Reading Black Pop Culture

I just wanted to list a few resources for understanding the history of Black representation in Science Fiction and Fantasy film and comic books. I’ve only read a few of these though. The rest are on my TBR pile for the rest of the year.

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Articles:

We’ll start with Samuel R. Delaney’s famous essay. I’ve been offering this essay to everyone on Tumblr as the answer to their questions on why we’ve been seeing so much blatant racism in fandom. It also answers the question on why people like the Sad Puppies exist.

http://www.nyrsf.com/racism-and-science-fiction-.html

—–Delany countered that the current Hugo debacle has nothing to do with science fiction at all. “It’s socio-economic,” he said. In 1967, as the only black writer among the Nebula nominees, he didn’t represent the same kind of threat. But Delany believes that, as women and people of color start to have “economic heft,” there is a fear that what is “normal” will cease to enjoy the same position of power. “There are a lot of black women writers, and some of them are gay, and they are writing about their own historical moment, and the result is that white male writers find themselves wondering if this is a reverse kind of racism. But when it gets to fifty per cent,” he said, then “we can talk about that.” It has nothing to do with science fiction, he reiterated. “It has to do with the rest of society where science fiction exists.”

https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/samuel-delany-and-the-past-and-future-of-science-fiction

 

If you enjoy Black Panther this weekend, here are some  interesting sources of entertainment to follow up:

https://www.theroot.com/a-guide-to-fantasy-and-science-fiction-made-for-black-p-1820396166

Books:

All of these are books are available on Amazon:

https://bookriot.com/2017/06/22/for-ob-day-5-science-fiction-and-fantasy-women-of-color-authors-to-read-after-octavia-butler/

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Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction by [Carrington, André M.]
Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes by [Nama, Adilifu]
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Star Trek Discovery: Review of Season One

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The Plot:

When we last discussed this show, the Discovery was stranded in the Mirror Universe, where our characters encountered their worst selves, and had to touch base with the darkest part of their natures to survive. many of them worried that they might not recover from the ordeal, and some didn’t. Ash  discovered he was the surgically altered Klingon Voq, and attacked  Michael.  Captain Lorca originated from the Mirrorverse, and more than likely, the original Gabriel Lorca is dead.

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Michael Burnham encounters a dark version of Philippa Gheorgiou, who is the Emperor of the Terran Empire. Captain Lorca, and the Burnham of that universe, became lovers, and betrayed her, teaming together to form a coup against her. When Dark/Philippa discovers that this Michael is not her adopted daughter, the two of them team up to defeat Lorca, and he is killed. The Discovery makes it back to its own universe, but the mushroom spores they used to travel there, are all destroyed, and they overshoot their mark, and land nine months in the future, where they find that the Klingons are winning the war.

Because of the death of their leader, the Klingon clans never united and are now contesting among themselves to see how many humans they can kill. Earth is about to be attacked, as well. Having kidnapped Philippa from the Mirrorverse, Michael enlists her aid in defeating the Klingons. Philippa’s solution is to destroy the Klingon homeworld, but Michael talks her out of the idea by giving the power to destroy the Klingons to L’Rel, who uses her new weapon to unite the Klingons, which brings about the end of the war.

Realizing he has no future in Starfleet, Ash Tyler accompanies L’Rel on her mission. Philippa is free to go her way,rather than remain a prisoner of Starfleet, and Michael is reinstated as a Commander on the Discovery, having been the architect of the end of the war, and she and Sarek reconcile.

In the last few minutes of the episode, the Discovery is on its way to pick up its new captain from a nearby starbase, when it receives a distress call from Captain Pike of the  USS Enterprise, the ship on which Spock is the First Officer.

 

Themes:

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One of the things I know I’m good at, is seeing the bigger picture, yet being a visual artist, is what taught me to pay attention to the tiny details that make up that picture. The ability to see the “macro” from a micro level is a mindset that not many people cultivate, but if the viewer is to understand this season, they will have to. Michael’s story and her future is all in the details.

There are a lot of plot details during the course of the season, so this show is much more complex than some previous series of Trek. Because it’s so complex, a lot of fans haven’t been able to grasp exactly what this season was about, and have had difficulty wondering what the writers are trying to do. A lot of fans have complained that the show isn’t very Trekky, but that’s the point.We haven’t got there yet.

Every character has an arc, and so does the crew and ship. but the overall point of all these arcs, appears to be getting to know Michael Burnham, not just through the things we see her do, and the situations she responds to,  but  through her relationships on Discovery, and how other characters respond to her. Through Michael we are also witnessing the origin story of this crew. By the end of the season, we are on our way to seeing the ideals of Starfleet reflected in Michael, the crew, and the  plot.

All of the plot points, and all of the characters, revolve around, and are informed by, the existence of Michael Burnham. We are watching a show chronicling the growth and maturity of a StarFleet officer, and its crew. We visited the Mirrorverse to learn what type of crew, what type of people, they are not, and cannot be, to contrast with who they should, and can be. The writers wanted to show us negatives before showing the positives.

The flavor is different from the other Trek shows, but then they all felt different, so this means little to me. The colors are brighter, the lighting is dimmer, the humor is a little different. There’s sex, nudity and a little cussing, but over the course of the season the show begins to lighten and there’s a little more humor between the characters.

The Bridge crew is very intriguing, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them next season, with stories being told about them, and narratives involving them, as we didn’t get to see or hear much from any of them. In fact, we know nothing about any of them beyond how they look, so I’m excited to get to know them. (Interesting Note: There’s not a single White man in the regular Bridge crew of the Discovery. Actually, the only White, straight man, in the entire speaking crew, was Lorca and he turned out to be evil. The present cast consists almost entirely of PoC, and mostly women. Make of that what you will.)

http://trekcore.com/blog/2017/12/meet-the-star-trek-discovery-bridge-crew-cast/

 

Michael Burnham

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Michael is introduced to us as a rather reserved, and somewhat rude, Vulcan wannabe, in the premiere episodes, but during the course of the season we watch her become more human, discovering and dealing with the faults of her character. As the audience, we travel with her on her path to self discovery. Essentially, we are watching Star Trek: The Making of a Starfleet Officer, or The Fall and Rise of Michael Burnham.

We see her fall from grace in the first couple of episodes, as she mutinies against, and then presides over the death of, her Captain, a woman with whom she had established a mother/daughter relationship. Michael’s hubris begins a war with the Klingons, and she will have to live with the repercussions of this for the remainder of the season. This is why the very first minute of the first episode is a shot of Michael and Philippa together. Their relationship is going to be the center around which almost all of Michael’s decisions will revolve for the next 14 episodes, and the loss and betrayal of her mother figure, and commanding officer, will be the impetus behind many of Michael’s decisions later in the season, just as the death of her parents informs her decisions in the show’s premiere. I think,had that particular trauma been dealt with, by the Vulcans, Michael would not have made those decisions.

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Everything that happens, for the rest of the season, can be traced back to Michael’s betrayal and mutiny of Philippa, and that can be traced back to unresolved trauma, after the deaths of Michael’s parents, at the hands of the Klingons.. The war she inadvertently started with the Klingons, killed her captain, and made it possible for Capt. Lorca to be present in the Prime universe, which puts him in  place to make certain decisions that affect her  development, and the lives of the Discovery crew. For Michael to become the person she will be, her old life needs to be destroyed, but she cannot move forward until she deals with all of its loose ends.

Her introduction to the crew of the Discovery is a bit rocky at first, but she eventually establishes herself as a reliable and intelligent officer, and even develops a positive relationship with her roommate, Silvia Tilly, that echoes her relationship with her late Captain, with Michael in the role of mentor. The first part of the season finds her making peace with Lt. Saru, her former Science Officer from the Shen Zhou, and developing a romantic relationship with Ash Tyler, a former prisoner of war.

By the middle of the season, Michael experiences another setback as she visits the Mirror Universe, and discovers the worst possible versions of the people she knew, including Phillipa, Capt. Lorca,  and Ash Tyler. Since coming on board the Discovery, Michael has had a  decision to make, about the kind of human she would like to become, and in the MirrorVerse, she is presented with the contrast, and the temptation, to be the worst kind of human she could be, which she roundly rejects. In every episode Michael gets a chance to redeem herself and reflect the ideals of StarFleet.

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Just because Michael knows what kind of person she wants to be, doesn’t mean she is done. She  must still deal with the emotional fallout of Philippa’s death, which is also tied into the emotional trauma of her parents death, that she has never dealt with either.  Given the choice between allowing the Mirrorverse version of Philippa to die, or saving her life, Michael saves her life, and takes her to the Prime universe. Michael’s, guilt and regret, at causing Prime-Phillipa’s death, informs her decision, and even though this version of Phillipa isn’t hers, Michael hopes to atone, by saving the soul of this less worthy version of her former mentor.

Michael  cannot do anything with her life, until all the issues in her past have been properly acknowledged and dealt with. We are really seeing an origin story for Michael Burnham.

 

Captain/Emperor:  Philippa Georghiou

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Philippa adopted Michael as a surrogate daughter by the time we saw her in the season premiere, and had done a lot of work to introduce Michael to her human side by that time. Michael’s attack on her,  and that betrayal, was really hard on her ,and the situation was never resolved between them because she died.

Later in the season, we meet the Mirrorverse version of Phiippa, who also had a mother/daughter relationship with the Mirrorverse version of Michael. That version of Philippa is also the autocratic, despotic, Emperor of the Terran Empire (So when Michelle Yeoh said we would see her character again, she really wasn’t lying.). Her version of Michael had also betrayed her, and she feels some type of way about that. When she discovers that the Michael she is talking to is not the one who betrayed her, she teams up with her to defeat her rival, Gabriel Lorca.

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When her life is endangered, she makes it clear she wishes to go down with her ship , but Michael decides to save her life instead, and spirits her away to the Prime universe. The two of them have many feelings to work out between them. Mirroverse people claim not to love, considering it a weakness of character, but it is clear they have feelings for one another, and Philippa  has feelings for this version of Michael, whom she refers to as Not Her Daughter. Mirrorverse Philippa needs to reconcile with the “ghost” of her version of Michael, and Michael needs to finally lay Philippa’s ghost to rest through this version of her.

This Philippa’s presence will give Michael an opportunity to work out issues that she had with the Prime universe version. This is yet another opportunity for growth, to lay to rest the demons in her past, and move forward. To become the person she is meant to be. Because she was raised on Vulcan, Michael did not mature in the way that most humans did, and a lot of what we see is Michael experiencing these emotional life events for the first time. Through letting go of Philippe, she is dealing with the trauma of losing parental figures.

In a sense, Michael is still a teenager, albeit a teenager with a formidable intellect. She makes the kind of mistakes that only a human, who has not reached emotional maturity, would make. There’s nothing wrong with her intellect, but she is interacting with humans, and with issues that, had she been raised with humans, she would long ago have dealt with, like the deaths of her parents by the Klingons. Vulcans simply don’t handle emotions the way humans do, and Michael had been taught to act like a Vulcan by suppressing them, not working through them, which brings us to:

 

 Silvia Tilly

https://io9.gizmodo.com/my-favorite-character-on-star-trek-discovery-is-the-on-1822646454

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One of the first people Michael meets is one of the most important people on the ship for her, and that’s Lt. Silvia Tilly, Michael’s  irrepressibly bubbly roommate. It’s important that Michael meet Tilly first because Tilly will be her very first human “friend”, and that s important in the development of Michael’s personality. Tilly also turns out to be one of my all-time favorite characters in Star Trek, right next to Spock and Data,and a great embodiment of StarFleet ideals. Tilly is also one of the youngest members of the crew, and one of the greatest things is  watching her grow and mature, along side Michael.

When we first meet Tilly, she pulls one of those mean girl stunts towards Michael that immediately causes me to dislike her, but later she redeems herself by becoming  Michael’s biggest supporter and cheerleader. Michael develops a relationship with Tilly that has deep echoes of her relationship with Philippa, as a mentor and mentee, as she encourages Tilly to fulfill her dream of becoming a starship captain. Tilly’s acceptance is the first step in Michael’s long journey to find herself.

It is Tilly that gently encourages Michael to open herself up to her feelings. Later, she encourages Michael to pursue a relationship with Ash, and when that falls though, she is the one who puts forth the idea of closure, telling Michael she needs to speak to Ash and resolve the issue between them, when Michael would rather run from it. Every time Michael tries to ignore,  run away from, or suppress her emotions, it is  Tilly who encourages her to fully engage, and  experience  the human condition, and does so without judgement. In return Tilly receives Michael’s full trust before anyone else does. It is Michael’s relationship with Tilly that paves the way for her relationship with Ash.

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Tilly experiences her own character arc as she becomes more confident in her ability to solve problems, and in the Mirrorverse, she gets an opportunity to sit in the Captain’s chair, encouraged by Michael’s words of support. In fact, Tilly’s time in the Mirrorverse results in a positive outcome for her. Getting in touch with her worst self allows her to channel that energy into the self confidence that will get her that captain’s chair. After her adventures in the Mirrorverse, we can see the seeds of the captain she will eventually become.

Michael’s affect on Tilly is especially evident after Ash Tyler is re-introduced back into the crew rotation, after his Klingon persona killed Hugh Culber. In any other environment, he would be a pariah, as Michael was when she first came onto the Discovery. But Tilly, in an act of reconciliation , decides to put Ash’s behavior in the past. She takes the initiative to welcome him back, and the rest of the bridge crew follow her example. This is an example of Tilly’s growing confidence in her leadership skills. Her compassion, her positive experience of befriending Michael, another social pariah, informs her decision here.

 

Lt. Commander/First Officer Saru

When Michael is brought on board the Discovery by Capt.  Lorca, Saru does experience a bit of panic. I didn’t really like this character very much, at first, mostly because he didn’t like Michael, but as the season moved on, I began to understand that he had his own traumas that he was dealing with, and  he feels those traumas are Michael’s fault.

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Michael cost him his captain, a woman he respected, and had worked under for a long time, and he not only had to deal with that loss, but the loss of his position, ship and crew, and the knowledge of  Michael’s betrayal. He is understandably a bit wary of her, thinking her dangerous to him. I’ll wager, since Saru is the way he is, he probably had his entire career mapped out on  the Shen Zhou, and Michael derailed all that, so he definitely feels some type of way.

One of the first hurdles Michael has, is to get past Saru’s guard, reconcile with him, getting him to trust her once more. Over the first several episodes, she goes a long way towards getting him to trust her again, and one of the ways she does so is by acknowledging her mistakes, and bonding with him over the shared loss of Philippa. When Philippa died, she left remembrances to Michael, one of which was a family heirloom, a giant telescope. Michael gives the telescope to Saru instead, and this goes a long way towards mending fences between them.

In another episode, Saru gets possessed by alien spirits that cause him to turn on Michael and Ash during an away mission. This is a callback to Michael’s betrayal of Philippa because she believed she was doing so with the best of intentions , as  Saru believes that he is helping Ash and Michael, when he attacks them. This puts Saru in Michael’s footsteps for a short time He then has some understanding behind her thinking when she was on the Shen Zhou.

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I  want to give a shout out to Doug Jones, who turned in an exemplary performance this season, given that he can show so little facial expression under all that makeup. He has to convey everything about the character through voice and body language, and does a wonderful job of this, reminding me of his work as Abe Sapien in Hellboy.

