Tumblr Hot Takes

I’ve been on Tumblr for a while now, and I’m still not tired of it. Here are a few hot takes about various subjects.

On Acting

Image result for mediocrity

sc*rjo made more than 2 facial expressions for the first time in her career and got a leading actress nomination meanwhile lupita played 2 entirely different people in the same movie and got snubbed.. shut it down

 

People in the comments are missing the entire picture.

It’s not as simple as ScarJo getting nominated and Lupita not and it’s not about our “fave” vs your “fave”.

Scarjo was nominated for playing a normal, regular woman whose relationship breaks down. Haven’t we seen this before? I think it was Revolutionary Road with Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio. Before that it was The War Of the Roses with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas, before that it was Kramer vs. Kramer with Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman, all of which were nominated for various awards from the Bafta’s to the Golden Globes to the Oscars… the point being, we’ve seen this role over and over again, the actress just changes.

Lupita literally played TWO SEPERATE PEOPLE in the MOST ORIGINAL MOVIE OF 2019 and was shafted. A very limited group of actresses could have pulled off what Lupita did in Us. Horror or not, she put on a better performance than Scarjo did in A Marriage Story. Horror or not, Us made $250 million dollars on a $20 milllion dollar budget mostly because of HER performance and she got squat.

One role could have literally been played by any actress.

The other required skill.

But guess who got nominated? Let’s stop celebrating mediocrity.

 

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On Life

 

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On Experiencing The New

Gonna tell y’all what I can hear now that I got my hearing aids

Birds! They chirp and it’s so beautiful.

 

Far away cow moos

 

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My friend has this is his back yard and to say I cried is an understatement.

 

My best friends singing voice

 

Chickens: *chicken noise*

Me, sobbing:

The filter for my fish tank! Bubble bubble bubble

 

I sit in the bass section in band. Today I could clearly hear the flutes up at the front! They’re not great, but I can finally hear them!

 

The sound of walking in sand.

Soft but kinda crunchy? Very nice sound 10/10

 

Me playing guitar for the first time. Took the hearing aids out. Not a very good sound… yet

 

Tree leaves in the wind. I got a little spooked at first because it’s 1 am and I’m alone in the park but it’s a real good sound.

 

Bees

Let me say, it was really fucking terrifying walking past the flowering tree in my backyard and hearing zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz coming from it.

 

“sunlight” by Hozier

I sat in my car alone while listening to it. I knew it would be special but wow, that was a religious experience.

 

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Their hooves make sounds in the grass but they are completely silent. Beautiful creatures. Beautiful sound

 

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Pine needles and pine cones make crunchy sounds!!! Oh my! Very nice

 

Colored pencils make a real nice scratch noise when I’m drawing. I didn’t know they did that

 

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On White Culture

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On The White Savior Trope 

 

 

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On Gay Sarcasm 

Image result for gay men

fellas is it gay to be gay

 

according to historians? no

 

Ugh, why can’t you just let friends be friends? Like where does all the friendphobia stop, I just wanna know. So sick of the societal pressure to bone a bro just cuz he’s sitting less than five feet away from you in the hot tub.

I mean for real, what I wouldn’t give to live in a time like Alexander the Great. When two fellas could just have such a deep and abiding bond of friendship – like, just pure platonic beefcake buddies with No Homo additives, not a single one, not even a vibe – that the King Bro almost bankrupt his kingdom throwing his best bud the funeral to end all funerals. And he owed to never take another bro, so long as he lived.

Like, that’s the dream. Just two dudes being dudes and doing dude things together. Just the two of them. No group hangs. Table for two only.

Both on Earth and in the afterlife, forever after.

Together.

Eternally.

*A moment of silence for the bro-ships of the days of yore, when polishing another dude’s staff of manliness after battle was just like, what a good friend does. Out of respect for his, y’know, battle prowess. And masculinity. And like. His muscles and stuff.*

….But then you guys had to go and make everything gay. Like wtf. That’s so gay, dudes.

 

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On Canada

petition to rename the usa ‘south canada’

 

what about alaska

are we then normal canada

 

canada a bit to the left

 

moniker-padacklyte 

What about South America? Is that just America? Or South South Canada?

winchesterwolves 
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From: Lkeke35

On Villains and Fans

This was my hot take on the discussion of fandom sympathizing and excusing pop media villains. I wondered if some of the reason some fans do that is because they identify with the villain, but villains are bad, and associated that villainy with themselves. If that is the case I wanted to reassure them that liking a villain in a movie doesn’t necessarily say anything, in particular, about your morals.

Image result for villains

Somebody needs to let them understand that not only is it okay to like problematic shit, as long as you own it, it’s okay to like the villains. It doesn’t really say anything about you if you like a charismatic villain, but spinning up a bunch of bullshit philosophies about the villain because you feel ashamed to like them is the problem. And trying to cover up your racism (and sexism) by making up bullshit stories about the only PoC in the narrative is what’s our problem.

Nobody cares if you like Kylo, or Loki, but you DO NOT need to hate on the other characters to like them. You don’t need to make your liking of those characters sound like the most progressive thing one can do, by making up bullshit character traits for them that are not remotely evident in canon! We dislike the people who are showing their ass over liking a fictional character. That’s the problem.

I’ve liked plenty of villains over the years. I acknowledge the fact that they are charismatic villains, and I own that shit. That they are darkly seductive or whatever. I liked Darth Vader but I didn’t need to hate Lando Calrissian to do that. Hell I actually love Loki exactly for who he is, an emotionally messed up spirit of utter chaos, who is something of an asshole. I liked Hannibal from the tv series, but I didn’t need to hate Jack Crawford to do that! It says nothing about my character or morality that I find him enjoyable to watch, while condemning his actions. And it’s perfectly okay to like both the good guy and the bad guy simultaneously. Sometimes villains are created for the purpose of inducing such feelings in the audience. They’re handsome, or charismatic or sympathetic.

Plenty of black people loved and sympathized with Killmonger from the movie Black Panther. In fact that’s exactly why he was written the way he was written, to reflect certain thoughts and feelings of the audience, and we didn’t need to shit on T’challa to like him. I really wish these people would understand it’s okay to like the villain.

Unless, of course, your real goal is to express your racial resentment of other characters, and you’re using your love of the villain as a shield to do so…

 

On Getting Old and Tired

My hot take about not getting too excited to watch the latest movie, about Black people, showing how strong they are, by experiencing pain.

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I’ve been a comic book, sci-fi, and film geek my whole life. I just love good stories, but now I’ve reached the point where if I haven’t read (name some famous black author), it ain’t gonna happen. Not saying I have no need for inspiration, or that such writing isn’t useful, and you do what you have to do, but I’m out.

I’m just damn tired of reading about black pain and misery. I don’t care what the reason is for, or how uplifting someone else thinks it is. It’s a phase I went through when I was younger, but I’m over it, now.

