Tumblr Discussions #62

*I love the character Finn, (from Star Wars 7), and I’m always here for some Finn love, in the form of Meta-analysis on this character. There are so many people out there ready to dump on the only Black lead character in a Star Wars movie. There are White people harshing on Finn because he’s too Black and Black people hatin’ on him because he’s not Black enough. This analysis gets it just right.

lj-writes

Finn’s subversive decency

Choosing to be kind is not choosing to be passive. It’s choosing to end the cycle of abuse… . It’s a courageous act in itself.

-Melissa Grey on Cinderella

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*Of all the arguments occurring on Tumblr, the ones I find most intriguing, are the ones about Fandom. There are a lot of those. It seems to be very young people’s way of ironing out all the rules and regulations involved in being  “real fans”. This one is a discussion of exactly what slash fanfiction is, and what purpose it serves.

stitchmediamix organafinn

i can’t believe y’all made me write this

halfhardtorock:

steflovessamwilson:

arkynn:

markdoesstuff:

poseysprostate:

There’s a piece of meta going around that’s basically saying that mlm should have greater authority on what kinds of content should be produced from the slash community and I think that’s such a huge load of bullshit?  Slash isn’t, and was never about mlm.  Mlm are not the subjects of slash and yaoi works, they’ve always been proxies for the expression of women’s sexual/romantic fantasies.

This is not a bad thing and isn’t a thing that should be changed.

Yes, increasing amounts of men are becoming content creators for slash and yes, there are more stories about healthy and realistic relationships between men but there will always be works that contain tropes that appeal to women?  The failings of individual women to make a distinction between a fictional mlm as a sexual proxy and a real mlm is not the responsibility of the slash fandom?

Take the case of male pornographers producing lesbian porn for straight male consumers.  Does the idea of wlw arguing that these works do not depict realistic wlw relationships make sense?  Clearly not because that genre is not about depicting actual wlw and actual wlw culture.  If wlw create pornography for wlw then they’re really shifting into a different genre.  Although the subjects are technically the same (as in women are portraying these proxies) they are participating in conceptually distinct genres with different audiences.

And with increasing amounts of women consuming works relating to mlm sex, there’s been financial incentive for gay pornography studios to produce more naturalistic, relationship focused movies.  Certain JGV works and Western studios like Cockyboys have increasing numbers of female fans.  If you imagine a progression on this theme and we eventually have a pornography studio produced by women, producing content for women, using men having m-m sex, would and should women be given authority over the content and themes of all gay pornography?

In the fantasy industry, there are creators, there are consumers, and there are the characters and entities that mediate the fantasy – the subjects.  In BL, yaoi, and most slash, these aren’t mlm.  They’re proxies.  There is no genre requirement that they know anything about a mlm lifestyle or mlm culture or anything like that.  In bara, gay interest films, and in an increasing amount of general works, yeah they’re mlm.  They’re created for mlm to identify with.  That’s great!  There is no reasonable need to demand for the former genres to change because they aren’t about mlm.  A misunderstanding of this point only serves to further demonize women in their own spaces.

I pretty much ignore all the ridiculous discourse I see on this hellhole of a site these days but this is so Bad that I had to comment

This is supremely creepy, and viewing queer or gay or mlm as “proxies” is dehumanizing and weird and I can’t believe there is discourse defending this terrible idea. This is Bad, you should feel Bad, and no. You cannot absolve yourself of harmful representation just because it’s a different genre or because the intent of said genre is not for the consumption of mlm. Also: plenty of us queer and gay men write and read slash for our own purposes and this ignores that. And fetishization. And a million other things!!!

Also: COCKYBOYS. ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS. THAT IS THE SITE YOU REFERENCED???? Oh my god.

“The failings of individual women to make a distinction between a fictional mlm as a sexual proxy and a real mlm is not the responsibility of the slash fandom?”

This is on the same level as folks arguing about how they can “separate fiction from reality” whenever someone critiques a popular show and/or ship that depicts abuse or bigotry.

Also, “Mlm are not the subjects of slash and yaoi works” – the word you may be looking for is “audience”. Mlm are the literal subjects of the fanfiction. They are the focus, they are the characters driving the story. That makes them the subjects.

“Slash isn’t, and was never about mlm. Mlm are not the subject of slash and yaoi works, they’ve always been proxies for the expression of women’s sexual/romantic fantasies.”

THIS IS LITERALLY THE DEFINITION OF FETISHISING. Viewing members of a marginalized group as proxies for your sexual fantasies is WHAT THE PROBLEM IS. This is VERY MUCH SO a bad thing and this post is disgusting.