I was a little reluctant to cozy up to Saru, at first, but he’s become one of my favorite characters. We even get to see him give a rousing  speech, and be a total badass, in the Mirrorverse, when he becomes acting Captain, after Lorca’s demise.

 

Lt. Paul Stamets

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It is through working with Stamets that we get regular doses of Michael’s fierce intelligence, and her compassion. If the first two episodes are meant to introduce us to Michael’s weaknesses, than the next two introduce us to Michael’s strengths, and stoicism, as she works closely with Stamets to develop a new kind of engine, a kind of Sporedrive that works with mushroom spores to allow the ship to travel along a plant “neural network” that connects all things.

Stamets was not a very likable character at first, but redeemed himself when he stepped in to take the place of the creature that he was torturing to get the SporeDrive to work. He also nearly sacrifices his life. I feel like he did it as a form of atonement for the harm he initially caused, and also because he’s thoroughly dedicated to his work.

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He and Michael don’t interact much, but he does exist, as an example to Michael, of self-sacrifice and  atonement. This is why I think Michael takes the attitude she does with Saru. Reconciling with Saru is one of the first steps on her journey to dealing with her past mistakes, and mature as a person, and I think Stamet’s self sacrifice may have been the inspiration for  at least part of that.

Michael isn’t just being affected by the world around her, she is also affecting the world, and people, in her orbit. I believe that it’s her act of compassion towards the creature they realized they were killing to run the SporeDrive, is the impetus behind Stamet’s decision to atone by taking the creature’s place, after Michael sets it free.

Being infected by the spores has the added benefit of mellowing Stamet’s personality because I wondered what it was that his lover, Dr. Hugh Culber, saw in him. He is goofier, and more funny when he’s possessed by the spores. As  we see  Stamets and Culber interact during the season we start to get some idea, not just of the deep love between them, but why they’re together.

Later, we are treated to a touching scene of the two of them, meeting after Culber’s death, inside the spore’s neural network. Many viewers were devastated about Culber’s death, but we have been assured by the writers (and the actor, Wilson Cruz) that this is not a Kill All Your Gays Trope, and that we will see Culber again in the future, and I’m inclined to trust all of them on this. After all, we got to see Philippa, again.

 

Voq/Ash Tyler

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In the Harry Mudd episode, we learn that Michael has never been in love, and she begins a romantic relationship with Ash Tyler. Their relationship has all of the torrid passion that you expect in a first love situation. Michael is rather emotionally immature for a human, with her emotional development having been suppressed while being raised on Vulcan. There are a host of situations that are brand new to her, that most humans have already been through by the time they reach her age, so Michael falling in love with Ash, is another step forward in her emotional journey.

So is betrayal by one’s lover and  the breakup song. It turns out that Ash isn’t just a traumatized victim of the Klingons. He actually is the Klingon, Voq, who has been surgically altered to look like the dead human, Ash Tyler, with Tyler’s personality as an overlay. When Voq’s personality begins to reassert itself, after meeting his counterpart in the Mirroverse, he tries to kill Michael. Naturally Michael is having some serious trust issues after the Ash Tyler personality is restored. She breaks up with him because she realizes that neither of them are well enough, or mature enough, to have a healthy relationship or be good for each other, which is probably one of the most mature romantic decisions I’ve ever seen in any show. Most plots are predicated on the characters making really bad romantic decisions.

A lot of the things Michael goes through in the season are the kinds of events that most humans have already dealt with by the time they are Michael’s age, like love, trust, and the  betrayal of those things, against her, and by her. She must deal with the enormous fallout of her betrayal of Philippa, and in turn with being betrayed by others like Lorca and Ash.

 

Captain Gabriel Lorca

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One of the primary themes of the season is trust and betrayal, with many episodes dealing with the the emotional fallout and events that occur when characters betray each other’s trust. In one episode Lorca betrays Harry Mudd, leaving him behind to be tortured by the Klingons after it is discovered that Harry is their spy. This is something that comes back to bite Lorca in the ass later, when Harry Mudd gets revenge by taking over his ship. Lorca also betrays Cornwell to the Klingons, in the episode where he refuses to look for her, after her capture by them, which he set up.

But most importantly Lorca betrays Starfleet and the Discovery, when it turns out that the real Captain Lorca is probably dead, and has been replaced by the Mirrorverse version, as the audience suspected. While in the Mirrorverse, there are a number of crosses, and double crosses, as Michael learns that the Mirrorverse version of Michael had also betrayed that world’s version of Philippa, and had teamed up with Lorca to dethrone her as the Emperor. It turns out that, in the Mirrorverse, Lorca started out as a kind of father figure and lover (Eww!) of that world’s version of Michael. The two of them planned to rule the Terran empire together.

We had wondered about the meaning of Lorca’s bond with Michael and why he was so protective of her. Not only was he in love with her, but knowing  Philippa’s greatest weakness was her love for Michael, he used her to gain access to the Imperial ship, to get close to Philippa. In the end Lorca dies when they both turn on him.

Now that Lorca is out of the way, we can see the bridge crew start to behave more like the Star Trek crews we’ve always known. The writers have stated that because of Lorca’s presence, the crew of the Discovery didn’t get to bond in the way they should have, and now that he is gone, they can show a level of teamwork that Lorca may have actively worked to suppress. It is the female members of the bridge crew who make the effort to welcome Ash, after his Voq personality has been destroyed. Contrast that with how they treated Michael when she first arrived.

More than anytihng else, its the regard and respect that starship crews show for one another that makes Trek, Trek,  and we get to see them really come together and start to act like a crew, ironically, enough, during their stint in the Mirrorverse. So the show isn’t just about the evolution of Michael its also about the parallel evolution of the various crew members, and the ship, in general.

Sarek

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Having grown up on Vulcan, Michael has only ever suppressed her emotions, instead of working through them. After her parent’s death by the Klingons, and then her own death, as a child, from Vulcan rebels (who hate humans), she has a lot to work through, including her feelings of betrayal from Sarek.

When Sarek is attacked and nearly killed by the same Vulcan rebels who killed her, when she was a child,  Michael has to save Sarek’s life, using the mindbond he established with her to bring her back to life. Through that  bond, Michael discovers Sarek’s deepest regret.  Sarek had an opportunity to gain her entry into the Vulcan Science Academy. he could only enter one of his children to the school, and he chose Spock over her.  In doing so, he derailed Michael’s life and career. This decision put Michael on the career track that would eventually land her on Philipa’s  ship, and Sarek feels that all that happened afterwards, Michael’s betrayal, the mutiny, and her conviction, are partially his fault. She and Sarek both have to come to terms with their feelings about what he did, and Michael needs to restructure her relationship to Sarek, before she can move forward.

We are essentially watching Michael take care of all the failures and remnants of her past. Watching her clean it all that up,, and begin to tie up loose ends, before embarking on whatever new phase in her life, which is something she cannot do, until all these issues have been acknowledged, and purged, and her relationships reconciled, including the one with her adoptive Father, and by the end of the season the two are on their way to doing so, with Sarek acknowledging her as the child of his heart, and Michael, with a better understanding of what type of person Sarek is.

Rather than the trusting and childlike relationship we saw at the beginning of the season, with Sarek admonishing Michael, like a child, to “Behave” before leaving her alone with Philippa,  the two are developing a  more equal and adult relationship, built on mutual respect, rather than obedience to his authority, a stage  most humans have undergone by her age.

 

Last Episode

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Last episode saw the death of Lorca and the return of the Discovery to their own universe. But they miscalculate and jump forward in time by nine months, where they discover that the Klingons are winning the war, in a piecemeal fashion. The Klingons, because of the disappearance of Voq and the death of their leader at Michael’s hand,  never unified under one clan, so all 24 of the clans have been carving up the Federation in a contest to see who can take the most human lives, and have been indiscriminately killing all humans, with no honor. Admiral Cornwell is still alive, but reaching her breaking point, as the Klingons make a play for Earth.

Sarek and Michael go to Mirrorverse Phillipa to request her aid in defeating the Klingons. Her suggestion is that they destroy the Klingon home-world of Quonos, a ploy that the last remnants of StarFleet have agreed to. In preventing the destruction of the Klingon homeworld,  Michael is finally putting to rest the trauma of her parents deaths, at the hands of the Klingons. Michael demonstrates the best ideals of StarFleet by  showing compassion to a race of people who affected her life course, through their actions. She has come full circle from wanting to kill them on sight, ,which set the entire Klingon war in motion, to helping to save their race, which ends it.

 

In Conclusion

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This entire season is one where we have been watching Michael essentially play catch-up to the other humans around her. Having been raised on Vulcan as a Vulcan, has built her intellect, but stunted her emotional growth. Because of how she was raised she has no emotional experience to call on when dealing with a highly emotional situations, and I think her past trauma, coupled with her desperation, is what informed her decision to attack Philippa, as there are other ways she could have handled the situation, that did not include giving her captain a Vulcan nerve pinch.

Whether  or not Michael was right, in the decision to send a Vulcan Hello to the Klingons, is beside the point.  She thought she was right, above all and everything else. Her panicked decision to have her way, and impose her will on the situation by attacking her captain, set an entire series of actions in motion, that affected two universes,  cost countless lives in both of them, and that  Michael has no hope of fixing any, or reorganizing her life, until she clears away the detritus of her old one, and that’s what this first season was all about.

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Black Panther: Select Readings

*So posts and articles have been slowly trickling in for Black Panther. I’ll try to collect as many as possible and put them all in one place. Here are some readings I found this week. 

On Representation

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2018/02/09/its-going-to-change-hollywood-why-black-panther-will-mean-so-much-to-so-many/?utm_term=.54d6845f3597

https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/black-superheroes-matter-why-black-panther-is-revolutionary-w509105

https://thegrapevine.theroot.com/black-panther-delivers-the-biggest-blackest-superhero-1822600683

https://editorial.rottentomatoes.com/article/luke-cage-black-panther-and-why-heroes-of-color-matter/https://io9.gizmodo.com/th

https://www.theroot.com/when-wakanda-was-real-1822745590

The Revolutionary Power of Black Panther

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/02/black-panther-who-plays-shuri-letitia-wright-profile

@@

On Racism in Criticism/Fandom

 

*This first title I couldn’t link to because the article is behind a paywall, but if you sign up for Medium.com you may be able to read it as part of your free preview. Yeah, there’s a class of White people (and yes, I mean White women too) who have collectively lost their everlovin’ minds about this movie, but not in any good way. Not only are there  White dudes planning to sabotage the movie’s reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but also White gals writing concern trolling meta about Shuri being in an abusive relationship with her family, to produce tech for Wakanda. 

*Sigh* 

And the movie hasn’t even been released yet.

Now I would have been the first person to tell them their little plan was doomed to failure, and if they tried it they were gonna get their asses handed to them.These same people successfully pulled off this plan with the Ghostbusters remake (which people didn’t find out about until after the fact), but by the time Wonder Woman was released, everyone had learned a lesson from that, and it wasn’t successfully carried out. We will be getting a sequel to Wonder Woman, no matter how much they gnash their teeth. 

Their plan failed, (will fail) here because first, they’re  coming for Black people and we have a long history of disregarding anything White men say about the things we love, and second, they’re fucking with Disney, and Disney does not like people trying to fuck with their bottom line. This company has put a helluva lot of money into promoting this movie, and they’re not about to let a bunch of disgruntled, racist, fanboys mess their shit up. 

So yeah, their Facebook page got pulled and even Rotten Tomatoes issued a response. What’s even sadder is that they tried to cover up their racism by claiming they were doing it on behalf of the DCEU.

 

“Black Panther, White Avengers

Movie hasn’t debuted and fan boys have already lost their damn minds”

https://marvelstudiosnews.com/2018/02/01/rotten-tomatoes-responds-dc-fans-anyone-else-aiming-sabotage-black-panther/

 

Image result for black panther'

https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2018/feb/05/black-panther-fought-off-a-toxic-ghostbusters-online-campaign-rotten-tomatoes

 

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First Negative Review

*And this is why I’ve been advocating for more diverse reviewers, and giving the side eye to any  negative reviews from White critics. I don’t know that I can trust them. There’s nothing wrong with a negative review of a movie with a Black cast, and if the reviewer was a person of color, I would give the review some consideration. Some movies aren’t for everyone, and this reviewer should have realized this. Its okay to not get everything in a movie, but this reviewer really needed to stay in his lane.

https://mashable.com/2018/02/08/black-panther-negative-review-rotten-tomatoes/#zNrC2bng3kqd

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Issues

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-panther-is-ready-to-take-dark-skinned-actresses-and-colorism-seriously_us_5a7a090ce4b0d0ef3c0a2049

https://www.theroot.com/black-panther-an-allegory-of-the-world-wanting-blackne-1822610905

https://io9.gizmodo.com/how-black-panther-blends-politics-culture-and-technol-1822308519

https://goodblacknews.org/2018/02/05/chadwick-boseman-and-ryan-coogler-on-how-black-panther-makes-history-variety/

https://www.theroot.com/on-black-panther-black-leopard-and-the-politics-of-bei-1822489281

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Black Panther: Can We Just Enjoy It?

 —-The look on a young Black boy’s face when he sees a Black Panther toy commercial or a grown Black man’s face when he sees a Black Panther Lexus commercial is something special that shouldn’t be over-analyzed. There’s no think piece on capitalism that will change the fact that Black girls of all ages will see themselves in a spectrum of intelligent, strong, dark-skinned natural hair-wearing Black women in a major Hollywood blockbuster for the first time. African speculative fiction has finally reached mainstream culture, and it’s a great feeling.

http://blacknerdproblems.com/black-panther-just-enjoy/

Image result for black panther'

 

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Appropriation:

*And then, for some reason, someone introduced somebody to the idea that Black Americans were appropriating African cultures. 

*Le Sigh*

 I would break down what an absolutely fucked up idea that is except it would take too long, and I got shit to do, but here’s someone else who can do it.

http://afropunk.com/2017/10/black-people-cannot-guilty-cultural-appropriation-period/

Given that the blipsters who sport African dress very well could be Yoruba or Fulani, it’s not quite fair to accuse them of appropriating the fashions of such groups. African Americans, after all, have the dubious distinction of not knowing what their traditional dress is. For them, wearing African attire has always been more complicated than “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission,” as Susan Scafidi, author of Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law, defines cultural appropriation.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/is-it-cultural-appropriation-when-africans-wear-jordans_us_56099b3be4b0768126fea24d

View story at Medium.com

http://afropunk.com/2018/02/controversy-around-black-panthers-supposed-appropriation-shows-necessity-pan-africanism/

 

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Miscellaneous:

https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/9/16994648/black-panther-kendrick-lamar-soundtrack-stream-the-weeknd-sza

https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-complicated-exhilarating-process-of-creating-wakan-1822765864

https://www.thecut.com/2018/02/black-panther-natural-hair.html

http://afropunk.com/2018/02/get-shatters-hollywoods-traditional-permissions-blackness-hopefully-oscar-recognition-turning-point/

The Sunken Place to Wakanda with Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes

 

 

 

I Found These on Netflix

Inspired by a new season of BBCs Blue Planet, and the introduction of a bad head cold, I decided to watch some shows that were a little out of the ordinary for me on Netflix. Normally, I watch Scifi and Fantasy movies, or reruns of old favorite shows, along with some of Marvels output. I actually enjoyed sort of looking at these while knitting or reading. They’re not plot intensive and are definitely the kind of stuff you watch if you have the flu and can’t concentrate, want something to feel good about for a couple of hours, or something not too loud, to help you fall asleep at night.