The only thing I wanna read about, and even watch now, is Black  bravery, courage, and joy. Now that I’ve had access to those kind of  stories, I’m spoiled. I want black love, black heroes, and black fantasies. I wanna see us in the future living our best lives. I wanna see us in alternate worlds bringing that black joy. I wanna see us defeating monsters, rescuing Excalibur, and flying rocket ships. I had so little of this growing up, I’m starving for it now.

I’m running up on fifty years old now, and that’s long enough to have traveled painful roads. And I’m really fucking tired. This world makes me shed enough tears. I don’t want tears in my fiction too.

 

On Cash Grabs and Disney

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I’m just saying, it looks really, really, suspicious when the argument about Disney doing nothing but a cash grab only seems to pop up ,from certain corners of the internet, whenever they announce some form of diversity in their latest movies.

To be absolutely fair, there are people who have been making that argument since the beginning of the MCU phase, and I don’t begrudge them their opinion, because yeah, it’s a fucking cash grab. But my counter argument to that is nobody who goes to see these movies gives a flying fuck about how they get representation. They only care that they are getting some representation in some manner. And yeah, it’s a cash grab, because Hollywood is a fucking bizness, which only now, after a hundred years, is starting to realize which side of the bread their butter is on, and the butter is on the side with diversity (and possibly China!) Yeah, PoC are all well aware of Disney’s racist past! You ain’t whitesplaining anything PoC don’t already know. What we have decided is we don’t give a fuck if we get a Black Ariel, a new Blade movie, or the next Black Panther, cuz it’s what we been fucking asking for the past twenty years!

This argument however, doesn’t ever seem to make its way across my dash when Disney announces its latest iteration of “Chris-Somebody Blows Shit Up Real Good!” But as soon as Disney announces that anybody black, or female, or gay, is working in one of their movies, then suddenly people wanna complain about a business trying to maximize its business! What the fuck they suppose to do, appeal to the smallest possible fragment of the American public and go out of business?

 

Generic White Fandom

My hot take on racial issues in pop culture:

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What I’ve observed, is that it’s not white gay men writing any of these characters. I’ve read erotica written by gay men and it is very distinct from fiction written by women. The primary writers of these all these characters are straight white women, (there, I’ve said it!)and there have long been conversations in the lgbtq community about straight women fetishizing white gay men in shipping! None of these fandoms, and we are speaking in the aggregate here, are even half as progressive as they want us to believe and like to hide their toxicity behind a faux-reverence for progressivism! In fact, it’s gotten to the point where I am automatically suspicious of any meta written by white women as I feel certain it will be their ex use to express their resentment of female characters who don’t look like them and any characters of color.

Absolute Fan wanking has finally hit the big f*cking time!

Another one of my biggest pet peeves, however, is the utter sameness of the characters being written, as the poster above says. It’s like these women, whose only knowledge of how men are actually like, comes from reading other stories exactly like the ones they write themselves, or the heteronormative relationships they are in, which they then pretend to sneer at in the source material, and only know three or four templates from which to cull their character’s traits, and they use these traits regardless of what any of these characters are like in canon.

On the other hand, I do like to try to give peope an out. And it’s this: White audiences have no f*cking idea what to do with characters of color. Since they’ve only ever been socialized by a racist pop cultural paradigm which centers white men, they can only ever villainize, or sideline, or make servile, characters of color, since those are the ONLY examples they’ve ever been given, and let’s face it, these people aren’t as imaginative as they like to think they are. Doing nothing more than reproducing the same dynamic that one has seen in decades of the source material, which sidelined characters of color, is not progressive or imaginative at all. And they really have no real examples to work from, either, Especially if their tastes in source material, are as white-centered, and/or truncated, as their ability to write fiction. Writing and thinking in a non-racist, non-sexist manner, requires active thought, and participation, and not simply the use of popular buzzwords!

Now put all that together with racial resentment, misogynoir, misogyny, homo- and transphobia, and their complete and utter inability to acknowledge their own personal insecurities, and you end up with thousands of white women writing a delusional toxic stew of all evil darkies, conniving and/or dumb white women, sassy and servile black women, and white gay men with as much character range as blocks of wood.

Horror Comes To The ‘Burbs: Part I of the Starring the Landscape series

Hi everyone,

My newest post is now available on Medium.com. Head over there, give it read, and some applause!

You don’t need to have a membership to read the story, but it helps, because there’s a lot more interesting writers on the site, and they would love some applause, too. A membership is only about 5.00 a month, but like I said, you don’t need to have one as Medium will allow you to read a limited number of stories of your choosing.

Visit:

Horror Comes to the ‘Burbs, by Lakitha Tolbert.

…And Then It Imploded!

All four of these huge racial implosions happened in the space of a year:

 

Star Wars

This one started in December, just after the release of the last film in the Skywalker trilogy.

In the latest news on racism, we have John Boyega, now that he is free of Disney, which means he is also free of any promotional obligations to them, is lowkey stating what every Black person has felt about the Star Wars fandom, since he first encountered its most toxic members nearly six years ago: F*ck you arseholes!

For the past two weeks he has been trending on Twitter and certain members of the fandom are mad as hell! Here’s an overall  assessment of the situation from Youtube’s Clownfish TV.

This entire thing is so long and convoluted that I cannot possibly go into everything wrong with this fandom. So here’s some links, most of which are all kinds of fun as John speaks in his own words, on his own terms, and let’s  toxic fans have it.

I have long observed that you do not come for British actors and comedians on social media. They are a class of entertainer who have absolutely zero f*cks to give as regards American’s delicate feelings, and tolerate no nonsense from us. Yes, it is primarily Americans who are acting a damn fool about all of this. Americans are so used to throwing their weight around in other countries, that I’m not surprised we try the same shit on social media, and then act surprised when people from other countries push back.

https://www.cinemablend.com/news/2486615/john-boyega-get-candid-about-stupid-star-wars-fan-conflicts

https://www.cbr.com/star-wars-john-boyega-toxic-fandom/

Incidentally, both Kelly Marie Tran, and Oscar Isaac, both pulled a Mark Hamill, and have made it clear they are through with this particular  Disney franchise, and were dissatisfied with how their characters were mistreated in the story. This entire thing must have been especially trying for Kelly Marie, who started out in the franchise as a sweet and bubbly newby, who was excited by her new role, was having a lot of fun, and looking forward to an illustrious career, and look what the so called “fans”  did to her.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-persecution-of-kelly-marie-tran-how-star-wars-fandom-became-overrun-by-alt-right-trolls

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/star-wars-actress-kelly-marie-tran-reveals-how-she-coped-with-internet-trolls-after-casting-201413884.html

Tran, Boyega, and Ridley have endured years of trolling and bullying from a virulently toxic fandom. (Daisy, less so since, as she isn’t on social media.)

 

American Gods

This happened in the fall of last year:

In October and November of last year, one of my favorite actors, Orlando Jones, found out he’s been fired from the cast of American Gods. where he played Anansi, and African Trickster god. Here’s the timeline of the event from Orlando’s viewpoint. According to Orlando, it’s a complete, racist,  wtf*ery…

Image result for orlando jones

Here are Jones’ comments on his departure from American Gods.