“Take the case of male pornographers producing lesbian porn for straight male consumers. Does the idea of wlw arguing that these works do not depict realistic wlw relationships make sense?”

Yes?

When lesbians have such few accessible products of their own and are highly fetishized by straight male-produced lesbian porn, this critique is valid.

When wlw can’t even find their own products because 98% of lesbian porn is made for the straight male gaze, thats a problem.

When some of the states where wlw have the least rights and experience the most violence have the highest number of lesbian porn searches on pornhub, this criticism matters.

The overwhelming amount of fetishistic lesbian porn made for the straight male gaze is a problem and critiquing this fetish, the way it dehumanizes wlw and asking for actual, inoffensive, non-fetishistic portrayals of wlw sexuality is valid.

Also this was a shit comparison in a lot of ways because wlw deal with objectification in a way white cis dudes do not.

OP needs to step back and just rethink all the crap they just spewed under the guise of wanting to be all about/exploring women’s sexuality.

Fetishizing queer people is never okay (and there’s a difference between writing about/being invested queer male characters and fetishizing them and fandom largely hasn’t figured out how to find that difference…)

*Finally someone did make a list of the rules and regulations of writing fanfiction:

thespoonslobeliastole:

glumshoe:

glumshoe:

Everyone’s familiar with “Rule 34 of the Internet: there is porn of any conceivable subject”.

Is there also a rule that states that fandom abhors a vacuum of sexually available slim white men to ship with each other, and any piece of media that doesn’t include at least two will invent them?

Should a piece of popular media include one (1) thin white boy, failure to include another thin white boy to ship him with will result in the most popular ships in a particular fandom…

1.) importing another thin white boy from an unrelated piece of media to pair him with, regardless of reciprocated canon relationships with female characters…

2.) interpreting a non-human character as a thin white boy, even a much, much older antagonist…

3.) shipping the thin white character with himself…

Related: if a fandom DOES include at least two thin white boys, but neither of them are lead characters, they will become the most popular ship in that fandom, preferred over non-white lead male characters who display affection towards one another….

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*This is an interesting little meta on White people’s peculiar ideas about PoC and  European history. I am reminded that most people’s ideas about History come largely from TV shows and movies, and that even if they do read History books, those rarely mention race. Even so, most White people consider Whiteness the default, so the assumption is that there were no PoC present, and that apparently we did not come into existence until slavery.

abbiehollowdays dangercupcakemurdericing

On performing race and performing authenticity

dangercupcakemurdericing:

There are two important things to know before I begin this post. I am a black person with white parents and I belong to a medieval reenactment organization.

I suppose the other thing you need to know is that within this organization, which is mainly white, even more so than the general US population, there is a subset of white people who try to re-create the culture and costume of predominantly nonwhite cultures, even though the organization is technically focused on Western Europe.

Simultaneously there is another subset of people who feel that people of color who are involved in the organization, such as myself, should only portray ourselves as foreign visitors to Western cultures because anything else would be unrealistic. This is laughably untrue of course, but it certainly is a thought process some people have, to the point where they find my portrayal which actually is more plausible than most of the “I was kidnapped by Rromani people, sold to a sultan’s harem and then I ended up in Japan which is why I can wear a kimono” kind of back stories you hear.

But regardless if you dig deep enough on the Internet you find people complaining about how people color participating is ruining their immersion. Which I would’ve thought something that would’ve ruined their immersion would be people from completely different centuries spread across large geographic regions interacting with each other, but you can’t really expect logic from racists.

Anyway because of this I try to be as scrupulous with my research as possible, but honestly I like the subversion of taking this whitewashed history and smearing my blackness across it. Because I’m not making up a fiction actually, any more than any of the rest of the people involved in the organization are, the woman I portray is very much a person who could have existed and if that’s disquieting I want people to think about why that is disquieting to them.

Why is the myth of the lily white Europe only recently invaded by foreign barbarians so popular? Why is it impossible to imagine intercultural exchange that didn’t rest on a system of modern racial domination? I want my presence to make them question what they think they know and how they have to envision history to be comfortable with the present.

I know that some of the people of color involved envision that the person portraying as a white person, but I spent enough of my life being paved over with white bricks that I didn’t feel the need to do that and something I do for fun and I think it is disingenuous anyway, given all the sidestepping we do from the exactness of history.