Animal Airport

Image result for animal airportImage result for animal airport

This is a show about Heathrow Airport’s animal department, where they ship all kinds of animals to different parts of the world, and people ship their animals to England. Hundreds of animals, a day, pass through the airport and the staff is responsible for checking that they’re all healthy and have the proper paperwork. Its a fascinating show, although you sort of have to wait for the facts to come in, so it’s not a documentary.

Since the UK is an island, they have to care very deeply if any animals that come into the country are carrying any diseases that can be passed on to humans or other animals, like rabies, so close attention is paid to people bringing various pets into the country, especially dogs and cats.

But the department, which is also nicknamed The Ark, also gets lots of other really weird shipments for and from zoos, and pet stores, like giant tortoises, llamas, snakes, and once, a shipment of butterfly cocoons that needed fast shipment, before they hatched. The show chronicles the day to day decision making processes of the staff, as they look for any animal smuggling evidence.

The show really isn’t about the staff. The various animals are the highlight in this show. One of my favorite episodes involved a giant snapping tortoise that refused to eat, and in another episode the staff has to let its resident company of ring-tailed lemurs go to a zoo. They’d been stuck at The Ark for two years because of a paperwork snafu. In one of the earliest episodes, a kindly old man tries to smuggle two tiny turtles, in his coat pockets. His reaction, when he got caught, was rather explosive.

Sometimes people try to sneak their dogs and cats in, or just don’t know they’re supposed to declare them, and there can be some tears and yelling when they find out their pet might be confiscated, but usually the situations are peacefully resolved.

This is a great show to watch if you love animals but are too sick to muster up enough concentration to watch a nature documentary.

The Great British Baking Show

British-Baking-Show-Hosts-Judges-FeatImage result for british baking show

I love cooking shows, especially baking shows, but I hate the competitive and quite frankly, dumb atmosphere, of the American versions of these shows. Americans talk too much in those shows, and when they do say stuff, its generally self serving bullshit, or nasty shit against their opponents, and I’m never in a mood to hear that.

But I like the British shows.The competitors are humble, hard working and supportive of each other, and its a real joy to watch them work on the various recipes. You get really caught up in their emotions through the season as you get to know each one of them. They are kind, and beautifully supportive of each other, celebrating each other’s wins, and commiserating with each other’s losses, and admiring each other’s skills. The emotional dynamic on these shows is completely different. The hosts aren’t screaming insults and tend to be supportive themselves. But the biggest difference between the American and British shows, is that the Americans are competing against each other, whereas the British contestants are competing against their individual selves, and their personal insecurities.

This show has two hosts and two judges. The hosts are Mel Giedrouyc, and Sue Perkins, who work great together, and are actually pretty funny, but never at the expense of the contestants. The two judges are Mary Berry, and Paul Hollywood. Mr. Hollywood has dreamy blue eyes, and he and Mary are both consummate professionals, who find at least one nice thing to say about every bake they judge, no matter how awful the contestant thinks it is.

Each episode consist of three tests, and is entirely about baking deserts and pastries, with the occasional savory dish. The first is usually something of the contestants own design, and something they’ve been practicing for years. The second test is Technical and it’s usually something the contestants have never heard of before, and the last is a kind of proficiency test, that includes all the skills they’ve learned over the course of the show, that day ,or that week. They’re allowed to be as imaginative as they want and its a lot of fun to see them all reproduce the same recipe, but with significantly different results.

This is a great show to watch, if, like me, you love pastries.

Tales By Light

Image result for tales by Light

Image result for tales by Light

Image result for tales by Light

This is a documentary series of interviews with nature photographers that discusses how they got particular shots, and what urges led them to becoming photographers. If you love nature shows, and possess enough brain power to watch a documentary, than this is the show for you. There’s a lot of talking, but you can safely ignore it, and just watch the beautiful animals, scenery and cultures.

What is always amazing to me is the amount of cooperation the photographers get from the people they film. I always wonder if the tribal people they’re filming, understand that people from around the world (other tribes, really) will be looking at their photos.

There are six episodes about places like The Himalayas, various tribal groups (my personal favorite), ocean photography, and various mountains and volcanoes.

Somebody Feed Phil

Image result for somebody feed phil

Image result for somebody feed phil

More than people cooking food, I like to watch people eat food. Especially if its food I’m never likely to eat.

I have never heard of Phil, but I feel comfortable saying I think I’m probably in love with him. He is such a sweet character. He’s always so positive and happy. If you need to feel good for a couple of hours than you can watch a couple of episodes of Phil visiting parts of Asia, Israel, and other places, eating the food, and striking up conversations with random people. This is not a deep show, and can be easily watched when you have little brain power to spare for a plot. Its mostly just Phil talking about the  food, and eating the food, and interacting with some friends.

In the first episode, Phil Rosenthal, the creator of the show Everybody Loves Raymond, visits Bangkok, and tries some durian fruit. Apparently he’s okay with that, and says it tastes pretty good. He also visits Tel Aviv, and since he’s Jewish, he has a grand old time exploring the food and culture, and having conversations with random strangers about what it’s like to be Jewish in Israel. Phil isn’t a foodie, so there’s none of the snootiness, or pretentiousness, that you get with other travel food hosts like Bourdain. I like Bourdain, but he tries too hard to seem cool and detached. Zimmern can come across a little too folksy sometimes. Phil on the other hand has no chill at all. He has all the enthusiasm of a child, which is kind of refreshing.

My favorite part of all the episodes though, are the endings, when Phil Skypes with his elderly parents about his adventures. I love their relationship with their son, who they don’t always understand, and they also think they’re pretty funny, so of course they are. And he just talks to them about the food he ate during his visit, and people he saw, and they sometimes give commentary. It’s a really lovely touch to add these scenes of bonding. Most of the time you get the impression that people on TV shows don’t have families at all, and you almost never see them interact.

Phil also visits Lisbon Spain, and parts of Mexico in subsequent episodes. Phil’s regular facial expression is one of pleased surprise, and for some reason I find that deeply funny.

From the Halls of Tumblr

I stumbled across this website that rates movies according to diversity and inclusion. I’m not entirely sure I agree with some of the grades. I think this website is a lot stricter in its qualifications than I am, but I found it interesting:
 https://www.mediaversityreviews.com/tv-reviews

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I laughed at this waaay harder than I should have. I’m still laughing at it!

 

 vulcandroid

i will never be over the fact that during first contact a human offered their hand to a vulcan and the vulcan was just like “wow humans are fucking wild” and took it

 

roachpatrol

Humanity’s first contact with Vulcans was some guy going “I’m down to fuck.”

Vulcans’ first contact with Humans was an emphatic “Sure.”

 

star-lord

#iiiiiiiiiiiiii mean vulcans had been watching humans for a long time#they knew the significance of a handshake but still#they had to find some fast and loose ambassador#willing to fuckin make out with a human for the sake of not offending them on first contact#lmao#star trek

give me the story of this fast and loose vulcan

 

moonsofavalon

“sir…these…these humans…they greet each other by…” *glances around before furtively whispering* “byclasping hands…”

*prolonged silence* “oh my…”

“sir…sir how will we make first contact with them? surely we…we cannot refuse this handclasping ritual, they will take it as an insult, but what vulcan would agree to such a distasteful and uncomfortable ritual??”

*several pensive moments later* “contact the vulcan high command and tell them to send us kuvak. i once saw that crazy son of a bitch arm wrestle a klingon, he’ll put his hands on anything”

 

evilminji

Elsewhere, w/ kuvak: “….my day has come.”

 

lierdumoa

The vulcan who made first contact with humans is named Solkar guys. Y’all just be makin’ up names for characters that already have names.

Bonus: here’s a screencap of Solkar doing the “my body is ready” pose right before he shakes Zefram Cochrane’s hand:

adreadfulidea

I swear Vulcans only come in two types and they are “distant xenophobes” or “horny on main for humanity”. Also apparently this guy is Spock’s great-grandfather and frankly that explains everything.

 

Source: lycanthropiste st

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For some reason, this was totally a thing about a week ago on Twitter. I have no idea how this got started or why. It’s said that J. K. Rowling thoroughly enjoyed it though.

I think it was the “Sortin’ Du-rag” tweet that  had me cough-spittin’ at work!

Black Hogwarts

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http://www.seventeen.com/celebrity/a15070314/black-hogwarts-twitter/

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lj-writes  what that fandom lifestyle is SUPPOSED to be about, and how fans who consider themselves allies, Do The Work:

Carrying the fandom load

It does get tiring at times staying conscious of bigoted tropes in fandom, deciding not to support racist art, wondering if a quote is appropriative of Jewish experiences, discarding a homophobic fanwork idea, and more.

So as a Fandom Old I can see why some fans long for the “good old days.” Back then anything went! Total creative freedom! We were wild and unfettered! None of these long-winded discussions, we just went and did it and did not give a single fuck!

Except freedom wasn’t for everyone, was it? You only had that total freedom if you were unaffected by fandom’s racism, homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism, ableism, and a host of other bigotries that are a reflection of the world we live in.

Fandom was never the carefree, escapist enterprise some of us like to think it was. It’s just that minority fans were bearing the load of others’ freedom in silence. Too often, fans who were marginalized in real life could not escape to fandom because fandom would uncritically celebrate their oppression and trauma. And if they dared to speak about it they were bullied and shouted down into silence, into leaving.

I speak in the past tense but this is still ongoing, obviously. Fans of marginalized identities are a little more vocal now, but are facing a sustained and vicious backlash that accuses them of being “bullies” and starting “discourse” and “drama” and of “virtue signalling.”

It’s not about discourse or virtue, though. It’s about fans being told that they are not welcome unless they bite their tongues, grin, and go along with a thousand stings and slaps in the very spaces they go to have fun. It’s about fans having to watch characters who look like them be constantly erased and demonized. It’s about fans having to spend endless amounts of time and energy educating other fans about their oppression when all they’d like to do is unwind after a long day made longer by those very issues.

It’s not about virtue. It’s about people.

The thing is, fans who criticize minority fans and their allies for “discourse” aren’t angry about the fact that fandom puts these psychological burdens on minority fans. They’re mad about having to share a tiny little part of the burden minority fans, most visibly Black women, have been carrying for too long. In the minds of these “discourse”-critical fans the burden of considering the impact of fandom and fanworks is not theirs to bear. It is the lot of fans who are not them, “others,” to pay the cost for the majority’s creative freedom. The very suggestion that the load exists, and worse, that all of fandom should share in it so marginalized fans don’t carry it so disproportionately, is enough to make a lot of fans uncomfortable. I know, because I feel that discomfort at times, too.

The thing is, the load of thinking about marginalization in fandom spaces was always mine to bear. It’s every fan’s responsibility to be conscious of how they create and consume fanwork so that they don’t hurt other fans, so fandom can be inclusive and fun for everyone.

No, it’s not pleasant. It’s not fun to always watch yourself and second guess your choices, to fall short anyway and be called out and confront the fact that you have so many unconscious biases and have hurt others. I get it. I do. I want to think of myself as a good person. I don’t like admitting to wrongdoing. I hate challenging myself. I don’t want to think about this hard stuff. I just want to have fun!

But think about how much LESS fun it is when it’s your own humanity on the line. Many marginalized fans don’t have the luxury of just letting go and having fun, not when they always have to brace themselves for the next psychological assault.

These fans have been carrying this fandom burden and are punished for saying it’s too heavy. If you’re feeling a little less feather light in fannish activities than you used to, that’s a good sign! It means you’re starting to carry, in a very small measure, the fandom load of consciousness. It’s something you should be carrying as part of a community, and chances are it’s still not nearly as heavy a load as many marginalized fans are still made to bear.

A community joins together, watches out for its members, shares in the good and the bad. If some members are asked to bear the costs of others’ fun and either stay silent about it or leave, then the promise of community rings pretty hollow, doesn’t it? Sometimes discomfort is a good thing, and if my small discomfort means I am sharing in a tiny measure of my rightful load in fandom spaces, then it is a very good thing indeed.

 

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I’m not a huge advocate for violence, but some of the racist wankery that various fandoms get up to,  just makes me want to give some people a very sharp pinch, with tweezers,  Sometimes several. I mean seriously! I didn’t even know this was a thing. You have got waaay too much time on your hands, and a massive hate-boner, if you are cutting PoC out of their own photos, to prop up your non-canon,  white male ship.

 stitchmediamix

So I’m writing something about how characters and actors of color are literally cut out of images in order to center white characters/actors (usually for shipping purposes) and I’d like to be able to actually link to examples of instances where that’s happened.

I’ve got an image of John and Daisy where John has been replaced by Driver (courtesy of @xprincessrey ’s recent post in the fandom racism tag) and SEVERAL images where Iris West has been erased and replaced by Caitlin that I referenced in my presentation on the misogynoir directed towards her.

I need more examples though and I honestly don’t know how to find what I’m looking for. And… I’m really bad at finding images on the internet.

So if you have collected any receipts on this particular fandom phenomenon where fans cut out characters/actors of color from images in order to focus on a white character or ship, please let me know. I’ll link to your post on the subject if you’ve made one and give you credit for finding the images that I use if you want it.

I need examples of:

  • Anthony Mackie being cut out of press images for either Winter Soldier or Civil War
  • Scott/Tyler Posey being cut out of Teen Wolf press images or scenes in the show
  • Photo manips where Finn/John Boyega has been replaced by Kylo/Adam
  • Any other fandom that cut characters of color out in this way!

I’m writing a thing and I’m working on the header image already but I’d like more examples because man… People need to know that this is a thing that happens and pictures help drive the whole thing in.

(Also, unfortunately I have no idea how y’all  can submit straight up images to me because I don’t use tumblr submit for several reasons, BUT you can always DM me images on twitter or use Tumblr IM if you don’t have links  to images, but want to send them to me anyway.)

If you can share this with your followers, that’d be awesome.

 

elandrialore

R3ylo manips

Original photoshoot with John and Daisy

St3r3k manip

Original promo image

St3r3k manip

Original image of Tyler Posey, Crystal Reed, and Tyler Hoechlin

St3r3k manip

Original image of Tyler Posey and Dylan O’Brien

St3r3k manip

Original image with Tyler Posey and Dylan O’Brien

kyberfox

 

@stitchmediamix

Here’s a video of Finn getting cut out not just of his own confession scene – a character defining moment for him – and Kylo being inserted, he’s also replaced in the hug he and Rey shares. xx

The OP of that then made a gif set of some of the scene they’d cut where they replace Finn with Kylo because they were so proud of their work. x

And here Kylo is edited in instead of Finn in the scene where Rey gives Finn a “wow he looks good” look at Jakku. x

uprisingofcolor

 

@stitchmediamix

Here’s an entire gif set of Jake Pentecost getting cut out of his own trailer to center his white co star.

