panther, or write the deaths of Black characters,so as to remove them so you can ship two White characters, is beside the point.
But first, a bit of humor. This is only something you’ll get if you’ve watched Hannibal the Series mutliple times, though.
Imagine everything that sheep in Su-Zukana saw, from the guy in the horse to Hannibal and Will’s near-murder cuddles in the stables.
Imagine if she wrote a tell-all book about that night.
Pshaw. This book was a self serving work of FICTION. Beulah Jean totally glosses over the fact that she RECEIVED HEAD SCRITCHES from HANNIBAL LECTER ON THR NIGHT IN QUESTION! Wake up, sheeple. This is far from the unbiased account we deserve! Don’t let her pull the wool over your eyes!
I have nothing to add to some of these critiques. Some things just are wrong.
The interesting thing about discussing unpopular black female characters with certain fans is that many of them will openly acknowledge that fandom racism and racism in the media is a real thing, but will then go on to argue why a certain black female character should be written off the show, or sidelined, or killed off or be kept away from the white male lead. These fans know that fandom racism is a problem, but in their minds, their hatred for the character is completely justified. They know the trends. They know the pattern of black female characters repeatedly being abused by the fandom, but will still go on to list dozens of relatively benign reasons why a black female character should be written off the show. They like to argue that this time it’s different. This time it isn’t racial bias that’s driving their hatred of the character. This time it’s completely justified! So, next time when we’re listing all the black female characters that have been completely destroyed by the fandom, be sure to put a little asterisk next to so-and-so’s name, because that time was totally different.
Well, guess what? That whole list would be full of asterisks because to you, there’s always a perfectly valid reason for wanting the death of a black female character. There’s always a perfectly reasonable explanation for why the black female lead of a show should be sidelined and stripped of her status as leading lady. Whether it be Martha Jones, Iris West, Bonnie Bennett, Tulip O’Hare, Michonne, Gwen, Annie Sawyer, Braeden or any other intensely disliked black female character, the response is always the same. You may think you have perfectly valid reasons for disliking these women, but the fact is that they create a pattern. And whether you like it or not, your hatred is feeding into that pattern.
This is why no-one wants to break from the norm of creating white characters because no-one will say ‘racism’ or ‘sexism’.
However when creating a character who is not a male or a white person, people tend to complain like this and call racism or sexism if something bad happens to that character.
At the end of the day it’s the writer’s call what happens to character or not. If you want a black female character that doesn’t die, write a story yourself.
Um, did you even read my original post? I wasn’t talking about the lack of representation, I was talking about the racist response from audience members during the rare moments when we actually do get representation. I literally gave you a list of black female characters that this has happened to. And while I agree that we should have more prominent writers of color, you have to realize that there are already legions of poc writers out there, but they either can’t get their stuff published (because of racism) or their material isn’t given the proper amount of publicity it deserves (also because of racism).
Also, one more thing. When people of color complain about the lack of representation in the media, please do not tell them to simply “do it yourself.” First of all, as I listed above, people are already doing it themselves, but aren’t being recognized for it. And second, telling people to simply do it themselves is a not-so-veiled attempt at letting white writers who promote racist material off the hook. White writers should be held to a certain standard. It shouldn’t always be up to us to tell them to stop being racist. They should know this themselves.
People are still arguing about Finn with people who absolutely refuse to see him as a viable candidate for being shipped with Rey, and craft any and all manner of bullshit as to why they won’t ship the two main characters in the movie. Finn has the most screen time of any male character in the entire movie. He is, unquestionably, one of the leading good guys, but some people would rather craft elaborate fantasies about how wrong he is for Rey, rather than acknowledge that they just don’t want to ship a Black man with a White woman.
This writer brings up another point not often made by critics. Black men do not get “woobified” in fandom. There’s not a single man of color, anywhere in fandom that gets the “woobie” treatment. This is something reserved exclusively for white male characters (many of them are often villains). When you consider that most of the people who are writing fandom consists of White women, from middle class backgrounds, most of them under thirty, then you need to ask why that is.