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*Okay, there isn’t anything I needed to add to this, I just wanted to preserve this because of Bigskydreaming’s EPIC clapback on the laziness, and lack of imagination, of writers who use shitty excuses for not writing PoC into any of their narratives. 

bigskydreaming:

solvola:

bizarrolord:

hijadepavlov:

When will racists stop crying “censorship” every time audiences demand that creators produce better content if we’re expected to buy it?

We are not the fucking government, we aren’t throwing anyone in jail for being a talentless racist shitstain. We are exercising our right to free speech by calling a racist creator “racist”, just like the racist creator is exercising their right to free speech by publishing their shitty ass work.

Unfortunately, many times a creator’s work is personal first and what sells later.

And I think that unfairly smearing someone as “racist” when there’s a decent reason they might not be writing characters of color (such as the “write what you know” maxim applied to a white author who may not want to give offense when writing a non-white character because they don’t know enough about the experiences of being non-white to write a character like that well).

I personally always thought that this wasn’t about diversity and representation at all. It was about fannish entitlement hidden behind a cloak of progressiveness. (Further confirmed by people who keep asking for diverse characters constantly nitpicking the ones they do get because they’re essentially not Mary Sues/Gary Stus/wish-fulfillment characters.)

Well, judging from the trends, it looks like bigotry sells, so that’s not it. We just don’t want to give our money to someone who’s insufferably insensitive and clearly hasn’t read a single article on any social issue (other than conservative conspiracy theories about the next liberal boogeyman and the dooms of socialism, I guess), and if anti-SJW tripe isn’t censorship, then neither is this.

Your point in the second paragraph seems to be incomplete, but if you were going to say that “unfairly smearing someone as racist” is akin to censorship (maybe because it might affect sales, I dunno), once more with feeling, that’s not what censorship is – and I even dare you to give me a single example of someone or something being “unfairly smeared as racist”, because chances are that accusation is wholly pertinent, but people just don’t understand enough about the subject of racism to get why it’s pertinent – thus being more a problem of lack of research done (a very common ailment these days) than unfair accusations of racism with no base or substance.

Whenever someone or their work is accused of bigotry, the knee-jerk reaction is always to go on the defensive, on the denial, and bring up intent, when none of those things matter for what’s in question. Someone or something is racist when it aligns with white supremacist or nationalist beliefs, when it validates or is conducive to unjust racial dynamics or stereotypes against non-white people, when it instigates or nurtures negative beliefs and attitudes, hostile sentiment and normalized or even desirable violence towards non-white people – and all of this will happen if something is set up to do so regardless of intent. That’s why there’s that expression “intent isn’t magic”, because intent will not prevent the consequences of unintentional bigotry no matter how clear it might’ve been.

Lastly, as for your two more fandom and creativity-oriented points: I don’t think “writing what you know” is a good excuse, quite frankly, because it discourages people from doing their research and from getting out of their bubble, leading to precisely the kind of unfair and unrealistic homogeneous lack of diversity that media in general is well known for, from stories to characters to casting. It’s lazy, it’s unoriginal, it’s overdone, and it’s entirely unhelpful to various sizeable chunks of people in your audience. If you’re a white, cis, straight, non-disabled male author, “writing what you know” will alienate non-white people, women, LGBT people, and disabled people in your audience from your work entirely, at least as far as identification and relatability go. If that’s what’s desirable, then I think I must have missed the memo, because the artistic paradigm of reaching audiences as far and wide as possible must have changed while I was sleeping.

If you use that excuse to justify not writing diversity, then people will hold you accountability for being lazy and backwards, and under free speech, people have every right to do so, just as you are allowed to retort or not even listen.

Regarding fandom entitlement, to keep it short, I think fandom entitlement looks like fans harassing actors and producers because their abusive ship wasn’t made canon. I think it looks like fans sending death or rape threats to actors of color and female actors (or both at the same time) because they weren’t happy to see an interracial canon couple on screen. I think it looks like fandom being in uproar every time someone dares say something remotely critical even when it’s pertinent. I think “only positivity always, no criticism/“hate” ever” looks like fandom entitlement, too. I think harboring abusers, violent bigots, rapists, and pedophiles in the name of “fandom positivity” looks quite like it also.

To me, fandom entitlement definitely doesn’t look like fans expecting media created last year or this year to be sufficiently diverse and progressive, it doesn’t look like fans expecting their existence to be acknowledged and portrayed respectfully and in a constructive manner, and it also doesn’t look like fans being critical of any attempts at diversity that end up doing more harm than good, or no good at all, because they were written by someone who “wrote what they knew” and didn’t go and do their damn research.