Oh, and here’s OP’s Response to @kyberfox calling them out (X), they take it about as well as you’d expect. This happened a day or so(?) after the trailer dropped, just for a frame of reference.

 

diversehighfantasy

The Doctor Who series 3 “Fix It”:

Here, they didn’t erase Martha Jones entirely, they made her a third wheel in a series the fandom felt Rose was rightfully entitled to. IMO this is as much of an in-your-face “fuck you” to Martha as pretending she didn’t exist.

Britchell. This is a more obscure ship, but it relentlessly erased, sidelined and minimized one of my favorite characters, Annie Sawyer of Being Human (UK) for being romantically involved with Mitchell, played by Aidan Turner, who also played Kili in The Hobbit. Britchell was a crossover between Mitchell and another character played by the actor who played Kili’s brother Fili in The Hobbit. Anyway. Britchell is the biggest ship in the Being Human fandom to this day.

Annie x Mitchell: http://reyesbidal.tumblr.com/post/53885860951

Britchell (in a nutchell):

 

nerdsagainstfandomracism

 

In Shadowhunters Jalec and Clalec shippers always use Malec scenes for their manips in order to erase Magnus. Here’s an example of a Clalec manip (x). I stay away from their tags and blacklist Jalecs and Clalecs on sight, but pretty sure Google has plenty of more examples. Luke is constantly excluded from the group fanarts, fan videos, etc.

Also, Rickylers in TWD always try to erase Michonne from her own narrative.

 

Source: stitchmediamix fandom racismracism in fandom Erasure ShippingLong Post white prioritization ReblogMod P.

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Here’s a review of Black Lightning, written from another perspective.

Image result for black lightning

This week, the new CW show Black Lightning will introduce another Black superhero — rather, Black superheroes — who will thankfully diversify the current ranks of primarily white TV and movie heroes, but it also raises the question: How will the show address its blackness?

With Black Lightning and Black Panther on the way, we’re finally seeing Black heroes represented on both the small screen and the big screen, and with the amount of publicity they deserve. But for Black people around America — and perhaps around the world — these heroes represent more than just the newest installment of a money-making machine built on franchises. These heroes bring familiar faces — faces that resemble their own — to a universe full of magic, superpowers, superhuman feats and abilities.

Blackness in the Media

But how, exactly, do these heroes represent “blackness”? And what, exactly, is “blackness”? This question is never asked of TV shows, movies, or books that feature white heroes. In writing programs or conferences, you’ll encounter panels and workshops in which people discuss how one may write characters of color with sensitivity. In other words, “How can I make it clear that this character is Black without being offensive?” But it’s more than just an issue of figuring out how to avoid your run-of-the-mill racist language. It’s determining if a character of color needs to be defined by their race.

Because whiteness is our country’s default racial lens, if race isn’t mentioned in a story’s narrative, most people will assume a character is white (take, for example, the “Black Hermione” internet debate). White characters are never characterized by their whiteness unless it serves the plot. So many times, however, Black characters or characters of color are defined by their race. “Black” isn’t a character type, nor is it a personality. And yet, because blackness falls so outside of the norm in common thought, it becomes the defining characteristic of a protagonist.

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I could not resist putting definitions next to some of these. (Mine are in bold type.)

Image result for smiling black people

anonymous asked:

so you’re jamaican and not regular black?

What the hell is regular black?

 

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I did not know that Satan had his own Twitter feed:

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Black Lightning The Review

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.

Image result for wonder woman twirl gif

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.)

Image result for black lightning gif

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.

Image result for calm down lady gif

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.

Image result for jennifer pierce TV gif

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.

Image result for anissa pierce TV gif

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.

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Related image

 

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.

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http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-comic-con-2017-black-lightening-won-t-avoid-social-1500782478-htmlstory.html

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.

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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.

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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.

It Came From The Depths Of Tumblr

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:

Knitting Gothic

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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.

  1. – K1 P1 K1 P1 K1 M1 P1 K1 P1 K1 P1 Sacrifice your first born K1 P1 K1 P1. Make sure to follow the pattern precisely.

  2. – You walk into the yarn store. Just one skein. You only need one skein to finish the sweater. You have the dye lot written down, marked on the original wrapper from the old skeins. You can’t find the dye lot. It never existed. It was never real. The arcane sigils mean nothing and pain your eyes to look upon.

  3. – The pattern takes a size 7 needle. Going through the roll, you have all but a 7. 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10,10.5,11,12,13. There is no 7. You change patterns. The pattern takes a size 5 needle. Going through the roll, you have all but a 5. 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9,10,10.5,11,12,13. There is no 5.

  4. – Finally, after years, you have found your way to Webs. No more will you buy your yarn from the big box craft store, you swear. As you reach for the 100% alpaca, it melts away. The sock yarn. The cashmere. The bamboo silk. They all fade away to nothing, leaving behind only Red Heart.

  5. – As the stitch drops, you can hear the screaming rush of the universe. The hole in your project grows larger and larger, a gaping maw that calls to you from the abyss. There is no escaping what you have wrought.

  6. – As you approach the counter to pay for your single skein, you look down and realize that you are holding two. Three. Yarn just appears in your hands. Money streams out of your wallet. There will only be yarn. You will be yarn.

  7. – You click to open your email. Ravelry opens. You click on Google. Ravelry opens. You click on Facebook. Ravelry opens. Finally, you click on Ravelry. Webs opens. Your cart is full.

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.

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I am much  offended, too.

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—– The real attraction are the layers, fam. The silky agility with which the show navigates generational black trauma and how it is mined/capitalized upon, is only matched by the stellar way they climax the episode. Hallelujah. Black Museum comes through like the Pell Grant of starter reparations. Black Museum talmbout they can’t give us the 40 acres but they gone slide us this refund check for That Work. Can we talk about the protagonist, Nish? How she’s instantly getting her jersey retired next to Daisy Fitzroy and Nairobi in the Ororo Munroe Fictional Black Women Hall Of Fame? Quite literally not the hero we deserve, but definitely the one we need

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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.

 

@poshtearex

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.

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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…

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I should not have found this as funny as I did:

 

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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:

Writing without racism: its more than “what”, its also “how”.

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.

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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:

Adequate Representation & Fandom Racism

 

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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.

 

http://www.nyrsf.com/racism-and-science-fiction-.html

 

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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.

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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.

Star Trek Discovery :The Mirror Universe

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https://screenrant.com/star-trek-discovery-mirror-universe-explained/

— 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.

 

Spoilersspoilersspoilersspoilersspoilersspoiler

 

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Captain Michael Burnham

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.

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The original dynamic duo!

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.

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Uhura being a total badass! with abs!

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?

https://www.inverse.com/article/40109-star-trek-discovery-costumes-mirror-universe-uniforms

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…

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“I’d cut out your tongue and use it to lick my boots.”

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.

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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.

http://comicbook.com/tv-shows/2017/10/29/star-trek-discovery-lorca-mirror-universe/

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.

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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.)

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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:

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Black Mirror and Critical Diversity

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I want to talk, yet again, about the need for  diversity in film and television criticism. We need this  badly, especially with the increase in PoC in genre films and TV shows. We don’t just need diversity but we need people who can put the images we’re seeing into some historical context. We need critics who can detail WHY some of the media we’ve consumed is racist, homophobic or anti-Semitic, for example.

This was brought back to my attention after I scoured the internet for reviews of Black Mirror, a Netflix Scifi anthology show, which featured an episode about racial retribution, titled Black Museum, and starring Letitia Wright, from Black Panther. The vast majority of those critiques panned that particular episode. Many of those critiques were written by White men and women.

It is certainly within the realm of possibility that the episode sucked, but then I came across an article on The Root, written by a Black critic, that says everything I wanted to say about that episode, and which deeply affected me. Black Mirror critiques our addiction to, and fetishization of, modern technology, and as a result, a lot of it deals with the virtual monitoring of mental and emotional spaces. Of the six episodes in this 4th season of Black Mirror, Black Museum is the most difficult to watch. And it has also  been the most panned, and lowest ranked episode,  by White critics at The Verge, Vulture, and Collider specifically, and one has to wonder why that is. I want to give a comparison between two critiques:

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 Ashley Nkadi gives a devastating critique of America’s consumption of Black pain for entertainment, within the narrative of Black Museum. (This review contains spoilers.)

https://www.theroot.com/black-mirror-black-museum-reckons-with-america-s-histo-1821814356

Notice how she links the narrative to a Socio-Historical context in which Black people’s pain has always been commodified, monetized, and available for White consumption, outlining why some White people are in no hurry to dismantle White supremacy, the source of so much of that pain. Her points are direct and her review is uncompromising.

One of my mantras  has always been “everything is connected to everything”, and Nkadi touches on  those connections in her article, how various social movements collapse through commodification, for example, and how White fans consume media that includes marginalized people, and their reactions to it. Black critics of fandom have been saying, over and over, that White people’s consumption of media does not occur in a vacuum, no matter how much some of them want to separate, and disconnect, these issues from each other, insist they are unrelated, or that they have no bearing on actual lived experiences. Part of my job on this blog is to delineate just how connected everything is, and draw parallels between popular media, and the real world.

Here’s another article written by a White critic at The Nerdist:

https://nerdist.com/black-mirror-black-museum-recap/

And by Sophie Gilbert (a White woman) at The Atlantic:

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/12/black-mirror-black-museum-is-a-throwback-to-episodes-past/549389/

Notice how Nkadi is very blunt about the issue of race in that particular episode, and how the writer from The Nerdist, glides right up to the subject of race,  and then slips past it without much mention. He has nothing to say about that. He has no interest in it.

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Another comparison review from The Black Youth Project:

https://blackyouthproject.com/black-mirrors-black-museum-slave-revolt-fantasy-hollywood-never-intended-make/

 —- I do not trust my enjoyment of this, but I trust that what white people see when they watch a story isn’t supposed to be what I see. And maybe for them this was simply a cautionary tale for what might happen when they do business with “supremacists.” Maybe that’s why they placed themselves in the “main character” Haynes’ shoes. But if you are Nish, not Haynes, you would know it is too late for cautions now. And if all of us Black folks are Nish, maybe burning down one man, one prison, one museum each is enough.

Now to be fair, The Root is a website for Black writers, about Black media, so it would seem especially precious for them to avoid the subject of race. The Nerdist is mostly White male writers writing about genre media. Their priority is to appeal to everyone, so approaching the topic of race in media is not going to be important to them, because they may not want to make their White readers uncomfortable, and that’s if they can see the racial implications in the media they critique, at all. Or, the retribution against the White male character, in the story,  made the writers uncomfortable, in a way they did not wish to examine too closely.

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And it seems I’m not the only person to notice or feel this way:

https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/59w53k/im-a-black-critic-who-dismissed-the-black-museum-episode

—– ‘But listen, I’m not trying to say that “Black Museum” was peak Black Mirror. I’m not even saying that all its concepts are put together well. What I’m saying is that we need more people like myself and more women of colour in general that can see these messages and interpret them for the masses—free of filter. Because diversity on the big screen without diversity among critics is like planting fruits without tending to the damn weeds. The message is liable to get lost.’

After I started writing this post, I came across this on The Mary Sue!

https://www.themarysue.com/black-museum-black-reviewers/

— ‘ Let’s not forget, as well, Clayton is accused of killing a white woman. None of this is accidental and yet, none of this is mentioned in any of the reviews I’ve seen. Maybe a word or two about the racism, but nothing digging deeper to show why this episode reflects a narrative about the black catharsis that we might need in 2018.’

This review, from Ira Madison III at The Daily Beast,  I posted last week:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/black-mirrors-season-4-finale-black-museum-is-a-horrifying-critique-of-american-racism?ref=wrap

—– ‘The problem with most science fiction that uses race as an allegory is how it reduces racism to hatred based on emotion and circumstance. Human beings hate aliens, orcs, vampires or whatever else because they’re different than them. It ignores the sinister ways that racism has entrenched our legal and political system. “Black Museum” tackles that and much more, using the American curiosity framework—a roadside museum—to tell its story.’

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I’m not arguing that these White writers are bigots. That’s not my point. What I’m arguing is that a White writer’s need, to make their audience comfortable, will hamstring their review, and that White writers have a huge blind spot when it comes to critiquing race in the media we consume, and especially media that’s of importance to PoC.

Although it could be said that some white writers probably just wish to stay in their lane, and not comment on racial topics, the problem with that approach, is that their silence allows their audience to be lazy, to simply go on not thinking about the deeper implications behind their entertainment. In any comment section there are always calls for the writer to ignore racial issues, “Why does it have to be about race?” And”Why can’t you just find it entertaining?” There are parts of fandom that simply don’t want to think very deeply about anything they consume, claiming entertainment as a safe space for themselves, but not affording the same to marginalized people.

And I don’t know what to think of those writers who claim to want to challenge their readers, and don’t, or write the same bigoted drivel that marginalized people are regularly subjected to, in an attempt to seem “edgy”, (but I know I feel about it, though.)

I’m not avoiding critiques from White writers because I dislike White people, or think they’re being racist. (FTR: Black Mirror is a British show created by a White writer named Charlie Brooker,) I mostly avoid these critiques because many of the writers don’t, won’t, or can’t see the details, and nuances, behind media created with PoC as the audience. Most of them are  unable to put the images they’ve seen into any Socio-Historical context, as Nkadi did, to devastating effect, in the above review.

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White writers will not see the broader ramifications in movies like Black Panther, and Get Out, or the meaning behind Luke Cage’s wearing of a bullet riddled hoodie, and Black Mariah’s respectability politics. Many of them are not educated enough on the subjects to be able to speak on them. It took Black reviewers to see and state these things. It took Asian American reviewers to outline the racist implications of whitewashing Ghost in the Shell, and to explain why Danny Rand needed to be Asian. Left to White reviewers these kinds of things are not mentioned.

Because all the media we consume is still primarily written by straight, white, cis-gender men who are only really capable, through a combination of ignorance, malice, and laziness, of writing from their own perspective, we learn what it is they care about, what subjects they think are important, and who they believe matter.

Not that White writers aren’t capable of thinking and writing beyond such boundaries (I’ve discovered a few who can, but most of them can’t write cis- gender, straight, White women very well , and these are, presumably, the people they most often come in contact with). How much less accurate are they going they be when writing about lifestyles even more divorced from their own, like a transgender woman of color,  or an Asian immigrant. Why is Hollywood still so reliant on White men to tell stories they can’t possibly know anything about, except through copious research, and most of them are too lazy to do that, relying instead on the same  old established shorthand of such groups written long ago by other white men, who not only didn’t do any research either, but didn’t care, because those people didn’t matter.

Most white critics are not familiar enough with the various topics of race, within any sociocultural and/or historical context, and then there are those who don’t think it matters at all. But it matters to PoC and other marginalized groups, not just that they are represented in popular culture, but how they are represented, what kind of story is being told.

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Earlier in this country’s history, marginalized groups focused on entering the field of politics, and that was helpful in addressing some of our grievances, and furthering cultural progress. But our realization now is that we need to change the culture. And we can see that the way that a culture can be changed, is through  popular media. Until we control ,write, direct, and disseminate our own stories, in film, television, and books, we cannot change a culture that had long ago decided, with the aid of that same media, that we were less than.