@onelonecandle: “Finn is an emotionally relatable character, but not in the same ways that Kylo Ren is. Even when Finn is displaying fear and stress in the film, it is frequently made out to be funny (and that’s a great example of differences in character representation between black and white actors based on racial stereotyping).”
Even the opening shot, before we ever seen FN-2187′s face, the camera work is giving us a sympathetic POV on him. The dizzying whirl is meant to evoke a panic attack. Just because Finn gets to smile more in his giddy (and terrifying) new life doesn’t mean he’s not written or portrayed sympathetically.
I think you’re overlooking how carefully we’re taught to give sympathy to white men in fiction. Even when that white man is acting reprehensibly.
(Quick example with misogyny rather than racism: how many fans of Breaking Bad thought that Skyler White was an absolute bitch for protecting her family from her drug-dealing husband, and that Walter was being held back by her terrible bitchiness? Answer: far too many.)
Fandom has the same racial empathy gap that exists in the rest of our culture(s). Add in the echo chamber effect of fandom (enough people say that Driver made Kylo sympathetic and Boyega/the writers didn’t do the same for Finn), and suddenly a nuanced performance by Boyega is viewed as anything but.
In my opinion, Adam Driver, with less than 20 minutes of screen time, did not manage to portray Kylo Ren with more sympathy than Boyega with his 40+ minutes of screen time. That’s mostly on the audience.
@contains-the-force: “…Imagine John with golden/yellow eyes and that cocky/cute grin of his!”
Or let him keep his natural dark eyes, which are lovely?
In context, this was related to sad, brooding male characters with certain feminine emotive traits made popular by anime.
In fairness, almost every one of those sympathetic prettyboy anime characters that my generation swooned over in high school was represented as white or asian.
You make good points and my argument was a little scattered there.
I’m sorry but that… wasn’t the context. It wasn’t about anime at all. The context was that the quote above followed a comparison between Black villians and white villains – that Black villains are “hard” and “self-contained,” while white villains are “soft, emotionally raw, feminine white boys.” And because of internalized racism on the part of the writers and directors, Kylo Ren was a more well-written, well-acted character, while Finn was a stereotype because he had funny moments. If John had been given the superior Kylo role and pulled it off as well as Adam, everyone would love him.
But this follow-up confirms what I’d already gleaned from the conversation – that it was more about liking brooding white guys than villains, since sympathetic Black villains like The Operative are not seen as sympathetic. Which is exactly what @receiptsyall is talking about. The empathy gap is real, and while media certainly contributes to that, when a Black character is sympathetic but the audience can’t see it, there is a problem with the audience as well.
You really need to go to the Tumblr page and read the entire post. Its very enlightening.
Fandom culture posts that overwhelmingly describe how the state of fandom is worse now than it was before always put me to sleep because one of the most prevalent differences between what we have now to what we had then is that people started becoming more vocal about the kinds of negative and problematic things going on in fiction and fandom culture as a whole.
Like. I just saw a post talking about how if a person grew up in today’s fandom culture, they would be terrified and unable to enjoy things. Simultaneously, this person used two caps to emphasize this point: “EW GROSS YOU’RE A PEDOPHILE” for liking one ship or “OMG THAT SHIP IS ABUSIVE” to describe another.
I remember growing up in fandom and the kinds of things that I liked. For example: I fucked heavy with Twilight back when it came out. I passed the threshold for caring about Harry Potter and didn’t really have a vested interest in the series, but Twilight was the shit to me. It had a darker element to it than the books I was reading and the characters were compelling, blah blah blah, that whole shebang. I had been writing some stories prior to this, but Twilight was the one thing that saw me actually put work into grooming my writing abilities. I got involved in a writer’s club at my school, my friends and I geeked out about the characters and would come up with our own terrible knock-offstories that were centered around the supernatural, vampires and werewolves because it was really cool.
Fast forward to me discovering this blue hellsite called “Tumblr.”
An analysis of how Blade sits within the MCU, and the superhero genre in general. (Another film I think deserves analysis within the superhero genre is Unbreakable by M. Night Shyamalan.)