To add on real quick, falling back on the ‘write what you know’ maxim is bullshit, because since time immemorial, audiences, publishers and Hollywood have been perfectly comfortable expecting black writers to write white characters. Its not actually about writing what you want first, and what sells later, because for marginalized writers, the issue before them has ALWAYS been when sitting down to begin a book or a screenplay, they have to ask themselves – are they going to write what they know, are they going to represent themselves in their own work, or are the chances of such a work getting published so slim that they’re better off writing about white characters whose experiences don’t reflect theirs at all, etc.

Death to the write what you know misinterpretation, because it is bullshit and it has always been bullshit. First off, that quote has NEVER been justification for confining your creative output to the narrow margin of what you have personally experienced in life. It is about building your story or your characters around a core foundation of something that resonates with you and your experiences, something you have intimate knowledge of and can build from in terms of mood, its about passion and forming a connection with your work and through it laying down a road for readers to connect with you and your underlying reasons for writing something. It is THEMATIC, not SUPERFICIAL.

If write what you know were as sacrosanct as people would like to pretend in conversations like this, entire genres of fiction would not exist. Fantasy would not exist. Science fiction would not exist. Mystery novels would solely be the province of retired cops and detectives. Only veterans would write military adventures. Medical and political thrillers? Only doctors and politicians, thanks. You would need two masters degrees and a doctorate in historical fields of study to even be able to pitch something set a thousand years ago. And forget about including characters of a different gender, class, or educational background than your own!

Fuck off. That has never been what write what you know means, AND EVERYONE KNOWS IT. Write what you know means when penning a story about a boy wizard discovering magic and adventure and an impossible destiny no one can relate to, ground it in emotions people CAN identify with, imbue him with feelings of loneliness and neglect and a desperate yearning to be wanted and loved and appreciated that you can channel directly from your own soul onto the paper for people to pick up on and use as their grounding rod while venturing into your imagined world that holds very little similarity to anything anyone knows from the real world, other than the emotions that underpin everything in it.

Write what you know means when writing a script about a boy on a distant desert planet beneath two sons discovering his inner power as he sets off on a quest to destroy an imperialistic tyrant, center that story around archetypal narrative structures and themes that have resonated with audiences since the beginning of time – the simple farmboy who rises to greatness, fathers and sons, family honor, redemption and sins of the father, etc, etc.

Write what you know is a guideline, unless you are writing a goddamn autobiography you are expected and even encouraged to use what you know as a baseline template you step outside of to pull other experiences that AREN’T yours closer to, using your actual experiences to connect audiences to the parts of the story that neither you or them can automatically connect to because they are FICTIONAL EXPERIENCES.

If you’re not actually writing a goddamn autobiography, write what you know is not actually a computer function that copies and pastes your life directly onto the page and punishes any deviation from that material with a slap on the wrist and career ruination. No reader in the history of reading has ever put down a science fiction adventure with a disappointed frown and a ‘whoa whoa whoa, I thought I was buying a book by an actual intergalactic space captain who know what the hell he was talking about when repelling pirates trying to take his ship but this dude is just a fucking librarian from Sacramento? Hell no, I am addressing this in my one star review and telling all my friends not to try this author, he is a FRAUD.’

Write what you know didn’t stop Tolkien from reinventing the fantasy genre with the adventures of four foot tall hairy barefoot badasses trekking across a landscape of walking trees and talking eagles to throw a magic ring into a volcano. Yet somehow, it seems to bar stories about black Chosen Ones slaying dragons in medieval inspired settings because that’s unrealistic, black kids don’t fit in fictional settings like that.

Write what you know doesn’t stop fans from becoming ‘fluent’ in made up languages like Elvish and Klingon, but three lines of Spanish in a story somehow pulls them right out of it.

Write what you know doesn’t stop schoolteachers from googling espionage and military jargon and researching the most obscure factoids of crimes and serial killers and the lives of famous spies or historical military figures and going on to write bestselling crime or spy or political thrillers. Yet somehow it seems to block any attempts to put similar work and research and attention to detail into anything related to non-white characters, lives or experiences like the second google realizes they’re asking about something non-white it clutches its pearls and refuses to divulge anything but a 404 Error Not Found screen.

Okay, so I lied, I didn’t add on anything real quick, but let me just sum up real fast.