September tenth, 2018, I was fired from American Gods. There will be no more Mr. Nancy. Don’t let these motherfuckers tell you they love Mr. Nancy—they don’t. I’m not going to name names, but the new season three showrunner is Connecticut-born and Yale-educated, so he’s very smart. And he thinks that Mr. Nancy’s angry get-shit-done is the wrong message for black America. That’s right, this white man sits in that decision-making chair, and I’m sure he has many black BFFs who are his advisors, and made it clear to him that if they did not get rid of that angry god Mr. Nancy, he’d start a Denmark Vesey uprising in this country. I mean, what else could it be?

To the wonderful Neil Gaiman, thank you for allowing me to play this role, for writing this wonderful book, for opening the door for me to become a writer/producer on season two of American Gods, thank you, sir. To the magnificent Bryan Fuller and the incredible Michael Green, thank you for creating this series and for allowing me also to become Mr. Nancy. I hope the fans enjoyed it, because really this is about you. I hope you loved it as much as I loved doing it, and, you know, we’ll see each other again real…

https://slate.com/culture/2019/12/orlando-jones-fired-american-gods-mr-nancy-charles-eglee-starz-gaiman.html

I have no plans at this time to watch the third season. The showrunner for hte first season was Bryan Fuller who is an exemplary showrunner, and out gay man, and has no problems with writing complex, and sometimes, controversial shows. The second season saw new showrunners, and while the season wasn’t a bad season, the drop in cohesion and quality was noticeable. I expect it to drop even further wit hthe ousting of Orlando, and a writer’s room that doesn’t want to be bothered writing its Black characters.

That some of it held together at all, is apparently due to Orlando Jones stepping in to help write not just his own character, but many of the of the characters of color  on the show, as the writers couldn’t bring themselves to be bothered to do it, and for which he received no producer credit. They also did not announce his firing in a timely enough manner for him to audition for a new position in an another show.

Here’s what Orlando stated, in his interview with TVLine:

I showed up in Season 2 of American Gods, and they hadn’t written for my character at all. They certainly knew I was coming. That was literally the studio’s job. And they didn’t do that job. And I wasn’t the only person: They didn’t do it for all of the characters of color. So if you really care about these characters of color, then why don’t you write for them? So, I found myself in a very odd situation, because Neil Gaiman was the one who asked me to write a [character] Bible for Mr. Nancy [at the start of Season 2]. I didn’t jump into the writing process and throw my weight around. I was invited by Neil Gaiman. And when I wrote that character Bible and sent it to him, I got back a message I wasn’t expecting. As a fan of the human and, you know, as a writer myself, I was overjoyed. It was all caps the email, you know, “I F–KING LOVE IT. Spread it around.” …I spread around that character Bible. And I suddenly found myself writing, not just Mr. Nancy, but Ibis and Salim and the Jinn and Sam Black Crow and Shadow Moon and all of the characters of color who weren’t written.

Not only did the creators of the show fire Orlando Jones, but they also got rid of the Jinn and Salim, the only MENA actors in the series, and the only openly gay couple (which the show was too chickenshit to show last season), that I’ve ever seen on TV.

I don’t think the creators on these shows realize what a massive fanbase some actors of color have, and Orlando has a huge Black fanbase on Twitter, with whom he regularly interacts. They are incredibly loyal, and vocal about their love for him, and producers and creators of these shows do not understand how much we certain Black actors, They need to recognize that it is that fanbase that’s tuning in to watch these shows. Celebrities like Orlando, Viola Davis, and Gabrielle Union, have a huge cache of good will in our communities, and to dismiss or disregard it, is sheer stupidity.

What has happened since is that about half the main cast has vacated the show. Mr. World. The Jinn, Salim, and New Media.

 

******

What happened here is not that much different from what happened on Sleepy Hollow. A show that was based on a Black female character got new showrunners, who mistreated the lead actress, and decided to focus more of their writing on the White characters in the show to the point where the original lead actress was simply written out of her own show (and replaced by a lighter skinned actress, btw). Not because of anything she’d done, but because the writers either didn’t want to focus on her,  didn’t know what to do with her character, or were too lazy to write a woman of color.

I say let this new season of American Gods go the same way as Sleepy Hollow. its not a good look when a successful show keeps cycling through more and more mediocre (and cheaper) showrunners. I won’t be watching the new season, and believe we should ignore it until it goes off the air. Don’t talk about it, don’t tweet about it. Let the third season be its last.

https://wearyourvoicemag.com/entertainment-culture/the-sleepy-hollow-ing-of-american-gods

Last week, Jones went public on Twitter about being let go from American Gods, citing that Eglee did not think the “angry” message was the right one to send to Black America and that he would know since he writes from “a Black male perspective”. 

What we are witnessing, once again is “whitening” of a show. Every time Hollywood creates a show aimed at a Black audience, they consider that audience to be expendable once the show gets good ratings. They then try to reset the show to appeal to whiter audiences, instead, get rid of everything that drew us to the original story-line (watching characters of color in a fantastic setting), and  considerably “lighten” the characters each season thereafter.

The decline of American Gods and its once sharp-as-nails grasp of the concept of race in America mirrors such issues, with the departure of Mr. Nancy bringing the casting of Herizen Guardiola as Yoruba goddess Oshun back into question. Oshun, sans her appearance in Lemonade, has always been depicted as a beautiful, darkskinned goddess. And it takes a specific type of toffetry and caucasity to assume the opposite and also assume that there cannot be two darkskinned goddesses onscreen at the same time (re: Bilquis).

*****

Image result for gabrielle union agt timeline

But the producers of American Gods aren’t just in trouble for this issue. Fremantle Media, an Australian based company, that usually produces Reality TV shows, is being investigated for the firing of Gabrielle Union, a Black actress from America’s Got Talent.

https://www.kingofreads.com/a-complete-timeline-of-the-gabrielle-union-americas-got-talent-saga/

The Romance Writers of America

Most of this happened in December of last year, and continues to now:

Image result for romance writers

Last year, I published a link to an article on the lack of diversity n romantic fiction, and how women of color were fighting to be included:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/apr/04/fifty-shades-of-white-romance-novels-racism-ritas-rwa

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NOW:

The Romance Writers guild imploded earlier this month ,in a series of vents which has culminated in the mass exodus of at least a third of its members. Here’s a timeline of the events, as we understand them:

https://www.claireryanauthor.com/blog/2019/12/27/the-implosion-of-the-rwa

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a summary of my understanding of the situation