I also want to point out the whitewashing of the Blade franchise. As the films became more popular, and the budgets got slightly larger, the cast became whiter and whiter, until you have the complete WTF*ery going on in that last film. You went from a movie that was set in a black neighborhood, with a WoC as the co-lead, and its full representation of both humans and vampires, to token representation in the second film, with an Asian man, Hispanic woman, and a Black guy, to no representation at all in the third film, (although the third film did wonders for White feminists, though.)
Whitewashing doesn’t just mean exchanging characters of color with White people, in movies. Whitewashing is also about increasing the number of White characters in a show, or movie franchise, to the detriment of characters of color. This even extends to whole networks. Remember when Fox began as a network? Networks usually get a foot in the door by appealing to minorities. As the network strives to become more mainstream, shows that appealed to minorities are expunged, in favor of whiter casts and series, until PoC are all but absent from that network. Fox is a perfect example of whitewashing, and so is Teen Wolf.
And that’s the real difference between Blade and the superhero franchises that have followed. Blade was never a big-name character in the first place. So there wasn’t a whole lot of retro-geek enthusiasm associated with the character. But more than that, Blade, the film, simply isn’t backwards-looking.
There’s none of the Greatest Generation boosterism that clings to the Captain America franchise, for example. Nor do we get from Blade the home front 50s stay-at-home mom-with-kids meme that pops up incongruously in Age of Ultron when we get to meet Hawkeye’s secret, perfect family.
Instead, Blade is deliberately, defiantly hip. Motherhood isn’t idealized; on the contrary, one of the queasier moments of the film involves Blade ruthlessly offing his feral, incestuously sexual, evil vampire mom. If there is nostalgia, it’s for blaxploitation’s up-to-the-minute cool.
The movie’s first grinding, sweaty, sex-and-blood drenched night club scene hasn’t dated at all. Nor has the Afrocentric incense store where Blade buys his formula fix, nor the black, brotherhood embrace between that store’s owner and the hero. There’s a notable lack of cell phones, of course, and the computer graphics prophesying the coming of the blood god look rather dated. But there’s little question that, as much as it’s able, the film is looking forward not back.
And part of the reason it’s looking forward, I think, is race. Blade—unlike most superhero films—is set in a meaningfully integrated world. That Afrocentric shop suggests, quietly but definitely, that Blade is part of a black community and that that community matters to him. One of his two crime-fighting companions Dr. Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright), is also black.
The diverse cast, and the acknowledgement of diverse communities, is part of why the film still feels and looks relevant. Here, after all, is a narrative that was fulfilling the call for more diverse superhero movies before superhero movies were even a thing.
But beyond that, Blade makes clear the extent to which nostalgia and whiteness are inextricably bound together in so much of the superhero genre. Retooling old, old pop-culture heroes means, inevitably, dreaming about white saviors and about a time when white people were the only ones who were allowed to be heroes.
A lot of us have talked a lot about how Blade started the current superhero domination in Hollywood and how current films forget that; and though it’s important to ask what kinds of behind-the-scenes decisions have caused that, I like this analysis about how Blade is fundamentally different from what we’re getting today and how that film is, in many ways, incompatible with today’s Ant-Men and Men of Steel.
More on how White villains get “woobified” in fandom narratives, and PoC, who are sometimes not even the villains, don’t get sympathy or empathy. Really, check out the whole article. Its all well stated.
(Something Rukmini Pande said in the @fansplaining Race and Fandom podcast reminded me of this old meta I never got around to posting, so here it is, updated for 2016. Contains spoilers for In the Flesh series 2 (you can watch the whole series on Hulu). Thanks to @psmith73 for input and feedback!)
The Bad Guy of Color
In movies and on TV, we’re used to seeing people of color – especially men of color – as bad guys. You’ve got your drug lords, your terrorists, and your gang leaders (but not the “cool” white-friendly kind like mafia kingpins or bikers), all in a variety of shades of brown and black. As a rule, Bad Guys of Color have a few things in common: They’re scary (like, white folks’ worst nightmare scary), they’re The Other against white protagonists, and they’re not sympathetic characters.