Only we can  (will) declare our own worth. And there is always going to be a certain amount of push-back from those who don’t like it, because it benefits them, on a near spiritual level, to see “The Other” be emotionally downtrodden.

Not only do we need to be able to control our own image, but we need to be in a position to critique those images, because apparently, the reason why those images exist, will only be ignored by members of the dominant culture. The critiques of stories about us need to be done through a diverse lens, otherwise it will only result in reviews that say nothing, of any meaning, about our images.

White writers cannot talk about racial issues in media, and make their audience comfortable, at the same time. It’s not possible to do that and write about the Soci-Cultural issues being addressed in a show like Luke Cage, Beyoncé’s Lemonade, the movie Get Out, or the upcoming Black Lightning, and Black Panther, as that might come across to their White audiences as a indictment, and an attack, on Whiteness. And some of them won’t take  the step  of approaching their own discomfort.

PoC, who critique the media that is about us, don’t have that problem, because we’re not necessarily interested in being liked by our readers. (I mean, it’s important. But it’s not out top priority. ) We’re interested in delineating the hard truths, and hope people are willing to come on that journey with us.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Vs. … All The Rest

There have been three other iterations of the original 1956 movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Hollywood keeps rebooting this movie (in fact, there is yet another remake of this movie in the works), despite diminishing returns on its efforts. I blame this on a lack of understanding, by the last two directors, of the core themes.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

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The first film is based on Jack Finney’s novel of the same name, which was written in 1955. I haven’t read the book since I was a very young child, (like 9 or ten),  so I can’t speak to the authenticity of the plot vs. the book, but Hollywood has been fascinated with it for over six decades now, remaking it every twenty or so years, to less audience enjoyment.

The 1956 version was directed by Don Siegel, and starred Kevin McCarthy, and Dana Wynter. This version is very much a product of its time, so to understand its themes, you need to understand something about the era during which it was made.

A simplified version: Just after WW2, America and Russia were not on good terms with each other. The Russians were still reeling from the devastating 1941 German invasion, and America had just used its first nuclear weapons on Japan. So both countries were paranoid from the war, and shit talking each other in the media.

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During this time, the Red Scare, as it was called, was  ramped up to hysterical heights in the American media, by Senator Joseph MCCarthy. Called McCarthyism, there was increased paranoia that America was full of Russian spies, that they were everywhere,  and their goal was to destroy American democracy, and make America a communist nation.

American society was inundated by the media  ‘…with stories and themes of the infiltration, subversion, invasion, and destruction of American society by un–American thought and inhuman beings.’

… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Scare#Second_Red_Scare_(1947%E2%80%9357)

There were numerous congressional hearings, the federal government targeted Hollywood as the bastion of communist thought, popular actors were accused and blacklisted, careers were destroyed by even the smallest whispers of private disloyalty, people were encouraged to tell if any of their acquaintances were disloyal, and many of the movies from that time period reflected, not just the paranoia of the American government, but the fear that Hollywood actors  lived with, that at any time, they could be accused, and have to defend themselves against accusations of UnAmerican Activities. Just associating with the  accused, could put a person in the spotlight.

‘Some reviewers saw in the story a commentary on the dangers facing America for turning a blind eye to McCarthyism, “Leonard Maltin speaks of a McCarthy-era subtext.”[17] or of bland conformity in postwar Eisenhower-era America. Others viewed it as an allegory for the loss of personal autonomy in the Soviet Union or communist systems in general.[18]’The general consensus over the decades, is that the movie’s primary theme was anti-communism, even if the creators say there was no particular political allegory involved.

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In the movie, Dr,Miles Bennell is approached by patients who all claim their family members aren’t really them. Ironically, this is an actual mental illness known as Capgras Delusion, a psychiatric disorder in which a person believes that the people closest to them have been replaced by imposters. While investigating these delusions, he and his companions keep stumbling across pods, and duplicate bodies, and come to the terrifying realization that the delusion is all real, that humanity is being slowly duplicated and replaced by aliens spawned from seed pods.

The original story takes place in a small town in California called Santa Mira, and ends with the lead character, on his own, trying to warn the rest of the populace of the threat.The lead, Kevin MCcarthy, and the director, Don Siegel, both went on to make cameos in the 1978 remake.

The 1978 version manages not only to perfectly replicate the paranoia of the original, but build on it, by setting it in a large city, and  touching on themes of existential dread, mental illness, and urban isolation. It is, like the remake of The Thing, an exceptional example of a film remake.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

“Invasion of the Body Snatchers is regarded as one of the greatest film remakes ever made.[11] The New Yorker‘s Pauline Kael was a particular fan of the film, writing that it “may be the best film of its kind ever made”.[12] Variety wrote that it “validates the entire concept of remakes. This new version of Don Siegel’s 1956 cult classic not only matches the original in horrific tone and effect, but exceeds it in both conception and execution.”[13] The New York Times‘ Janet Maslin wrote “The creepiness [Kaufman] generates is so crazily ubiquitous it becomes funny.”[14]Related image

This version has an all-star cast of Veronica Cartwright, who had yet to star in the movie Alien, but had been the young star of Hitchcock’s The Birds, playing Nancy Bellicec. A very young, and handsome, Jeff Goldblum, as her husband Jack, whose career was just picking up speed.  Leonard Nimoy, who was still working against being typecast as Mr. Spock, plays Dr. David Kibner, Donald Sutherland is Matthew Bennell, a city health inspector, and Brooke Adams as his co-worker and best friend, Elizabeth Driscoll.

Yes, this is a remake, although McCarthy’s cameo, as a panicked pedestrian screaming about the alien invasion, in the same manner that the first film ended, has prompted some viewers to speculate that this is a sequel to the original film. (No.) All of the primary plot points of the original are replicated in this film, only writ large. Part of the success of this film is the skill, and charm, of the actors who are at the top of their game here, especially the relationship between Matthew and Elizabeth.

One of the more charming things in the movie is the genuine friendship between Matthew and Elizabeth, with more than a little unrequited love on Matthew’s part, although that’s never specifically stated. Elizabeth is already in a committed relationship with one of the first of the pod people, her dentist boyfriend. In any other movie, a romantic relationship between her and Matthew would be inevitable, but that’s not the focus of the film. It has other messages to convey.

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This version improves and embellishes on the original in ways that feel entirely natural, while keeping all of  the basic elements of the plotpoints of the original. When humans fall asleep, duplicate versions of them are birthed from pods, and the original body is destroyed. (So, yes, even though the duplicate has all the memories and thoughts of the original person, it is not them because  all of their the emotions are lacking, and the original body is dead.) The movie  manages to keep the mood and messages of the first film intact, while tweaking and embellishing the relationships and characters.

From  the opening moments, there is the theme of urban isolation, which is the opposite of the original’s theme, which focused on the closeness of a small-town environment, where everyone seemingly knows everyone, an environment which makes it all the more horrifying to find that people have changed, and that what was once known, is no longer. In the remake people are already unknown to one another, no one is really close in the city. This urban isolation is juxtaposed against the intimacy of Matthew and Elizabeth’s friendship, and their relationships to their friends The Bellicecs.

In the remake, the aliens are able to finish what they couldn’t accomplish in the first film. No one knows anyone in the city, and everyone lives in such small personal bubbles, that’s it easy for the pods to make significant inroads into the population. By the time Bennell finds out about the invasion, it’s already far too late to do anything to stop it, and it’s a just a matter of time until he, or one of his companions, falls asleep, and are changed.

I’ll have to do a more detailed review of this movie at a later date, because “I got some thoughts.”

Body Snatchers (1993)

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This version is set up as if it were a sequel to the second film, although none of the characters from the previous remake appear. Apparently, its a parallel story of the invasion, happening on some other front, and according to this movie, humanity is gonna lose, no matter how many pods get blown up at the ends of these films.

The 1993 version loses a lot of the atmosphere, and messages of the first two films, although it does make a game effort.  All of the basic rules of the first two movies, are kept in place. People fall asleep, duplicate versions of them come out of pods, and the original person is killed. This one takes place on a military base,  and there is a vague theme that the aliens are successful because of military conformity, or because people are unhappy, or something, but this isn’t clearly articulated.

Just as in the second film, the aliens get to speak for themselves, stating that pod-ification of humanity will solve all of its troubles, and the screaming and pointing stuff, from the previous remake is kept intact. The way a person is duplicated is every bit as disgusting, involving what appears to be large worms, but unlike in the first remake, it’s not entirely clear how the worms are draining a person’s life essence.

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You have to pay very close attention to infer the themes of this movie, and you are, more or less, left to guess what was the point. Unfortunately, paying close attention to the dialogue (which is actually not bad) brings the actors lack of skills to the forefront. Billy Wirth and Gabrielle Anwar are just bad, and many of the other characters already act like pod people before they get duplicated, so its hard to tell whether or not they’ve been replaced. These particular actors just  are  not in the same talent realm as those of the  previous remake. Theyre too young, for one thing, and simply don’t have the talent, or gravity, to carry this movie, although Christine Elise does turn in an engaging performance as the best friend of the lead character, Marti, played by Anwar.

The core plot is centered around the Malone family dysfunction, as Marti and her family, which consists of her, her father, her stepmother and her baby half-brother, have moved to a new military base. I think we’re meant to sympathize with Marti’s displacement and isolation, from her family, and her surroundings, where she has no connections or friends, and is angry for having to start all over again. I see the parallels the director was trying to make, but I  don’t think it was very successful, because Anwar’s performance is so bad, and she has an annoying, and unnecessary, voiceover, as well.

There’s some surprisingly sedate, and creepy, acting from R. Lee Ermey, from Full Metal Jacket fame, Meg Tilley, and even a cameo from Forest Whitaker, who gives one of the more compelling performances, as an officer who is terrified of being duplicated. Both Whitaker, and Ermey do a great job in their scene together, making you wish the movie had been entirely about them, and leaving out Marti’s family melodrama altogether. These three actors (Ermey, Whitaker, and Tilley) are the highlights in what is otherwise a mediocre film. It doesn’t begin to reach the heights of the previous one.

I get that the pod people are not meant to have strong personalities, but Tilley manages to imbue her pod-Mom with just enough personality to be really creepy, while the rest of the pod people don’t. There’s just all kinds of different acting across this movie, so the pod people don’t seem like so much as a unified group, as much as they seem like a bunch of people who have all been lobotomized.

This movie mostly stars a cut-rate cast, that is very obviously sub par to the 1978 version. Most of these actors, who were unknown at the time, continue to be unknown today, with the exception of the colonel played by Forest Whitaker, and Terry Kinney. who went on to star in the series “Oz”, for HBO, and Gabrielle Anwar later starred in Burn Notice, and Once Upon a Time. Billy Wirth (from The Lost Boys) stars as Tim, a young helicopter pilot, who becomes an unconvincing love interest for Marti. It seems that every body snatchers movie must include a, not-quite-romantic subplot.

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This movie differentiates itself from the first two by depicting the alien invasion from Marti’s point of view. She, and her friend Jenn, are the only two people on the entire base whose personalities seem to be intact.

While the film has some occasionally creepy moments, (as when Marti’s little brother first attends school, and we realize his entire classroom has been duplicated), it is rather lackluster, and  kinda disappointing. The duplication special effects don’t evoke the same fear and sadness that the process did in the 1978 version, the soundtrack isn’t as memorable as the city/heartbeat sounds of the previous movie, and the sonic screaming of the aliens in distress, is mostly all that’s left from the ’78 version. This was directed by Abel Ferrara, who went on to make more violent indie movies in the 90s, like Bad Lieutenant, and The Addiction.

The Invasion (2007)

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In 2007, the film was remade, yet again, this time directed by James McTeigue, and starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. The atmosphere of this one is cool and emotionally detached, almost as if the viewer had been duplicated, rather than the actors. The messages and themes of this movies are even more vague and unstated, but a close reading suggests that the messages of urban isolation, and peace through conformity are still intact.

This time Dr. Bennell is a woman (Kidman) and there are some brief feminist themes mentioned because of this change. This time the film is from her point of view, but also viewed through the lens of a parental love, as she seeks to protect her son, who is immune to the effect of duplication.

Everything about the 1978 film is jettisoned from this movie except the occasional name, so this is a clear reboot. Even the aliens themselves get an upgrade. There are no pods in this movie, but rather a kind of sentient virus, brought to Earth from some space debris, like in the movie The Blob. Anyone who is infected with the virus gets possessed by a kind of alien collective, after they fall asleep, but their primary body is left intact.

Dr. Carol Bennell is a psychiatrist whose patients start to report that the people they love are not who they seem. Daniel Craig stars as her counterpart Dr. Ben Driscoll, and they too have a not-quite- romance type of friendship, which is about the only thing kept intact from the original films. Carol has a young son named Oliver who, because of a previous illness, is immune to the virus. The plot becomes a race against time for Carol to save Oliver from one of the pod people, her ex-husband, Tucker, who wishes to kill the handful of humans who are immune.

This is a better movie than the 1993 version, mostly because it has better actors, although I have never liked Nicole Kidman, considering her to be an actress who lacks enough warmth to be engaging. She is too formal and icy for me to care about her plight, or buy her relationship with Oliver, although she does give it some effort. She’s not a bad actress. She’s just too emotionally remote. This is something that worked well when she starred in The Others, but not here.

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In an effort to approach some of the mood of the 1978 version, McTiegue only makes the viewer feel detached , although there are some deeply creepy moments, like various pod people trying  to get people to drink various infected fluids, and a scene where one of the pod people vomits in Carol’s face to infect her,  along with a couple of exciting chase scenes.

One of my favorite moments in this film is when Carol, pretending to be one of the pod people, is invited to dinner by the possessed child of one her friends. While they’re eating you can hear snippets of news shows, in the background, as someone talks about the Middle East Peace Treaties that were recently signed. I feel like that type of political idea should have played a larger part in the plot. Most certainly the political situations of the entire world would change after humanity is possessed by an alien species, and I found that intriguing.

Another scene I found intriguing, was a scene on a bus, with Carol and several other passengers pretending to be possessed, because they don’t know who is or isn’t possessed. I thought it was a very effective scene. This scene also contains some of the few Black people with speaking lines, in any of these movies, (there is Jeffrey Wright, and a Black cop who gives Carol advice in an earlier scene) and I was intrigued at the possibilities of some highly imaginative future director making a movie about how  an alien invasion would affect PoC, and their communities. Would they notice, and would they care if they did? I would love to see a movie where an ethnic community’s reaction to such an invasion is unexpected, positive, or even ignored. There are 7 billion people on this planet and not all of the reactions we would get to  such an invasion would be “fight it out” with guns, and explosions.

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It’s unlikely I will ever see a film about people who have already experienced colonization by a foreign entity, experiencing a second colonization by another. Alien invasion movies are almost always from a  Middle class, White,  Western perspective, are almost always about White people’ s reactions to being colonized, it is always  coded as a negative, and it always involve fighting and explosions. One of the most intriguing lines from the 1978 version is Veronica Cartwright’s character asking why people always expect metal ships. What makes IotB unique is that it is one of the few alien invasions caused by space travelling spores.