  • courtney milan is a chinese-american romance author and was the chair of the romance writers of america ethics committee
  • she wrote a twitter post where she called a book by kathryn lynn davis ‘a fucking racist mess’ (because it was)
  • davis and suzan tisdale file a complaint because How Dare She
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  • are you guys seeing this because oh my fucking god ARE YOU SEEING THIS
  • “it was the nineties and she did a lot of research into chinese people, you’re just racist against white people”
  • they kicked courtney off the board because of this
  • immediately people started resigning because that’s horseshit
  • so many people resigned
  • SO MANY
  • it turned out the people resigning were some of the only people keeping the absolute bugfuckery of the people in charge at bay
  • the decision was rescinded like “oh whoops our bad” but like?? too late????
  • all the dirty laundry is coming out on twitter
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  • there are petitions to get the president, president-elect, and executive director of rwa recalled because they’re clearly fuckups
  • either the rwa is going to need to go through some big changes, or a lot of authors (particularly queer authors and authors of color) are going to have to make their own org
  • the founder of rwa was a black woman so bigots taking over is especially fucking galling
  • courtney milan is also the reason we have dinosaur emojis
  • that’s not really relevant except who the fuck steps to the woman who got us dinosaur emojis

 

  • Courtney Milan is not only a great author and the person who gave us dinosaur emojis.
  • She is also a lawyer who clerked for Federal Judge Alex Kozinski.
  • In 2017 she spoke the WaPo and exposed Kozinski’s pattern of sexual harassment, also shedding light on how the clerking system’s confidentiality rules created an environment in which it was effectively impossible to make complaints about the judge one served under.
  • This is a massive clusterfuck from the ground up, but particularly because Milan is just about the worst possible person to fuck with in a situation like this.
  • The Board also took on the Case of the White Lady Publishers Who Don’t Like WoC Pointing Out Racism on Twitter, but has this same week refused to speak on Dreamspinner Press not paying authors.
  • So that’s a look at the priorities of what is *supposed to be* an authors’ advocacy professional org.

courtney milan managed to do a TON of good while she was on the board by taking neither prisoners nor shit, and being very vocal about calling out fuckery in the community, but now it’s looking like there were people within the rwa looking for excuses to get rid of her for exactly those reasons

hopefully they’ll be able to get the org back into good hands, because otherwise that’s a lot of resources that are going to go to waste (think: millions of dollars) while good people have to start over

 

******

*This entire timeline has resulted in the  canceling of their annual awards event.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/01/08/romance-writers-america-cancels-awards-program-writer-racism-controversy/

 

 

The Knitting Community

This began around this same time last year, and wound up in the Summer months:

Image result for knitting

Since this event began Ravelry has banned any form of support for Trump from its website. You can still be a conservative and discuss politics, you’re just not allowed to openly express any support for him, or his administration, on the site.

We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry.

This includes support in the form of forum posts, projects, patterns, profiles, and all other content. Note that your project data will never be deleted. We will never delete your Ravelry project data for any reason and if a project needs to be removed from the site, we will make sure that you have access to your data. Even if you are permanently banned from Ravelry, you will still be able to access any patterns that you purchased. Also, we will make sure that you receive a copy of your data.

We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.

The Community Guidelines have been updated with the following language: “Note that support of President Trump, his administration, or individual policies that harm marginalized groups, all constitute hate speech.”

Policy notes:

  • You can still participate if you do in fact support the administration, you just can’t talk about it here.
  • We are not endorsing the Democrats nor banning Republicans.
  • We are definitely not banning conservative politics. Hate groups and intolerance are different from other types of political positions.
  • We are not banning people for past support.
  • Do not try to weaponize this policy by entrapping people who do support the Trump administration into voicing their support.
  • Similarly, antagonizing conservative members for their unstated positions is not acceptable.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xwnp4a/the-real-reason-ravelrys-ban-on-white-supremacy-is-surprising

 

 

Hi! Have Some New Movie Trailers!

Hi! Here is a small list of movies that I’m interested in this year. Okay, partially interested in. Some of them I’m not exactly too keen on, but decided to add them here, in the interests of fake fairness.

 

*Quiet Place II 

I kinda like apocalypse movies, so I’m looking forward to this sequel. I may as well put it on my watch list for Summer, because I’m pretty sure my Mom (my movie buddy) is going to mess up my whole movie watching schedule for the Summer, by requesting to see Horror movies. A couple of times, I had to put my foot down and tell her that no we were not going to see the Annabelle movies!

I’m generally not real big on seeing Horror movies in the theater, because its easier to walk out on them when you’re at home, but I kinda know what type of scares to expect, having seen the first movie, so we will probably go see this one.

 

 

New Mutants

I started reading  the New Mutants during its first run waaay back in the 80s, and the primary story was about an Indigenous girl, named Danielle Moonstar, who was haunted by a  demonic bear. She had the ability to create realistic illusions in the minds of the people around her, and the bear had the ability to turn anyone it touched into a kind of demon minion.

I haven’t read that particular comic in decades, but I still vividly remember the images drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz (Sink-o-wits), who  became one of my all-time favorite comic book artists. I also thought the story was pretty scary too, so The New Mutants movie comes by its horror trappings very honestly.

The team consists of Illyana Rasputin, who is the sister of Colossus (from Deadpool) in the comic books. She is a kind of  half demon, who wields a soul sword. Rayne is a werewolf from Ireland. Sam is known as Cannonball, and is capable of flight, and Sunspot is ,well he’s complicated, and scary as f*ck, when you think about his powers. This trailer looks a lot more interesting than that first one we saw which really didn’t excite me very much. This new trailer makes the movie look as if it were worth paying money to see.

All that said, I’m not too keen on seeing this movie because of its overwhelming whiteness. Not a single one of these characters look anything like they have in the comic books for the past thirty years, and I just find that deeply annoying, along with not wanting to watch a bunch of teenagers, and their merely adequate acting skills. But hey, the trailer is cool.

 

 

 

John Henry

I’m really excited to see this one, (even though I still have issues about Black people constantly being associated with criminal activity in movies.) John Henry is one of those folk tales I heard when I was a little girl. I’m not clear if he was a real person or not, (I suspect he was), but he is basically an African American Folk Hero, like our version of Superman.

When Superman died in the comic books, back in the 90′, ,a bunch of different people tried to fill his shoes, and one of them was Steel, (who carries a giant hammer) who was based on John Henry.

Henry even has his own song, which I also learned as a kid. It’s basically a superhero story about a man who raced a steam drill, to tear a hole in a mountain. This was animated by Disney a few years ago, for the movie Legends. (This is not the original music for this short.)

 

This is the first live action version I’ve ever heard of, set in the modern day, and I cannot think of a better person to play this character than Terry Crews.

 

 

Tenet

Yes, yes, yes!!! I am very excited about this. i don’t know that I’ll get chance to see it in the theater, as I did The Dark Knight, but I am eagerly looking forward to Christopher Nolan’s latest thriller, which stars the son of Denzel Washington. Look for the little “time loops” in the trailer! There are several.

Tenet, described as “an action epic evolving from the world of international espionage,” seems to exist in the same complex cinematic conversation as Inception (if not the same universe) — in terms of how it dabbles in both the sci-fi and spy genre, and in regard to its futuristic-yet-grounded world filled with futuristic-yet-grounded technology.

The sequence centers around a terror crisis, and both the law enforcement members and a group of spies who respond to it, with seemingly different motivations. This plays into the specifics of the film’s spy world, as John David Washington’s character even sounds as though he’s speaking in code at one point.