Most of the time, there is no attempt to make us sympathize with the BGOC, because it might make it hard for us to watch them die, sometimes by the dozen. Usually, they don’t even give us a reason to hate them (exceptions, like Victor Sweet in John Singleton’s Four Brothers, who is shown as fully unsympathetic when he treats another Black man like a dog, are usually Black-written characters).
These are not the captivating villains. They’re not the Negan, The Governor, the Walter White, let alone the Loki, Joker, or Kylo Ren. They’re undeveloped, nondimensional, and more than a little racist.
When a person of color is written as a sympathetic villain, a developed character, they should be sympathized with, right? Especially if the character isn’t, as they say, defined by race?
Meet Maxine Martin, played by Wunmi Mosaku.
Okay, that’s it! I’m going to start watching The Flash in support of Candice Patton, cause seriously, people! What kind of fu***ry is this?
White feminism is a hell of a drug…
You know what I don’t understand? Certain fans who are intent on proving that Candice and Danielle hate each other. I’ve come across 2 or 3 blogs this week that have been spreading nasty rumors about Candice bullying Danielle and doing things behind her back in order to decrease her screentime on the show. Like…what is this, the Twilight fandom? Grow the fuck up. These assholes like to pretend to be supportive of women, but when one of those women is black, all of a sudden, that support is thrown right out the window. There is zero evidence that Candice or Danielle have any ill will towards each other. Each and every time they’ve been out together in public, they’ve been nothing but gracious and kind. The reason certain fans want to stir up trouble is because they need a reason to hate Candice. They know they’ve lost the battle of trying to sideline Iris West as a character, so they’ve resorted to making up racist and sexist rumors accusing her of bullying her co-starts and even sleeping with the producers. Yes, you heard me right. There are blogs here on Tumblr accusing Candice of sleeping with the producers. Instead of believing that a gorgeous talented black actress used her charm, talent and intellect to get the job, these assholes are spreading rumors that the only reason why she was cast as Iris West is because she slept with Grant Gustin and the producers. Like, could you be any more transparent? You’re not racist, but you spend all day spreading rumors about how the only black girl on set is fucking everyone in sight and bullying her co-stars?
Donald Trump’s candidacy got ya’ll feeling braver than a motherfucker, I swear…
Honestly, I just wanted to put this here for posterity. I loved this answer. Now this is professional level snark.
I don’t hate ya’ll. I think ya’ll are cute, honestly. It’s like I’m your mentor and you are all my mentees. And so you all look up to me and think I’m an amazing role model so you want to dress just like me, talk like me, have what I have. You want my boyfriend, you want my family, my culture, you want to say what I say. And at first it’s like aw haha that’s so cute they want to be just like me but then you’re ALWAYS there and you’re ALWAYS talking like me and it starts to get annoying and I’m like HEY BE YOURSELF PLEASE I don’t want to teach you to be a copycat, or a follower. BE A LEADER BE YOU. DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE? And I mean you love me so much that you’ll go under the knife of SURGERY to be like me. You love me so much that you’ll get beat up just so you can say the N word. It’s flattering, but annoying. That’s how it feels to be black. It feels like mentoring a little ass kid that goes too far and starts looking cool doing what I’m doing, that steals my ideas and profits off them to the point where I dislike them and I’m like
I think I mentioned something on this issue before, about how the only thing White fans have to work with when it comes to PoC, are decades of stereotypes. Writers who are less talented, less aware, unwilling to examine, or just plain lazy, will only reproduce the stereotypes they’ve been given about PoC all their lives. (Yeah, okay sometimes they’re just straight out racists.)
Real writers, people who care about, and want to hone, their craft, will pay attention to these types of critiques. These critiques are not an indictment against the writer. They are made to suggest improvements. If your’e not willing to use these critiques to learn or improve your craft, and make bullshit excuses for writing these stereotypes, than either your talents simply aren’t up to snuff, or you’re just a bigot.