Once again, there’s a cameo of an actor from a previous film, Veronica Cartwright, who probably should’ve been allowed to play Dr. Bennell in this one, because she’s the most emotionally accessible character in the movie. Daniel Craig is completely unmemorable in this movie, as a love interest, who is so removed, he barely affects the plot. He barely affects Dr. Bennell. Jeffrey Wright is  a scientist who comes up with a way to stop the aliens. He is never in any danger and is mostly wasted, as he’s only there to give exposition. (I suppose we should be grateful that he survives the movie.)

The themes of this movie are even murkier than the last remake, although I get the focus is on familial bonds. But again, the emphasis on rugged individualism, and its protection at all costs, is something very common in White Western filmmaking.

There is a new version of this movie in development, or so the rumor goes, and I’d like to see some of the above themes addressed in it, but I’m not holding my breath. Chances are, it will be written by, and from the perspective of a White middle-class urban professional, and just reiterate the same themes of paranoia, and the protection of individual identity that were addressed so well in the first two films.  These movies have become less effective over time, and one way of grabbing a new audience is by infusing it with different thinking. What I would like to see is this film, done by a PoC, and what messages they might have to convey.

Weekend Reading From Around The Internetz

 Some people were insulted by the following statement, but I thought it was pretty funny. The writer says that teaching with humor was his intention. 
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Yo! Black people! Listen up!

I already KNOW y’all gonna sneak food into Black Panther. How do I know? Cuz all my friends are. Cuz all my family will. Cuz I’M going to sneak food into Black Panther. I’m going to do that all five times that I see the movie. Cuz theater food is A: not good and B: too damn expensive.

That said, remember, some of us WORK in theaters. Which means that if we all leave our outside food trash in a theater, we’re going to see a lot of our family being fired. Yes, theater employees can get FIRED if they find our people snuck in food.

So first of all, don’t be obvious and don’t get caught. Second of all, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR TRASH IN THE THEATER!

This doesn’t mean “don’t just put your empty bag of hot fries under the seat” (though, don’t do that either, act like you have a Mama). This means, do not put your outside food trash in the theater trash receptical. The bosses WILL see that and the employees WILL suffer for it.

Come on y’all, let’s not risk Black people’s jobs while supporting this movie.

Also, just a reminder to not bootleg this movie, and square up with anyone that does.

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Black Panther Toy Ad

This is what’s so great about this ad, and about Black Panther in general. I love that they added a little Black girl to the ad, and let her play just like the boys. (Ftr, I have no objection the White boy in the ad, because Black Panther is for everyone to enjoy, and I sincerely hope everyone does. We like to be inclusive here at Chez Lkeke.)

Because characters of color have historically been relatively marginalized in movies, comics, and television, toys and commercials like this simply haven’t existed before which is a shame in and of itself but has deeper consequences. Oftentimes, the first step towards becoming a fan of something or part of a larger fandom is finding a character that you can relate to when you’re young and then seeing your relationship with them validated by the world around you.

Black Excellence & Woman Power Prevails In New Commercial For Black Panther Toys

 

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This post elaborates on larger piece I wrote, about how White writers  tend to think of race,  and how that plays out in alien invasion movies, which is something I briefly touched on in my Invasion of the Body Snatchers reviews. White people have a tendency to believe they lack pathology, but a closer look reveals that much of their thinking plays out in the pop culture created by White, straight, cis-gender, men.

WHITE FRAGILITY

by Robin DiAngelo

http://w-f.is/uai.html
Whites are taught to see their perspectives as objective and representative of reality15. The belief in objectivity, coupled with positioning white people as outside of culture (and thus the norm for humanity), allows whites to view themselves as universal humans who can represent all of human experience. This is evidenced through an unracialized identity or location, which functions as a kind of blindness; an inability to think about Whiteness as an identity or as a “state” of being that would or could have an impact on one’s life. In this position, Whiteness is not recognized or named by white people, and a universal reference point is assumed. White people are just people. Within this construction, whites can represent humanity, while people of color, who are never just people but always most particularly black people, Asian people, etc., can only represent their own racialized experiences16.

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The above post is also connected to the idea of “Cousin Culture” among PoC, and is related to an article written by Damon Young, for The Root, titled : Do White People Have Cousins?

What is cousin culture, you ask? It’s existing in a family where:

  1. Cousins matter;
  2. There’s no real distinction between first, second and third cousins; and
  3. There are a few people who don’t share any blood with you but are your cousins, too, just because their asses are around all the time and you didn’t even know they weren’t technically related to you until you were, like, 25.

https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/do-white-people-have-cousins-1820685828

 

 

Link to Root.com Article:https://t.co/NREeovQyJD?amp=1

via @ BienSur_JeTaime on twitter

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This post was part of a long discussion about racism in Tolkien’s works, whether or not Tolkien himself was a racist, how did this racism play out in his writings, and can Tolkien’s influence be blamed for so much of the racism to be found in fantasy settings. The Hobbit was written in 1937, and since that time, there has been a metric fuckton of  film and literature that was heavily influenced by Tolkien’s books. S

Tolkien may not have been an avowed racist, like H.P. Lovecraft, but like him he had a profound effect on fantasy literature, and he certainly had a blind-spot as regards race, as do most of the people writing in the fantasy genre, and their fans.

Please take the time to visit and follow:   for more on this subject.

Image result for elves and racism

Hey guys my name is SomethingSomething MiddleInitial [Redacted] and today i’m gonna introduce you to the high fantasy world i’ve created! There’s lots of great diversity such as:
-White people that come in flavours of viking, merchant, and magical
-Tall elegant white people with pointy ears
-Short hardy white people with beards and axes

Looking for something other than white people? I’ve got you! On your left you can see:
-Savage, militaristic tribe coded as black or brown
-Honorable asian clan
-A race characterized entirely by negative jewish stereotypes

And don’t you worry: because i’m a coward i’ve also created a variety of non-human races that can be used as allegories for oppression without having to properly represent people of color in my work! You’re welcome!

 

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In a morbid, kind of way it’s interesting to see how the  internalized racism in Tolkien’s time that went unchecked due to the white society he was born in continues to go unchecked and internalized in the Tolkien fandom by white fans today.

The racist tropes that he wrote into his books are quite obviously those cultivated from his time, and because of the time they were written in it was a little more…understandable that readers then  were unable to realize their problematic nature. But still in 2017 white fans are still oblivious (either by ignorance or on purpose) to the deeper racism in his works, and that’s kind of scary.

And a lot of it comes from the fact that the fandom is so “white” dominate, so racism is typically examined from a “white” perspective, where it is whitesplained (Ie: No black people in Middle Earth, which to be fair isn’t quite true).

White fans tend to see racism as “action” as in, you must be doing a racist thing for it to be considered racist, and if you’re not doing a racist thing then you aren’t racist, and fail to realize that in itself racism starts with a mindset rather than an action. So “subtle” hints of racism get ignored.

Instances of racism that would be recognizable by people of color are invisible to white fans only because they haven’t experienced it, and have already solidified a “white” view of racism.

That said, the fact that white fans are more willing to listen to other white fans about racism in Tolkien’s characters and fandoms then they are willing to listen to actual people of color is, I think, is another example of white washed racism in the Tolkien fandom.

Racism is valid when white people are talking about it, but annoying, discourse, or reaching when people of color are talking about it. Why is that so? When did we get to this point?

The fact that I’ve seen white fans talking about racism being more well received than me and other fans of color talking about racism is disturbing, especially for a fandom that’s supposed to be so liberal (but the majority of fans I’ve seen in Tolkien-Tumblr are all white women in their late 20s and above, and thus the award holders for white feminism. And they validate the 16 year old white girls who think a year on tumblr gives them a degree on social justice, so an unhealthy cycle is continued).

If you find yourself drooling over a white girl’s explanation of racism in Tolkien fandom but rolling your eyes when a fan of color talks about it, then you need to reevaluate your life. Because white girls only know surface racism, people of color live it.

And this goes back to my point of “white washed” racism, and even further to our non-liberal fandom. It’s almost disappointing to see that as a fandom, we haven’t really progressed past Tolkien’s traditional, imperialistic views as far as racism goes.

I think a lot of this has to do with white feminism. One of the reasons we consider ourselves a liberal fandom because we can talk about sexism. But that’s slave-time feminism if we’re suddenly unable to listen to fans of color do the same with racism.

And of course I’m not talking about all white people in the Tolkien fandom, but it’s not very many that are not like this.

In my own experience I only know a handful.

 

#Ask me about how literally no one noticed “black men are raping our women” was being perpetrated in the way Tolkien wrote the Eöl story#How the only canonically non-white elf was treated in the narrative.#How the only cases of domestic abuse was – you guessed it! – between a non-white man who “forced” white women to marry them#The Silm is full of that shit#Which is why I like writing fanfiction to turn that all on its head#Wow. Am I *SUPER* salty over Tolkien fandom tonight. Must be the drink. XD#Tolkien fandom

@lunarymagic   I literally wrote an Entire Meta of Eol/Maeglin’s narrative and how it’s basically playing on racist tropes that are used to demonize men of color by making them demonize white women.

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When people are criticizing Lord of the Rings for not having POC in them, it’s more of a criticism on Jackson rather than Tolkien himself, considering Tolkien does have people of color in his works (and elves too).

But  the weird part about this is “die hard “ Tolkien fans are the ones defending Jackson’s whitewashed version of the film, despite the fact that there are canonically poc in Tolkiens works.

So like, that’s how you spot racist fans I guess? They’re die hard until someone asks why poc–which are in canon–are erased from Jackson’s portrayal? Suddenly it’s all “well its based off of norse mythology” or some bs like that despite the fact that a) it’s based off of other cultures and b) canonically Tolkein has POC in it.

So you’re “die hard” for the story, but you conveniently forget that there’s poc in it? In fact you’re so adamant about being anti-poc in his works because you’re such good fans?

I mean do yall Tolkienites defending Jackson’s white washing on the basis of it being “european” forget that some of its based off of ancient egypt? But you’re still the ones losing your shit over black elves and people? And just poc in general? I don’t get it.

Like you’re die hard until it gets a little too colorful for you. Why are you like this?

Not just white men, but white women in the Tolkien fandom as well. White feminism is a huge issue in the Tolkien fandom, and white women are the main culprits.

White men may be some of the more aggressive, as far as saying who and who doesn’t belong in story, and overall are behind the white washing.

But white fans that are women are the silent culprits who often uphold and validate racism behind the guise of feminism, which is often just white feminism.

 

Yeah, never let women off the hook for this shit. Or people who aren’t het, for that matter. Transformative fandom in general, AO3 in particular, is overwhelmingly made up of women, most of whom are white, and a good majority according to their polling do not identify as cishet. And it is a cesspool of white prioritization everywhere you look. Women did that all on their own with little to no male influence.

Anyway. They’re like that because they’re used to media centering on characters who look like them and they’ve been conditioned to believe that the whitewashing of history by.the film industry is accurate.

And really? Middle Earth, especially as portrayed by Jackson, has that “simpler times” brand of nostalgia for a time when white people didn’t have to worry about the rights of Black and brown people, it was out of sight, out of mind. Middle Earth being all white (except for otherized, threatening, rarely seen races) is part of the fantasy for a lot of people.

 

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Representation Matters

 

Image result for lt uhura gifs

 

Image result for ghost/whoopi gifs

So I’ve been overwhelmed by the black panther comicon appearance and I’ve been dwelling on how revolutionary the black panther movie is going to be, what it’s going to mean to countless people when this movie comes out and how long we still have to go, So I decided to put this short photoset together to illustrate exactly how big of a deal it is and how it is bigger than one person.

it’s so bittersweet because when I was younger (especially growing up where I did, a black kid in Finland) I really wished I had more access to imagery and media that reflected who I was because it would have made my life radically different for the better and I wouldn’t be at 26 (STILL) doing damage control but on the flipside, I’m so in awe of all of the beautiful talent in 2016 that younger black kids are able to see and be inspired by.

I think I was like 4 years old when I conciously picked up race and color via watching Disney’s “Aladdin” and I noticed how Jafar, the evil royal guards etc the villains were more ethnic looking or a shade darker than the “good” characters.

it’s insidious because you’re seeing something but at age 4, you don’t have the comprehension skill or knowledge to break it down and see it for what it is (Colorism, Societal bias against black people which is rooted in centuries of white supremacist doctrine, society associates things that are dark/darker colors with evil, danger, ugliness, dirt etc) and reject it.

so you pick it up and see it on a surface level and you think to yourself “well darker must mean ugly, criminal and less human”…then what happens when you look at yourself in the mirror and find out that you are black?

  how is that going to impact how you see yourself?

and guess what? if a 4 year old black kid can pick that up and internalize that about him/her/themselves….then a white kid can sponge up the same language and imagery that dehumanizes black people too (subconciously/conciously)…what happens when when these people grow up? become teachers, doctors, law enforcement etc? what kind of impact is that going to have?

I’m going off on a tangent and that’s just one personal example but society does that on a global grand scale and it is largely unchecked.

but honestly though,look at the photoset and think about how many talented people out there that we love and respect….who would NOT have achieved the things they did if it wasn’t for another person before them inspiring them to reach their goals and acting as trail blazers when it seemed as though it was impossible….then think about the flipside and how many people, with all the potential in the world, never lived to become great because they were met with more images dehumanizing them than ones uplifting them…this is why the fight for HONEST representation is important and it continues.

argh, I didn’t plan on typing anything but I got in my feelings after watching this again

…anyway, here are some pictures to make you smile, the next gen gives me hope

 

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Forthcoming Posts (Maybe?):

I’ve decided to wait for the DVD release of Blade Runner 2049 to do the second part of my review.

I’m going to wait for a couple more episodes before I review The X-Files, and 911. Black Lightning, Electric Dreams on Amazon, The Magicians, The Alienist, and something not really on showing up anyone’s radar, unless they have Starz, called Counterpart, which stars J.K Simmons..

A review of first half of season 8 of The Walking Dead.

The use/themes of fashion in movies and TV, the best TV/Movie costumes, and a post on “Movies I loved but y’all hated”.

I hope to get a lot of these done, along with posts about the importance of  the movie Bebe’s Kids, The Thing vs. The Thing, Hannibal the series: Season Three, and more Star Trek Discovery.

I’ve found it’s more helpful for me to watch a batch of episodes of a show, and then review it, rather than trying to catch individual episodes. It’s probably best not to pay too close attention to my promises, anyway  though. I’ve often found my ambitions to be greater than my time.

Movie Essays Weekend Linkspam

Here’s a collection of some of the better themed movie essays from the  last few weeks:

The Last Jedi

Image result for last jedi

The Last jedi was a very polarizing film, apparently. It’s one of those films that seem to have no middle ground. Either you hate it for ruining your childhood, or you love it because it was some fun and  unpredictable filmmaking. On the other hand there’s some really wrong character shit going on in this movie, that is completely at odds with what happened in the last one. And then there’s the emphasis on Space Fuckbwoy, Kylo Ren. That was just deeply, deeply 🙄 Meh!