It also contains a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment that seemingly showcases the film’s time-warping technology in action, which helps to communicate the sci-fi twist. After the sequence wraps up, the prologue dives into a trailer-like montage, which contains the reversed car flip from the online trailer.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/tenet-imax-prologue-shows-a-time-bending-mission-1264421

https://youtu.be/-BplPeKclvw

 

 

 

Black Widow

Some movies, I’m instantly excited about, whether or not I see a trailer. Black Widow was not one of those movies. I heard they were gonna make it, and my mood was pretty, “Meh, I’m over her.”(It does not help matters that  Scarlett Johannson insists on walking around with her foot firmly planted in her mouth, and its hard to act that way.)

But most people don’t know about her social media gaffes, and, this trailer actually looks like a helluva lot of fun, and this trailer does make me want to see it. A little dose of humor goes a long way with me, because that first trailer was horrible. This one is a lot better, so I predict this is gonna be pretty big, and more than enough to tide people over, until Wonder Woman is released (another movie I don’t particularly care to see, not because I hate the movie, but because I just can’t dredge up enough energy to care about it.)

I really only have one question: When are they gonna make that Kamala Khan movie?

 

 

Free Guy

I like Ryan Reynolds and this just looks like goofy fun. I will not be seeing this in the theater however, because i generally avoid films that involved video games, and while Ryan and his wife have great onscreen presences, their personal life decisions are for shit. I really need to stop reading anything about celebrities. A lot of them suck as people.

 

 

Bloodshot

I probably will not see this in the theater, although I am a fan of the comic books, which it seems there’s like a thousand of them. The action scenes look cool as f*ck though, (I’m cussing, so you know I’m excited about this!), and despite Vin Diesel’s questionable acting skills, and the mediocre plot of having his wife get fridged as a motivator for vengeance, I kinda want to see this. I’ve been spoiled by some really good, smart action films for the past ten years, and while this looks like it has a nice mental twist, it doesn’t look as if it will captivate me, in a theater, for two hours. We’ll see!

 

 

 

The King’s Man

I like this one but probably won’t see this in the theater because I wont be able to get anyone else interested in going to see it with me. Now this movie is a prequel to The Kingsman franchise, is set in a different time period, and boasts a much weightier cast. I don’t know. This movie is giving me Indiana Jones feels, and that’s a good thing, since I like those movies.

 

Honorable Mentions

*Birds of Prey – A Harley Quinn movies, which looks interesting.

Mulan – A live action movie based on the original Chinese story of a young woman who disguises herself as a man to take her father’s place in the military.

*The Lovebirds – This one stars Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani, whose good-natured humor has built them a large fan base, so I expect this movie to do well.

*Candyman – A remake of the original 90s movie by Jordan peel, and featuring cameos from the original cast.

*Morbius – I like a good vampire movie, and this is from the same people who made Venom, which I also liked. Morbius is part of the Spiderman universe, and is one of his deadliest villains. He basically eats spider-people. I would have preferred an animated version of this in the style of Into the Spiderverse, but we got Jared Leto instead. Whaddya gonna do?

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard – I just really like this stupid title.

Last Night in Soho – I got two words for ya’. Edgar Wright!

*Snakeeyes – This is one of my favorite characters from the G I Joe universe, so I’m looking forward to seeing this. I guess its gonna be an action movie year.

*Halloween Kills – I was one of the few people who seemed to actually enjoy the previous Halloween movie, so I guess I’ll be sitting all alone in the theater, for this sequel.

Eternals – I don’t know what to think about this yet. Its part of the newest phase of the MCU universe. I’m withholding my opinion until i see a trailer.

*Dune – I  like this director, Denis Villenueve, and liked his interpretation of Bladerunner, so I’m looking forward to his version of Dune. I’ve read Dune every couple of years, or so, and I actually enjoy the original film, despite its inaccuracies.

One drawback though is that he doesn’t feature any Black people in his movies that either aren’t criminals, or getting horribly killed. I looked at the casting for this movie, and there is only one Black man in the entire cast (on what is supposedly a desert planet where everyone appears to be lily-White). He plays the character of Jamis, one of the first people killed by Paul when he joins the Fremen. Even though the Fremen are canonically based on Middle eastern tribes, there’s not one MENA person in the cast. Zendaya is in the cast, and I like her a lot, but she is light-skinned, so she is one of those people a director casts, when they want someone of ambiguous ancestry.

I’m starting to give Villenueve a heavy side-eye on his depictions of characters of color. I’m not saying Villenueve is a racist. What I’m saying is that like a lot of White directors,he has never thought about race at all, and so continues to reproduce the same tired, worn, stereotypes of Black and Brown criminals, who need to be punished in the story.

Hannibal Season Three: Dolce

I know its been a while since I posted a Hannibal review. I promise I’m not neglecting what I’d said I’d do with this show, which was do in depth reviews of all three seasons, which are currently available to stream on Amazon Prime. Here’s my review of Dolce, which is episode six of season three.

In the sixth episode of this season, we see the long awaited reunion between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham, and naturally, by the end of the episode, the two of them try to kill each other, because that’s just  how  they are.

Jack Crawford and Will Graham meet at Pazzi’s gruesome murder scene for the first time since last season. It turns out that this was always the plan between the two of them. We had been led to believe that Will had simply run off to be with Hannibal, but it turns out, that Will went to Europe to find him, while Jack could follow later, and by a different route, so that the two of them would not appear to be in tandem. At their meeting, Will asks Jack why he didn’t kill Hannibal, and Jack says he was saving him for Will.

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Throughout this entire series, Will has been a hound caught between two masters. Earlier in season one, Hannibal referred to Will as Jack Crawford’s  hound, and this is an apt description, because Will has the instincts of one, Lecter and Jack sent him out to do their bidding, and often fought over their possession of him. At one point Jack just comes right out and asks if Will is his man, or is he Hannibal’s, and Will had to think about that for a minute, as he neatly sidestepped that question.

When viewed from one angle, Will’s actions make no sense, but if you take into account that Jack Crawford and Hannibal represent opposing sides of who he is, and what he wants: stability, justice, and order, or mayhem, lawlessness, and the freedom to do what he will, then it is understandable why Will is torn. If Lecter is coded as a satanic figure, then Jack is God, or at least Will’s better angel, (in fact, Jack says as much to Lecter, in a later episode), and naturally, Lecter exists in opposition to all that Jack represents. Does Will want to serve, or be served? Hannibal’s power, and ability to flout authority, is intoxicating to a part of Will’s personality, and he seems to constantly be at war, not just with Hannibal, but that part of himself.

Hannibal is severely injured after his fight with Jack Crawford, and limps his way back to his quarters, where Bedelia has already crafted an excuse for her dalliance with him in Rome. She tells him she is preparing for his eventual capture, and wonders if he is drawing his enemies to him. If he, in fact, wants to be caught. One of the biggest movie tropes about serial killers is that they secretly want to be caught, because if they don’t, how can they have their egos fed by becoming famous? How can they be known if no one knows who they are?