Also there’s more on the Strong Black Woman stereotype, where it came from, how damaging it is, and why its okay not to be one. This is details how the stereotypes for White women are different from the stereotypes for Black women. White feminism doesn’t take into account how there are stereotypes for different groups of women. Asian, Muslim, Latinas, all have different stereotypes from each other, and Black women, all of which are designed to shut all women up and keep them subservient. Mikki Kendall also addresses this in her tweets about Strong Black Women.
Examples of the SBW are: Queenie, from season 5 of American Horror Story, taken to extremes in her case, and Gina Torres character from Suits. Actually Gina has made a career out of the Black character who feels no pain. Don’t believe me? Remember how she reacted all through all of the show Firefly and in Serenity after her husband dies? And how her character Bella planned to go through stage four lung cancer without any help from her husband, Jack? All of Gina’s characters are always tough as nails.
(Part 2) 1) Evil/seductress out to steal your man or 2) the much less threatening motherly (often overweight and/or ignorant) maime. This has carried over from centuries worth of literature into movies and tv shows. Progressivism is no antidote for racism. Neither, is liberalism or conservatism. Racism is a heart condition not simply a worldview. If you don’t believe that, study the writings of Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger (a progressive white woman) and “The Negro Project”.
^All very good points! The relationship between black women and white women has been poisonous from the the very start.
and that’s totally your right!! I’m not here to tell anybody how they should feel about how their own people are represented. All I can tell you is that a lot of black women have written about how the strong, independent black woman trope is damaging and I take them at their word!
blogs like lookatthewords and jhenne-bean are both blogs ran by black women who have talked about Tiana in length before if you feel like talking about it with someone who has a foot in the door, so to speak 🙂
Well it’s pretty damn damaging trope considering the “strong, independent black woman” who don’t need no man, nor help, apparently is so imbedded in society that white people literally believe black people feel less pain and therefore are administered less pain medicine in need and are given less sympathy when experiencing pain because it’s assumed we’ve been hardened by this life and can “just take it.”
There’s a reason these tropes like “angry black woman” and “strong independent black women” exist, and it isn’t in our favor. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with being independent and I think it is a result of the life we’ve for the most part been forced to lead, but ya gotta realize if we’re subjected to just an independent black woman trope, always tough and always in control, then we’re the joke. We have no femininity. In fact, we’re interchangeable with Black men.
Plus I don’t see why being soft, which shouldn’t even be synonym to sub servant and helpless, is a regressive trait. Needing and relying on help does not make you weak; it makes you human. The fact that society likes to push us into this singular story of the strong and independent black woman with few other facades should make you wary as it perpetuates this idea that we’re in no need of sympathy. Empathy,
Therefore you can be a 19-year old teenage girl in need of help after a car accident, but i’m going to shot you in the back of the head because the idea of a Black woman actually needing help as opposed to being the Help is such a bizarre concept that my life feels threatened, right?
Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes.
And I’d like to add this link, as it specifically regards young Black children and fantastical stories. The focus is on sci-fi, but the moral works here too, primarily the takeaway of:
Realism has become a trap for black children and they realize it.
Clutch.com had a thinkpiece on the phrase (+ the internalization of “strong” being the superior and only way for us to operate) stripping away our humanity. BuzzFeed (bear with me) has onethat dissects a few current Black women on television, which might help. Mikki Kendall (Karnythia) also has a Storify page housing some great tweets on the subject.
Lookatthewords already hit on the dangers of perpetuating the strong don’t-need-no-help Black woman as a trope, and it certainly helps no one to insist that it is the only portrayal of Black women illustrated in the media.
- Sometimes we want escapism and that is okay.
- Sometimes we want to be romanced and desired and that is okay.
- Sometimes we want to be the Princess right off the bat, without having to slave for our restaurant castle, and that is okay.
- Sometimes we just want to be saved, and that is okay.
There is nothing wrong with being soft, or being the princess, or needing help: you can be all those things and still recognized as a Black woman— as a person. Still be a good example.
Imo, it is better to imagine (and write, and portray) black women of all ages in multifaceted and rounded ways.