Despite all of the above, I actually enjoyed the movie, though. I went into it expecting a lot of action, some laughs, and a little bit of depth, and that’s mostly what I got. There were definitely parts I didn’t care for (I thought the Rey and Kylo scenes were  cringeworthy, and the movie could have used more Rose, Finn and Poe, acting like normal people, the way they did in the first movie,) but overall, the movie was watchable, with lots of action, some moments of pathos, and bravery, and just plain awesomeness, and many people seem to really love it. I’m giving those people the side eye, just a tiny bit 😳but they love it, so okay. I think it measures up to the first trilogy pretty well, (but with better acting from Mark Hamill, who I loved.

http://www.theodysseyonline.com/star-wars-fandom-toxicity-problem

https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/12/18/16791844/star-wars-last-jedi-backlash-controversy

https://www.wired.com/story/star-wars-last-jedi-the-resistance-tactical-mistake/

https://theconcourse.deadspin.com/a-list-of-some-of-the-times-the-last-jedi-told-the-olde-1821396631

“This is Not Going to Go the Way You Think”: The Last Jedi Is Subversive AF, and I Am Here for It

https://www.theringer.com/2017/12/23/16812542/the-last-jedi-still-speciesist

https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-last-jedi-killed-my-childhood-and-thats-exactly-wh-1821429836

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/12/star-wars-the-last-jedi-backlash-negative-fan-reactions-rotten-tomatoes-score

http://blacknerdproblems.com/star-wars-last-jedi-rebel-yell-fans-rebel-scum/

Media and Race

 

Image result for hallmark xmas movies *A post about how White those Hallmark Xmas movies are. There are a handful of movies with African-Americans in them, that are about Xmas, but this post questions why Hallmark movies are so alike, as to be interchangeable.

https://thewalrus.ca/the-unwatchable-whiteness-of-holiday-movies/ strong>

Posts about the Whitewashing of the Old West:

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/10/how-the-west-was-lost/502850/ strong>

 

Image result for coco movie

*Whenever possible, I like to read reviews by PoC, especially when the movies they’re reviewing have prominent people of color in the casts. I intend to do this for Black Panther, just as I did for Luke Cage, and Beyonce’s Lemonade, not because White people don’t have anything to say, but because reviews by White critics will be easily accessible, and I want to signal boost the opinions of the people these movies are about.

The latest Star Wars movie features three MoC,  and finally, a WoC , and I want to hear what those critics have to say about them. Coco is a Spanish language cartoon centered in Mexican culture and I want to hear what actual Latinx critics have to say about the movie.

http://remezcla.com/lists/film/latino-film-critics-review-pixar-coco/

http://remezcla.com/lists/film/latino-film-critics-star-wars-last-jedi/ strong>On the consumption of Black pain as entertainment:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/detroit-and-the-problem-with-watching-black-pain-through-a-white-lens_us_597f8907e4b08e143004bbf1

 

*A lot of Asian Americans were not happy with the depiction , and treatment, of Mantis in this movie, and I have to agree. I found the character’s  treatment the absolutely cringiest part of the film:

http://www.bitchmedia.org/article/asian-women-abuse-in-science-fiction

Image result for mantis gotg 2

 

*Why are there so few WoC in the horror genre, as supernatural beings, and the handful of times they are, they’re treated badly?

http://www.vulture.com/2017/10/black-witches-why-cant-they-get-respect-in-pop-culture.html

Image result for women of black panther movie

We’re getting so many posts about Black Panther long before the movie is released. Expect a flood of them afterwards.

http://www.theroot.com/wakanda-forever-on-the-importance-of-black-panther-1820459283

‘A Wrinkle in Time’ Is Just As Important As Black Panther

 

Media and Gender

Image result for rosa diaz

Star Trek Discovery successfully tackled the subject of male rape and trauma, in its first season, while Brooklyn 99 tackled the subject of bi-sexuality, when one of its most prominent characters, Rosa Diaz, came out, paralleling the  decision of the real life actress.

http://www.theverge.com/2017/11/13/16644468/star-trek-discovery-rape

https://www.autostraddle.com/rosa-diazs-big-coming-out-on-brooklyn-nine-nine-was-bittersweet-and-specifically-bisexual-404571/#comments

https://www.autostraddle.com/autostraddles-favorite-and-least-favorite-lgbtq-tv-characters-of-2017-404976/

https://shadowandact.com/hyper-tokenism-ii-othering-the-black-female-body-in-star-wars-the-force-awakens/

View story at Medium.com

Star Trek Discovery Review

 

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Before we get started on the second half of the new season, let’s talk about what I liked and disliked about this new show, and do some quick character reviews. I know some of you had some doubts about this show and you can decide for yourself whether or not it’s worth your time, based on my observations. I’m gonna try to be as fair as I can considering I’m biased.

Let me lay out my credentials: I’m an OG Star Trek fan, since about ten or so. I’ve been around since the replays of the Original series back in the 80s, and have watched every episode, multiple times, over the last 35 years. I’ve seen every movie multiple times, can quote dialogue, know most characters backstories, from having read almost all the books , and vowed I would marry Mr. Spock when I was twelve years old. I was a Trek fan before I was a fan of Star Wars,and that’s where the bulk of my nerd-love went.

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I have to admit, I’m kinda addicted to this show, which surprised me, after my initial reserve of those first two episodes. I got into it about six episodes in,when CBS All Access offered a special subscription. As I’ve said, there’s nothing else on the network worth looking at, but I’ve heard there are some promising shows for the future, and I think this is one of them. It’s tackled a couple of sensitive issues with Star Trek’s usual care, and lack of hysteria, and it has some intriguing characters.

The major plot consists of Captain Lorca’s efforts to create a weapon that will help Starfleet win in the war against the Klingons. To that end, he has Michael’s transport shuttle waylaid, so he can use her big brain to help him to do this. Over time, we learn that he has Carte Blanche to do whatever he pleases, as long as it accomplishes his goal. When they find another ship whose crew wiped out by a hostile alien, called a tardigrade, they capture the alien, and use it, (and it’s parasitic relationship with some sentient mushroom spores) to create a new form of trans warp drive, that allows their ship to movie itself anywhere instantly.

When Michael and Stamets find out that their use of the creature is killing it, Michael, in her compassion, sets it free, and prepares to use her own body in place of the alien, to communicate with the spores, but Stamets sacrifices himself instead, and by the end of the season, they have accomplished their goal of creating a new weapon in the war, to spectacular fashion, in an episode rivaling the TNG two parter, The Best of Both Worlds. But Stamets is so changed in personality by what he has done, as to be unrecognizable from when we first met him,and there will be repercussions from that, as biological experimental weapons are outlawed in Starfleet.

 

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In the meantime, most of Michael’s actions, on the ship,revolve around her navigating  new, and old,  relationships, and occasionally saving the ship. She is usually the one person who thinks differently enough from any of the other characters (due to her dual heritage) that she is able to come up with solutions to their problems.

 

Up first:

I like the relationships and characters most of all. ST has never shied away from relationship stories. In fact, I’d argue those were some of the best episodes of any of the series. But Star Trek has always been very plot driven, too, and Discovery does not skimp on that end. I find everything except the  Klingons to be compelling. The special effects are good, and the writing is well done, often involving a primary plot, a B plot, and a couple of smaller subplots, all of them elegantly intertwined, such that what you think is a B or subplot could have an effect on the main one, at any moment, or come into play later in the season.

A word of warning:

 

This is a very dark show. If you liked DS9, then you’ll probably like this one. I was not a huge DS9 fan until after the series ended. But I like how dark this show is. The characters aren’t as blandly pleasant as they were in TNG, which I also liked a lot, or as polarizing as in the Original series. The show has dealt with war, ptsd, rape trauma, spiritual possession, revenge, and treason, and that’s just in the first half of the season.

If you’re used to thinking of Star Trek as light and fluffy, then just remember the Original series had some occasionally very dark episodes too, that addressed serious social issues, like Toxic Masculinity, in Charlie X, and The Enemy Within. It dealt with sexism in Turnabout Intruder, and frequently dealt with issues of population control, slavery, conflicted identity, and the nature of violence. One of my all time favorite episodes of Voyager was the introduction of a member of the immortal Q Continuum who wanted to commit suicide, but was prevented from doing so by the others, in Death Wish. I think that’s probably the only episode, of any of the series, to ever bring me to tears.

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If you’re looking for fun and fluffy, this has very little of it to go around. There are occasionally beautiful moments, (you can see this show costs money), and some lighthearted banter, but that’s not the focus of the show.

Now let’s talk about the six primary characters:

Michael Burnham:

Image result for star trek discovery michael

Its hard to get a grasp on this character. She really is the main focus of the show. She has most of the onscreen time,and many of the episodes revolve around how she thinks and feels, but she is not an especially demonstrative character, due to her Vulcan upbringing, and it’s takes time, and lots of viewing, to get some idea of what she’s thinking and feeling. She is brave, idealistic, and earnest. And at least is not as stiffly formal as when we first met her. She is learning to act more human, I’m going to argue that she either suppressed or ignored her emotions as being irrelevant, because that’s how so many Vulcans operate.

We need to keep in mind that the third episode and the subsequent episodes take place immediately after her court martial, so I’m guessing all within the space of a year, or a few months. Her entrance to Lorca’s ship gets off to a rocky start, as she is rebuffed by Tilley, and tested by Stamets, and rebuked by Saru, who is terrified of her. But over time, these individuals start to understand her worth, as she regularly saves their lives, and they warm to her.

Everyone questions her purpose on the ship, but Lorca knows why he wants her. She’s smart as fuck, and has no qualms about kicking Klingon ass. And I think he just admires her, for her. She has been a great asset to his ship, but no matter how useful she is to him, she has to always keep in mind that she is under a life imprisonment sentence with Starfleet, and is, basically, a convict, whose sentence has been briefly commuted. When Lorca’s mission is over she believes she will go back to prison, so that’s the sword that is hanging over her head throughout all her missions,and informs some of her decision making.

 

Tilly:

Image result for star trek discovery tilly

Tilly is Michael’s roommate, and I immediately disliked Tilly, at first, because of the way she treated Michael when they first met. But, I’ve grown to really, really like her. Sometimes more than Michael, but Michael is a very heavy character, who is hard to cozy up to, because she’s so closed with her emotions. Tilly’s emotions are wide open, which makes her more easily accessible, and one of the most likable people on the show. If Michael is the intellect, then Tilly is the heart of the show, and in their friendship, we can see a reflection of the relationships of the Original series, (Kirk, Spock ,and McCoy, who often acted as Kirks intellect and conscience). The only word that can truly describe Tilly, is ” bubbly”.

She is often the comedy relief, for whom Michael plays the straight man, and has sort of appointed herself to be Michael’s emotional liaison, helping her navigate a human social system, without any rank to smooth the way, and I would argue that they are great friends, or getting there. Michael has none, so has to work out each individual relationship, as she encounters them. Tilley has also appointed Michael to be her mentor, and I can’t tell you how heartening it is to watch Michael develop the same relationship with Tilley that she had with Gheorgiu, and fulfilling Gheorgius wishes for her.

Another thing I have to applaud the show for is Tilly’s relationship with Michael is  treated as a priority for both of them, and the writers show that by not creating a trite love triangle between Tilly, Ash, and Michael. It is Tilly who shows initial interest in Ash, but when she can see that Ash and Michael have a connection, she steps aside, and encourages Michael to pursue a relationship with him. In the hands of lesser writers, Tilly and Michael would have competed for Ash’s attention, and I appreciate that these writers were more mature.

Bryan Fuller is known for having positive female relationships in his shows and I am here for it, and I love seeing it.

 

Ash Tyler:

Image result for star trek discovery ash

Ash is played by the exceptionally handsome Shazad Latif, he of the big round eyes! When Captain Lorca gets kidnapped by the Klingons, he gets trapped in a cell with Ash, who had been a prisoner for some time, and was only alive because L’Rel, a female Klingon, took a romantic fancy to him. He later talks about his time with her, to Michael, and we come to understand that he was in fact raped repeatedly by L’Rel, as he slept with her to keep from being tortured and killed, like all the other prisoners who were captured before him. When L’Rel surrenders to Lorca, she gets sent to brig and we see Ash have his first panic attack, as he suffers from ptsd. The writers handle the issues of rape, and post traumatic stress, delicately, and with respect.

After a successful mission with Michael, that saves the ship, Ash gets appointed to Head of Security, as he and Michael form a strong emotional bond. It’s not exactly a romance yet, but there is an implied intimacy of feeling between the two, and they do discuss having a future romantic relationship. Later, during a time travel episode, they share their first kiss. Star Trek has portrayed many different types of romances, but this is one of the few interracial relationships, on any of its shows, that do not involve a White partner, (most interracial relationships on TV involve a White partner), or an alien, and I think it’s handled very well, with care and sensitivity for both their issues, although I suspect it will turn out to be tragic, as the future doesn’t look good for an ex-con, whose only free on sufferance, and a Head of Security in Starfleet.

 

Lt. Saru:

Image result for star trek discovery saru

Saru is played by the inimitable Doug Jones, from Hellboy, and The Shape of Water. If you’re interested in some interesting tidbits and updates on his career (along with some great philosophical analysis of mythology in pop culture) then check out, and follow, his brothers website:

For smart, philisophocal reading on superheroes, follow my oldest brother Bobby and scroll down his WordPress entries!

Saru is another character that is hard to warm up to, but only because he’s so bluntly, and directly suspicious of Michael. I have to keep in mind that Saru is traumatized by the loss of his captain,which really wasn’t that long ago, and blames Michael, and in many ways, himself. Saru is an alien from a member of what he calls, “a prey species”, and so has developed a keen ability to detect danger. He often talks about being risk avoidant, but I’ve seen this character be brave and fearless in a couple of episodes, so I’m taking what he says about himself with a grain of salt.

Over time he does begin to warm up to and trust mIchael, but he never loses his initial suspicion of her. He’s still very wary, but the two of them reached a moment of ,if not friendship, then at least detente,when Michael is delivered Gheorgius last will and testament in the form of a giant telescope, that was her family heirloom. Gheorgius last words to Michael is the first really tearjerker moment in the series, which is only equaled by the scene in which Michael offers the telescope to Saru. In fact we learn about what Saru thinks and feels in that episode,so we reach a fuller understanding of him, even if he is difficult to warm to. He’s not a bad character. He’s not even especially dark. He’s just afraid, but I’m very protective when it comes to Michael’s character, and tend to give the side eye to anyone on the show, who doesn’t like her.

Saru is too traumatized to ever trust Michael. He is always going to be afraid of her, and what she might do, but he makes it clear that he has the utmost respect for her, and I’ll accept that.

 

Lt. Stamets:

Image result for star trek discovery stamets and culber

I think all of these characters start out as inherently unlikable, but over time you grow to like them,and none more so than Stamets. He is also a lot like Lorca, in that he is focused and needs to work on his social skills, as he is very blunt and direct, and I initially hated him. When he first meets Michael, he tests her scientific knowledge, but once she has proven she is capable, he simply doesn’t care about her past. She is a member of his crew and the only person he considers smarter than her, is himself. As a character, he is every bit as idealistic and brave as any of the other characters from previous series, and becomes much more likable after he forms an intimate relationship with some sentient mushroom spores. (Don’t ask!) Although, without the influence of the mushrooms, Stamets is the kind of person you’re either terrified of, or just want to slap the living shit out of.