 

In the movie Seven, the killer turns himself in to the police at the end of the movie, for this exact reason. How are people to know his grand plan and admire it, if he doesn’t get caught. There is a real life basis for this common movie trope. For example,  mass killers often leave manifestos for why they kill, because they want to be known and admired, and on occasion a serial killer has tried to insinuate themselves  into their own investigation, by contacting the detectives involved, as in the Son of Sam investigation. But largely, the idea that serial killers want to be caught, is a myth.

Gillian Anderson is excellent this episode as Bedelia. Her performance is just one of the highlights. Up to now, she has appeared to be Hannibal’s prisoner, she is with him because of the constant underlying threat that he will kill her. In a sense she is keeping her enemy close to her, because its better for her to know exactly where he is than to be free, and not know where he is, or what he’s doing, which is an issue that will come into play later in the season, between Will and Hannibal.

But Bedelia is going to need to explain to the authorities why she stayed with him, She comes up with the excuse that she was out of her mind, with the same drug cocktail Hannibal used to subdue Miriam Lass, (in season 2), so she genuinely believed herself to be Lydia Fell, the wife of the man Hannibal is impersonating, Norman Fell. Hannibal admires her cleverness, and the two of them agree to support each other’s stories.

When Hannibal leaves, Bedelia shoots up her special cocktail, and is found first by Chiyo. Bedelia seems to be one of those people who develops a semi-adversarial relationship, with everyone she meets, and Chiyoh is no exception. Probably because Bedelia is one of those characters that seemingly every TV show must have, that person who speaks uncomfortable truths to the other characters.

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Then Will and Jack encounter Bedelia, in Hannibal’s apartments, and she already has her answers ready. Jack and Will are not buying any of her story, but I can’t tell if the police inspector does. There’s definitely some kind of “frission”, or attraction, going on between the two of them. One of the more amusing scenes is watching Bedelia’s interaction with  Jack and Will. Gillian Anderson, always brings her A game to every project, she looks like she’s having a helluva lot of fun, and that entire scene is hilarious to watch, as Bedelia drunkenly slurs her way through the initial interview, and its one of the few scenes of genuine humor, in the series.

Hannibal doesn’t leave Rome. Instead he makes his way to the Uffizzi Gallery, to view Boticelli’s Primavera, which I talked about in my review of the second episode of the season, titled Primavera. For some reason he is obsessed with this panting. He had a arranged one of his murders to resemble the painting, many years ago, before he left Italy. Here we see him drawing another representation of the painting but replacing the faces of the angel, Zephpyrus, and the nymph Chloris, with the faces of Will Graham, and Bedelia, his two closest “associates”.

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Will’s unexpected presence is a source of unmitigated happiness to Hannibal, and he almost loses his chill, telling Will, in a somewhat poetic manner, how much he missed him, and how overjoyed he is to see him again, (for Hannibal, this is practically gushing), even though he had the chance to see him when the two of them were running around in the catacombs, in an earlier episode, but admittedly that was before Will, supposedly,  forgave him. The two of them leave the Gallery together, and Will, feeling some type of way again, pulls out a knife and tries to stab Hannibal. I’m unsure if he was trying to incapacitate him, to capture him, or if the stabbing was revenge for Hannibal stabbing him last season, or just general assholery on Will’s part. Chiyo, sitting on a nearby roof, shoots Will through the shoulder. Since she only kills under the most dire of circumstances, as she did in Lithuania, she would not have killed Will, but she would not allow him to harm Hannibal, either.

Hannibal is, naturally, completely unperturbed by Will trying to kill him, because what’s a little homicide among friends?. He takes Will back to some rented rooms, and minsters to his woulds, before deciding (and I don’t know if this is revenge for Will trying to kill him, or general asssholery on his part), to eat Will’s brain. Notice how he takes the opportunity ,while dressing Will’s wounds, to give him a warm hug, since Will is in far too much pain to fight back, or try to stab him again.

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Now, let’s be clear here, Hannibal does love Will, but he still wants to eat him.  He wants to be with Will, but Will is still dangerous to him. One of the many philosophies behind human cannibalism (outside of desperation) is the idea that eating someone is a way of keeping that person close, so that they can never leave. This was the motivation behind the serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer. Either that, or he believes he will gain Will’s power and energy through consumption. Normally Hannibal’s reasons for eating others is because he has nothing but contempt for them, so treats them like food.

In the meantime, the police have allowed Jack Crawford to leave, urging him to go back to America, which, of course, Jack doesn’t do. How he manages to find Will and Hannibal is carefully not mentioned, but in a funny moment he encounters Chiyo in the elevator of Hannibal’s building. She either knows who he is, or senses he is a cop, or is just generally cagey, but she manages to avoid his, too close,  attention, although they each sneak suspicious glances at the other.

This entire time we keep switching back and forth between Italy and America where Mason, Alana, and Margot, have been plotting to capture Hannibal, so that Mason can cook and eat him. Alana’s and Margot’s relationship is revealed in this episode, along with Mason’s plans to have a Verger baby with his sister, to be carried by Alana.

We’ll talk more about that particular trio in the next post.

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Jack makes his way to Hannibal’s rented apartments, (I’m unclear how he found them, but he was following Will, at the time). Jack gets there, not just in time to watch Hannibal begin his meal of Will Graham, but to be ambushed by Hannibal,  taken prisoner, and made to watch the ordeal, which he vehemently protests, to no avail. Will’s face gets attacked a to this season, for some reason. I think somewhere in there is a statement about the actors prettiness. He is  more attractive than previous actors who played Will Graham, who looked a little more  like Will’s  working class roots.

Hannibal’s feast is interrupted by the Florentine police, who found the apartment by following Jack, in the hope that Jack (and Will) would lead them to Hannibal, having been suspicious of Jack’s motivations, for visiting their city, right from the beginning. They are still in the employ of Mason Verger actually, and they kidnap Will and Hannibal, and send them to the Verger’s Muskrat Farm, for the reward money. They attempt to kill Jack, but Chiyoh, hiding out on a nearby rooftop, assassinates them. Jack is freed by Chiyoh, after arguing that he just wants to go home, and in exchange for telling her where Will and Lecter were taken.Can I just add that Chiyoh is a total bad ass who is not to be trifled with, and that she really should have just had her own show?

Will and Lecter are taken to Muskrat Farm, and trussed like prized birds, while Mason gloats over his victory.

One of the things we haven’t talked about much in the series is the subject of Classism. Particularly the class differences between Will and Hannibal, and Hannibal and everyone else. Its especially important considering Hannibal’s philosophy about  the people he kills, and his attitude towards Will. One of Hannibal’s guiding philosophies is to “Eat the Rude.” so we get lots of instances where Hannibal kills and consumes people he believes were disrespectful to him. And not just to him, he kills and eats one of Abigail Hobbes friends, after seeing her be rude to her own mother.