In conclusion: fuck your write what you know. It has never stopped white writers from writing beyond the boundaries of their experiences, researching the crap out of shit they know nothing about, or kept white readers from identifying with characters they can not possibly have anything in common with other than underlying thematic connections, on account of, y’know, NOT BEING FOUR FOOT TALL HAIRY BAREFOOT HOBBITS FROM MIDDLE FUCKING EARTH.

Writers have always been able to write characters who have different life experiences than them.

Readers have always been able to connect with characters who have different life experiences than them.

Refusing to write about non-white characters? Refusing to read about non-white characters?

It’s not because you can’t. It’s not because it wouldn’t be authentic. It’s not because some magical rule of writing prohibits you and you’ll lose your writing card for daring to venture outside your margin of personal life experiences.

It’s for one reason and one reason only.

YOU. JUST. DON’T. WANT. TO.

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*I just liked this:

What “Ghetto” Names Really Mean

robregal:

feministsmadefromfire:

“Tinashe” –  Means “God is with us” in Shona ( An African language spoken by nearly 80 percent of people in Zimbabwe.)

“Lakeisha” – A Swahili name meaning “favorite one.”

“Ashanti” –  Name of a powerful African empire in West Africa.

“Tanisha” – Hausa of West Africa name meaning “born on Monday.”

“Zola” – Means “quiet, tranquil” in Zulu.

“Amandla” –  Zulu and Xhosa word meaning “power”. The word was a popular rallying cry in the days of resistance against Apartheid.

“Zendaya” – Means “ To Give Thanks” in Shona

“Latonia”  A Latin name. Latonia was the mother of Diana in Roman mythology.

“Lulu” – Swahili and Muslim name meaning “pearl” or “precious.”

“Ciara” –  Means “dark-haired” in Irish Gaelic

“Lateefah” – A North African name meaning “gentle and pleasant.”

“Mercedes” – Means “Gracious gifts/Benefits) in Spanish

“Kaya” –  Ghanaian name meaning “stay and don’t go back.”

“Amara” –  The Swahili word amara, meaning “urgent business.” Also the Hindu name meaning “immortal.”

“Shanika” – African Bantu name, meaning “young one from the wilderness.

“Zuri” – Means “beautiful” in Swahili.

“Onika” – Word of African origin meaning “warrior.”

JUST BECAUSE A NAME SOUNDS DIFFERENT DOES NOT MEAN IT’S “RATCHET” OR “GHETTO” THEY HAVE BEAUTIFUL MEANINGS.

DON’T BE IGNORANT, LEARN.

Reblog every time it hits the dash.

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*I hope this is a real movie, and not people just trolling me. If so, I’m here for it!

entertainingtheidea:

Watch the official trailer for J.D. Dillard’s sci-fi drama Sleight, out in U.S. theaters on April 7th.

The story follows a young street magician (played by Collateral Beauty’s Jacob Latimore) who is left to care for his little sister after their parents passing and turns to illegal activities to keep a roof over their heads. When he gets in too deep, his sister is kidnapped and he is forced to use his magic and brilliant mind to save her.

Seychelle Gabriel, Dulé Hill, SNL’s Sasheer Zamata, and Storm Reid (who will soon lead the cast of Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time) are co-starring.

 

And some Introvert thoughts:

introvertunites: “ If you’re an introvert, follow @introvertunites. ”

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2 thoughts on “Tumblr Discussions #62

  1. “Slash isn’t, and was never about mlm. Mlm are not the subject of slash and yaoi works, they’ve always been proxies for the expression of women’s sexual/romantic fantasies.”

    I’ve had this conversation several times on this blog. I agree. This statement infuriates many people for very good reasons but it remains accurate.

    To an extent.

    I think this only applies to slash written by straight women who come at it with a fetishistic perspective that’s strictly about a fantasy where they project themselves into idealized relationships that don’t come with the power differential they experience in their IRL relationship with men, with the added ‘titillation’ (that’s how they see it, no need to beat around the bushes, pun intended) of boy-on-boy action.

    All slash writers aren’t straight women however, and they don’t all come at the material with a perspective tainted with straight privilege. The quoted statement completely erases a significant part of slash fandom.

    I still say hetero badfic with 2 characters who have male names should be identified as a genre completely different from realistic, humane and nuanced portrayal of gay relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was always my theory as regards slash written by straight women. And I’d always made the distinction between fiction written by LGBT people, vs slash written by straight women.

      But then a lot of Tumblr arguments seem to feature very young people (18-29) trying to figure out how stuff works, so some of their fights seem like things us old people came to conclusions about years ago, but just never discussed.

      Liked by 1 person

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