Stamets is married to the ships doctor, Hugh Culber. I liked how their relationship was portrayed in the show, as just like any other. The audience is gradually introduced to them as a romantic couple, living together as partners, over time. Culber doesn’t have a huge role in the show as of this time, but we’ll see more of him as the series progresses. There’s also another one of the first (and few) gay kisses on a Star Trek show, (DS9 had a couple of them), and it is given the full romantic treatment, with swelling music, and swooping camera angles, that it should be given, as Stamets prepares to risk his life to save the ship. Earlier in the season Michael got her own romantic moment with Ash.

Culber is focused and dedicated in his work, and is an absolute cinnamon roll compared to Stamets. Nevertheless, you can see in their interactions with each other, why Culber loves him,and Culber is one of the few people who can call Stamets on his bullshit, and get away with it.

Anthony Rapp, and Wilson Cruz, are both openly gay actors who play openly gay characters, which is how it should be.

 

Captain Lorca:

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Let’s get this out of the way. You will not like Lorca. He isn’t meant to be liked, and he isn’t likable. If you’re expecting someone like Picard or Kirk, then you need to go home, cuz he ain’t the one. Picard, Kirk, and the others were captains of exploratory, diplomatic ships. They were chosen specifically for their positions because of their charm, idealism, diplomacy, candor, and all those other fine qualities. Lorca is the captain of a ship of war. He is mysterious, shifty, shady, unreliable, ruthless, conniving, and morally gray, but he is not evil. At least not actively so. He was appointed to his position for the specific purpose of puttin’ a whoopin’ on some Klingon asses, and that’s his top priority. His job, and his ship are focused on creating new weapons for Starfleet. He is focused and blunt (I can identify with that to a degree), and will sacrifice anyone or anything to meet his ends.

He likes to collect things, and his dimly lit office, (he has some kind of eye disorder that makes him allergic to bright lights) is full of all manner of alien curios, including a live tribble, and some Gorn armor. He’s intriguing and I ljust know he’s getting shipped with somebody on this show even though he isn’t close to any of his crew. He’s generally respectful but he’s not a warm man. The only time we ever see him be warm is with his lover, and oldest friend, Admiral Cornwell.

He is the kind of man that makes no effort to be the bigger person. He saves Ash from the Klingons but when he finds out that Harry Mudd is a spy for them, he leaves him behind to be tortured by them, which is something that comes back to bite him in the ass later, When his lover, Admiral Cornwell , gets captured by the Klingons, he makes no effort to rescue, her because she called into question his ability to command,and planned to report him to Starfleet. And although there are no details, the loss of his light vision is directly attributable to some dust-up he had with Klingons.

It’s interesting that no mention of him is made in any of the other series, which take place long after his death. So I do wonder what happened to him and the technology he created in this show. I very much suspect that he and his ship are destroyed, or are lost somehow. Although we need to keep in mind which universe this show takes place in. Is it the 2009 Star Trek Verse, or the Original series/movie Verse?

 

Favorite episodes:

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Episode 6: Lethe – This one is about Michael’s relationship with Sarek, her decision to join Starfleet, and a mystery she needs to resolve between the two of them to save Sareks life. Some great character work from Sonequa, and Frain.

Episode 7: Magic To Make the Sanest Man Go Mad – This was my all time favorite episode, which surprised me because I’m familiar with the old Harry Mudd episodes from the Original series,and those were not my favorites. So when I heard that the new series would re-introduce this character, I automatically dismissed him. But this episode proved extremely likable.  And Rainn Wilson makes a very compelling Harry Mudd.The events of this episode are directly brought about by Lorca’s previous actions in an earlier episode.

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*There’s a scene where the crew is having a party and the music you hear playing in the background is definitely Al Green’s “Love and Happiness”, and Wycliffe Jean’s “We Tryin’ to Stay Alive” and  Tilley refers to this as Classical music. (All you gotta do is put some of my favorite music in your show to make me a fan for life, apparently. ) Michael dances with Stamets, and Ash and Michael share their first kiss. This episode sets up Michael as being qualifying romantic potential.

Episode 8: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum – I actually think this is one of the weakest episodes of this season, because the plot is rather typical, what sets it apart is Doug Jones awesome performance, as an exceptionally dangerous being, possessed by another alien species. This episode belongs entirely to Lt. Saru.

Episode 9: Into The Forest I Go – The last episode before the hiatus is just some great plotting,as far as I’m concerned. Outside of the Harry Mudd episode is the second best of the season, and a great setup for the major changes to come in the second half.

 

The show picks up the second half of its season on January 9th. And while I’m looking forward to new episodes, I’m kinda pissed that I have to wait a week between them as CBS has string the episodes out to keep people subscribing to their channel. They seem pretty aware that the only reason any of us signed up for it is to watch this show,and that as soon as it’s over, we’ll drop this channel. Hopefully, they’ll release some new shows before we all feel an urge to cancel it.

New Year’s Reading (Writing)

Writer’s Resources & Encouragement

 Here’s some advice and encouragement on writing people of color, from Tumblr:
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Characters of Color: Things Every Writer Should Know

I am a white author, and along with many other white authors I know, I worry about stereotyping characters or talking about a subject I don’t feel I have the right to. First off, we all need to get over the fear of misrepresentation or stereotyping and focus on doing our research. Obviously, every writer does not know the experience of EVERY race, culture, or sexuality, etc. However, as writers of any color, we are still capable of sharing these experiences through characters that might not be exactly like us. We shouldn’t exclude characters just because we don’t fully understand. We should do our job and learn more about them, so that these characters can have greater representation in fiction.

We all go through very similar experiences as human beings and we all have fears, hopes, dreams, and goals in some way or another. Acting like we can’t grasp a human experience because we’re not the same skin color is ridiculous. Sure, there are aspects of life that we only experience as a reflection of our skin color and our lives can be drastically different, but as writers we get into the heads of ALL different people. We spend time researching. We spend time trying to understand. Our curiosity and creativity IS what makes us writers. So, don’t be afraid to include characters that aren’t exactly like you because YOU DO IT ALL THE TIME AND YOU DON’T EVEN REALIZE IT.

 

Being afraid of “getting it wrong” might be a general fear, but you can’t let that stop you. If anything it should force you to do as much research as possible in order to get it right. It’s very hard to write a character wrong unless you are disrespectful of their experience, you don’t care, or you don’t take the time to understand something.  And writing characters of color or characters that don’t share your background doesn’t mean knowing everything about their history since the dawn of time because you’re still writing within the context of your story. You need to make them real and you need to develop them, just like any other character.

There are so many opportunities to move beyond your “standard main character” and start writing more underrepresented characters. It’s a shame that this is something we have to discuss all the time, but as writers, we can break the cycle.

-Kris Noel

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This is just a general guideline for how NOT to write stereotypical Black characters. I should note that sometimes, depending on what you’re writing, a stereotype may be unavoidable, but sometimes that can be mitigated by giving the character a great deal of complexity and depth, if it’s a primary character. Best not try this with secondary or side characters. At any rate you should probably get what’s known as sensitivity readers, people from the racial backgrounds in question, who can point out if you’re being offensive.

I need to point out that you need to do your research on racial stereotypes. If you don’t know what they are, then you don’t to avoid using  them, and  considering yourself not racist isn’t enough. We all receive subtle racial messaging we are unaware of, on the daily.

Oh, and AAVE means African American Vernacular English (Slang). Just have them speak standard English because, unless you’re in the culture (or grew up speaking it), you’re definitely going to get the use of the words wrong. What’s interesting is that those of us who speak AAVE can always spot a fake, and can even tell what generation and/or geography a person is from, based on what AAVE they’re using. It’s just like any other language you don’t know. If you don’t know it, don’t try it.

How to write fic for Black characters: a guide for non-Black fans

eshusplayground

  1. Don’t characterize a Black character as sassy or thuggish, especially when the character in question is can be described in literally ten thousand other ways..
  2. Don’t describe Black characters as chocolate, coffee, or any sort of food item.
  3. Don’t highlight the race of Black characters (ie, “the dark man” or “the brown woman”) if you don’t highlight the race of white characters.
  4. Think very carefully about that antebellum slavery or Jim Crow AU fic as a backdrop for your romance.
  5. If you’re not fluent with AAVE, don’t use it to try to look cool or edgy. You look corny as hell.
  6. Don’t use Black characters as a prop for the non-Black characters you’re actually interested in.
  7. Keep “unpopular opinions” about racism, Black Lives Matter, and other issues pertinent to Black folks out the mouths of Black characters. We know what the fuck you’re doing with that and need to stop.
  8. Don’t assume a Black character likes or hates a certain food, music, or piece of pop culture.
  9. You can make a Black character’s race pertinent without doing it like this.
  10. Be extremely careful about insinuating that one or more of a Black character’s physical features are dirty, unclean, or ugly.

Feel free to add more.

 

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As I said, if you want to avoid racism in your work, its not enough to just think of yourself as colorblind. The problem with being colorblind is you don’t see the stereotypes you’re engaging in either. You have to actively think about the use and placement of race within the narrative.

Writing without racism: its more than “what”, its also “how”.

phoenix-ace

 

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.

 

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Here’s another reason to actively think about the subject of race when writing (or even not writing) your work. Just because the world you’re writing about is colorblind, does not mean that you, or your readers,  are. You and your audience exist in a  universe where race is a factor, and you will bring that into your work, no matter how well-intentioned you believe yourself to be.

@ other white authors:

iamatinyowl

If you do not mention your characters being specifically non-white? Your white readers will view them ALL as canonically white.

It is our responsibility to make it very, very clear that our characters are POC.

Just look at the horrifically racist Hermione debacle. She is canonically described as having big hair and dark skin. And yet, the white supremacists in the fandom are ripping apart any person who canons her as black. Despite the fact that a Black Hermione makes her being called slurs, and her commitment to SPEW SO much more significant and powerful.

We NEED to specifically and explicitly state that our characters are not white. We also need to make one million times sure (I’m talking aggressive paid and volunteer editing from any marginalized group you don’t belong to) that we are not enforcing racist stereotypes or damaging marginalized people.

POC representation by white authors doesn’t fucking matter unless theyre respectful, reoccurring, diverse, realistic, and humanized characters.

Even if you’re writing a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel where humanity doesn’t care about race anymore (yikes), you need to think long and hard about why the “skin colour doesn’t matter” villain who betrays them all just happens to be Black.

 

Fanfiction

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Here are one person’s thoughts on the nature, purpose, and importance of fanfiction. I have observed that any popular media that appeals to, or is created by women, is often denigrated by men, and fanfiction, since it’s primarily created and consumed by women, is not exempt from this. Its part of the general attitude of degrading anything that women do (cooking), or create (fanfiction),  or consume (romance novels), in an attempt to elevate the work of male creators and consumers.  
inkandcayenne
tywinning asked you:
2012-08-09 03:37

As a professor, may I ask you what you think about fanfiction?

I think fanfiction is literature and literature, for the most part, is fanfiction, and that anyone that dismisses it simply on the grounds that it’s derivative knows fuck-all about literature and needs to get the hell off my lawn.

Most of the history of Western literature (and probably much of non-Western literature, but I can’t speak to that) is adapted or appropriated from something else.  Homer wrote historyfic and Virgil wrote Homerfic and Dante wrote Virgilfic (where he makes himself a character and writes himself hanging out with Homer and Virgil and they’re like “OMG Dante you’re so cool.“  He was the original Gary Stu).  Milton wrote Bible fanfic, and everyone and their mom spent the Middle Ages writing King Arthur fanfic.  In the sixteenth century you and another dude could translate the same Petrarchan sonnet and somehow have it count as two separate poems, and no one gave a fuck.  Shakespeare doesn’t have a single original plot–although much of it would be more rightly termed RPF–and then John Fletcher and Mary Cowden Clarke and Gloria Naylor and Jane Smiley and Stephen Sondheim wrote Shakespeare fanfic.  Guys like Pope and Dryden took old narratives and rewrote them to make fun of people they didn’t like, because the eighteenth century was basically high school.  And Spenser!  Don’t even get me started on Spenser.

Here’s what fanfic authors/fans need to remember when anyone gives them shit: the idea that originality is somehow a good thing, an innately preferable thing, is a completely modern notion.  Until about three hundred years ago, a good writer, by and large, was someone who could take a tried-and-true story and make it even more awesome.  (If you want to sound fancy, the technical term is imitatio.)  People were like, why would I wanna read something about some dude I’ve never heard of?  There’s a new Sir Gawain story out, man!  (As to when and how that changed, I tend to blame Daniel Defoe, or the Modernists, or reality television, depending on my mood.)

I also find fanfic fascinating because it takes all the barriers that keep people from professional authorship–barriers that have weakened over the centuries but are nevertheless still very real–and blows right past them. Producing literature, much less circulating it, was something that was well nigh impossible for the vast majority of people for most of human history.  First you had to live in a culture where people thought it was acceptable for you to even want to be literate in the first place.  And then you had to find someone who could teach you how to read and write (the two didn’t necessarily go together).  And you needed sufficient leisure time to learn.  And be able to afford books, or at least be friends with someone rich enough to own books who would lend them to you.  Good writers are usually well-read and professional writing is a full-time job, so you needed a lot of books, and a lot of leisure time both for reading and writing.  And then you had to be in a high enough social position that someone would take you seriously and want to read your work–to have access to circulation/publication in addition to education and leisure time.  A very tiny percentage of the population fit those parameters (in England, which is the only place I can speak of with some authority, that meant from 500-1000 A.D.: monks; 1000-1500: aristocratic men and the very occasional aristocratic woman; 1500-1800: aristocratic men, some middle-class men, a few aristocratic women; 1800-on, some middle-class women as well).

What’s amazing is how many people who didn’t fit those parameters kept writing in spite of the constant message they got from society that no one cared about what they had to say, writing letters and diaries and stories and poems that often weren’t discovered until hundreds of years later.  Humans have an urge to express themselves, to tell stories, and fanfic lets them.  If you’ve got access to a computer and an hour or two to while away of an evening, you can create something that people will see and respond to instantly, with a built-in community of people who care about what you have to say.

I do write the occasional fic; I wish I had the time and mental energy to write more.  I’ll admit I don’t read a lot of fic these days because most of it is not–and I know how snobbish this sounds–particularly well-written.  That doesn’t mean it’s “not good”–there are a lot of reasons people read fic and not all of them have to do with wanting to read finely crafted prose.  That’s why fic is awesome–it creates a place for all kinds of storytelling.  But for me personally, now that my job entails reading about 1500 pages of undergraduate writing per year, when I have time to read for enjoyment I want it to be by someone who really knows what they’re doing.  There’s tons of high-quality fic, of course, but I no longer have the time and patience to go searching for it that I had ten years ago.

But whether I’m reading it or not, I love that fanfiction exists.  Because without people doing what fanfiction writers do, literature wouldn’t exist.  (And then I’d be out of a job and, frankly, I don’t know how to do anything else.)

Source: inkandcayenne

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Writing with Color on Tumblr is a great resource for writing characters of other races,  ethnicities, and cultures. if you have any questions about how to write a certain character they have the advice for it. They can also provide resources for  sensitivity readers, and volunteer editors, of  your work.

 

http://writingwithcolor.tumblr.com/Recommendations

 

 

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