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I am a firm believer that at least part of Hannibal’s motivations for killing and consuming his victims is because of class prejudice. Hannibal’s family was once Lithuanian nobility, and while it may not be a major factor, I certainly think it  informs his feeling of entitlement to respect. he doesn’t feel he needs to earn respect. He thinks he should be given respect by dint of having been born, and all beings should recognize his inherent superiority. When looked at from this standpoint, it is unsurprising that Hannibal would kill (and even eat) those he considered less than, because that is entirely in keeping, with the proletariat philosophy, that the wealthy are parasites, who prey on society.

Next episode however, the tables have been turned, as Hannibal is the one about to be eaten. Mason Verger has Hannibal exactly where he wants him, to exact his revenge for what Hannibal did to him, over a year ago. Unfortunately he has captured Will as well, and we’ll find out just how far Hannibal is willing to go to save them both from an ironic fate.

 

100th Anniversary: Red Summer of 1919.

Interestingly, the Red Summer of 1919 happened to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the arrival of the first slave ships, from West Africa, to America. This has been chronicled in this year’s 1619 Project.
(There is also a PDF version for those who do not wish to subscribe to the NY Times.)
Two days after Thanksgiving this was posted on Twitter, by historian David Neiwert, in reference to the first episode of the Watchmen television series.  This is pretty long for a series of tweets, but the entire post has been collected at Tweet Threads.
Black people were not the only ones to suffer through this kind of behavior from Whites, Native Americans did as well. And yes, I still maintain that these were not riots.
This was ethnic cleansing!
This is what is meant when we discuss White people’s nostalgia for the past, or what Maga Hat wearing ignoramuses talk about when saying Make America Great Again. This is also what is meant by anyone you hear talking about starting a race war. They don’t want a war, because in a war they would have skin in the game, and be  as susceptible to being killed as their victims. What they want, is  the freedom to  massacre Black people again, without any consequences. We must face the idea that there are  sections of White America who are gleefully, and cheerfully bloodthirsty, when it comes to the destruction of Black lives, and they always have been.
Racial terrorism and expulsion, by Whites,  is at least one of the  explanations for why Blacks migrated out of rural areas, and primarily live in cities, today. My own family (grandmother) left the rural south, in the 1950’s, to live in the Northeast. Not that these so-called “race riots” didn’t occur in large cities, they were just less likely.
Pay close attention to the actions of law enforcement, in this thread, as well. In some cases, not only did the police do nothing to prevent the violence, but in many cases, they actually aided and abetted the attackers. What is surprising are the times law enforcement  sought to protect their charges, from White mobs, and spirit them to safety. Pay attention to the  White women who  took advantage of these situations, to express their racial resentment, or get out of trouble themselves, by accusing black men of disrespecting them, or some other specious crime, knowing those men would be killed. White women have never been innocent of participation in anti-Black violence.
 Black people didn’t take this sitting down, (which is why I take offense at statements like “We are not our grandparents.). Blacks organized and fought back, using not just guns, but popular opinion, via the use of media.
This is why representation is so important. Damon Lindhelof had an incredible platform from which he could showcase this country’s history, and took full advantage of that, thereby continuing a dialogue that was introduced  by Ta’nehisi Coates, in his landmark article: The Case For Reparations.

* It was really hard to finish this thread, as it’s incredibly graphic, harrowing, terrifying, and infuriating. And since I know something about this topic, I know it still doesn’t completely cover some of the other, even worse, atrocities committed against Black bodies, during lynching. (Some people kept souvenirs of certain  body parts.)

 

In many cases this form of terrorism, for that is indeed what it was, lasted for several days, and consisted of thousands of Whites, and the  summary expulsion of the Black population, in that area.

 

I appreciated the fact that Neiwert sugarcoats none of it.

(Warning: This thread contains graphic images of human suffering.)

Nov 27th 2019, (152 tweets, 59 min read)

1) This year, 2019, marks an important centennial anniversary in America—but it is one that not only are we not celebrating, it’s also a significant moment most of us aren’t even aware of: the 100th anniversary of the Red Summer of 1919.

 

2) Warning: This is an extremely long 150-tweet thread. It contains some violent images involving lynching, generally held to a minimum. The text is horrifying. It’s a history lesson—and not one for the faint of heart. You can decide if the subject warrants the unusual length.
3) There are reasons we do not commemorate the events of those months. Nearly all of them have to do with the deep shame that lingers for one of the darkest, most violent moments in American history—not to mention the monstrousness it reveals.
4) Yet the truth is that the summer of 1919 was one of the most momentous in our history, and NEEDS to be remembered, because it forever and irrevocably altered the face of the American landscape, shaping our demographics in ways that remain with us today.
5) The American public recently received a little taste of this deliberately hidden corner of history when the debut episode of the new HBO series Watchmen opened with a flashback to a child’s-eye view of the Tulsa race riot of 1921.

Read the rest here:

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1199779549803794432.html

Highlights:
9) These events were in many ways the fevered culmination of the long campaign after the Civil War to reverse its outcome by putting the now-freed slaves into a continued state of submission by other means—violent ones.
11) Between 1870 and 1930, literally thousands of black people were summarily executed by their white neighbors, most often for the crime of being somehow “uppity”—that is, a threat to their own social status in one way or another.
17) Later studies have found that actual black criminality was only occasionally the actual cause of lynchings. Far more often, black people were lynched for being _too_ successful by white standards. Economic jealousy fueled many a lynching. 
19)…And it is history that most white people are utterly, blithely, happily ignorant about. That has to end. 
35) Eventually, the presence of a violent, rampaging mob meant that not only did the singular lynchings grow into multiple-lynching events, they also turned into burning, pillaging, and mass murder. The euphemism “race riots” hid the reality: these were ethnic-cleansing events.
40) Black vets, especially in ’18, were a direct challenge to the tenets of white supremacy that held that only white men were capable of higher thought and bravery and capability. So they were targeted for lynching with a particular urgency and venom.
98) The events of Red Summer are important to remember in part because they are representative of the kind of horror that lies within the history of being black in America, a horror most white Americans little understand or appreciate, reinforced by their often willful ignorance. 
99) However, these events all were noteworthy in another important regard: They represented the first time that black communities organized and resisted this violence, with varying degrees of success. But the pushback was just beginning, and eventually turned the tide.
128) The mechanics of how this happened can be observed by looking at what happened to America demographically due to these “race riots.” Essentially, black Americans were driven out of rural America and forced into racially and economically segregated urban neighborhoods. 
129) Loewen’s _Sundown Towns_ is an essential text for understanding how this occurred. As he noted in describing the contagious effects of mob violence, the end result of most of this ethnic cleansing was to make whole swaths of America uniformly white.
139) Black people, quite understandably, want to look away from this because it’s a painful reminder of everything bad about America in their lives. White people, on the other hand, use the ensuing silence as their own excuse to look away too. Deliberate ignorance is the result. 
140) That ignorance is what prompts so many whites to react defensively to the simple plea contained in the slogan Black Lives Matter. No, you twits, they’re not saying _only_ black lives matter. They’re saying _black lives don’t matter to white people, and they need to._ 
145) After all, it should be obvious that black people have a multitude of reasons to believe that their lives do not matter to white people, from the depths of history to the modern record of easy police disposal of their lives.
And Finally:
146) Knowing the history of Red Summer—especially for white folks—ultimately isn’t about self-flagellation, white guilt, or political correctness. It’s about reality and truth and coming to terms with our own history.

The Irishman (Netflix)

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*****Here Be Spoilers****

 

Let’s  get something out of the way first.

Yes, I’m aware of what Scorsese has said about the current crop of superhero movies, and yes, I was offended, until he clarified his statements in a recent Vanity Fair article. I’m glad he did, because I was prepared to stay mad at one of my all-time, favorite directors. Well, I’m not as angry, but he is not wrong. He’s not right though, mostly because I don’t think its fair to compare the two types of movies. They serve very different purposes for their audiences in that one type of film consists of exciting power fantasies (like the first half of the movie Goodfellas), and righting wrongs, and Scorsese’s films seem to be about the consequences of that amount of unchecked power,  and what it actually gets you. Superhero movies make no claims of depth.  They are not dramas, although movies like The Dark Knight, The Winter Soldier, and Logan come very close.

The Irishman had a brief theatrical run, of about a week or two, before it settled on Netflix, which is where I viewed it, with a great deal of anticipation. There’s a lot of backstory about why the movie is airing on Netflix, but I’m not covering that here. Like a lot of people, I went into this expecting something similar to Goodfellas, and Casino, since Scorsese seems to have some sort of lock on the depiction of  White men in the mafia life. The movie is definitely about gangsters, and appears to be having some kind of dialogue with the other two films. It would be interesting to watch all three of these movies back to back, to see what they are saying to, and about, each other.

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I loved this movie, and I wasn’t expecting that. Everyone involved is at the top of their game. I didn’t think Scorsese had a lot more to say about the mafia life, that he hadn’t already said, but he does.

Like the other two films in this trilogy, it’s a meditation on crime and regret. I think a lot of people have had a  very wrong takeaway from Scorsese’s movies. Although he seems both fascinated with , and terrified of, this lifestyle, he definitely does not approve. These are the kinds of people he knew growing up, and he seemed to have kept, in the forefront of his mind, that they were not good people, no matter what their claims of nobility, or  how fascinating their lives were.

These films are not a glorification of their lifestyle.  Henry Hill, in the last third of Goodfellas, just flat out states this. Scorsese has never sugarcoated who and what these people are. The violence in these films is always  sudden, and brutal.  Hill spoke on the topic in Goodfellas, but here its just shown. Scorsese always  has  his characters realize, by the end, the horror of the decisions they’ve made. Every participant ends up  dead, or regretful, and there is a an onscreen commentary, on the fate of each one of the character’s introduced, in the film. The bottom line is, if you choose the mobster life, because you have romanticized notions about it, it will end badly.

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I knew a young Italian man, in college, who told me that his father met some people in the life, but he also told me that one of the key things is never to invite them into your life. Don’t ask them for favors, don’t hang out with them in their places, don’t befriend them. They’re like vampires. You have to let them in.

A classic example, is the restaurant owner from Goodfellas, who allows Tommy, and his friends, to frequent his restaurant. Just like Henry did as a child, he thinks its exciting to be associated with these men. He admires the life, and believes he is friends with them, until the time comes for Tommy to pay the massive bill he’s run up on his tab. These guys are just taking advantage of him, but he is still too enamored of their life to see that. In an effort to get Tommy to pay his bill, the restaurant owner goes to Paulie, (Tommy’s boss), and makes Paulie a partner, in exchange for taking care of Tommy’s bill. Paulie takes advantage of him too, until he  goes out of business, as they steal  him blind, eventually the restaurant gets burned down for the insurance. The owner romanticized their lifestyle. He failed to see them as the unprincipled thieves they were. He invited them in, and he lost everything. The same thing goes for the character of Spider, a mirror of the young Henry, who romanticizes their lifestyle, and gets killed by Tommy, for standing up for himself, with not a single tear shed by any of the witnesses.

The Irishman  follows another low grade member of a mafia crew, a hitman named Frank Sheeran, (Robert DeNiro), as he befriends various mobsters, and paints houses (carries out mob hits). Most of the movie is about his friendship with Jimmy Hoffa, (Al Pacino), and his confession that he killed him, after being assigned to do so by his then bosses, one of which is also a close friend, Russell Bufalino, played by Joe Pesci. The movie is based on a book by Charles Brandt titled “I Heard You Paint Houses?”, which is the line in the movie said by Pacino, when he and Frank first meet over the phone. So once again, you have someone who invites these people into his life. Hoffa knows who, and what, these people are, but he romanticizes the life, and has an outsized sense of his worth to them.

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Right away, the mood and setting are very different than the other two movies, (Goodfellas and Casino), which open with exciting scenes of violence, (and interestingly, with men in cars). This movie is reflective and melancholy. The opening scene is a quiet shot of Frank, in a senior citizen’s home, reminiscing about his past, to his lawyers. The movie is a flashback, but unlike Henry Hill”s story, Frank has no misty-eyed remembrances for the things he’s done. He joined the mob because he was a soldier who needed to do something with his life, after he came back from the war. He didn’t join because he loved the life, or glorified its denizens, and this is probably why he survived, although that’s no consolation, either. He is an old man filled with regret, and we come to have some amount of sympathy for him, although Scorsese never lets us think, for a moment, that he is a good guy. Nor does he show Frank as vicious or evil, for its own sake, although the things he does, are indeed,  vicious, and evil. Scorsese presents him as just a guy, who made the best choices he could, in the circumstances presented to him.

Deniro definitely deserves some form of recognition for his role here, but the two major highlights of the movie, for me, was Al Pacino’s Jimmy Hoffa, and Joe Pesci’s much quieter turn, as Russell Bufalino. You want to be reminded of his role as Tommy in Goodfellas, but this character is wholly unlike him. Bufalino is smarter, and more calculating, with a cool menace that the hotheaded, showboating, Tommy lacked. He and Frank become friends, and get to be quite close, but Frank, (and hence the audience), never forgets the power dynamic between them. Russell is his boss, and should Frank prove to be a threat, or an inconvenience, Russell could have him killed, and it would be just business.

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This was the most interesting part of the movie for me. Y’all know me. I love to watch different types of  characters interact. It’s interesting because movie audiences don’t often get to watch the  process of two grown men, who have been steeped in pride and machismo, their entire lives, put themselves in the vulnerable position of trusting a stranger, while navigating the power and violence of their positions,  to  become friends. You can see them feeling the other out, trying to reach a place of comfort. I found myself totally caught up in the moment. The faint distrust, and the questions they ask of each other, without actually asking them: What do you want from me? Are you a stand up guy? Will you give me straight answers? Can you be trusted?

Frank’s relationship with Hoffa is covered just as deeply. The most  fascinating part, is comparing how trust is shown between Frank and Hoffa, and Frank and Russell. Scorsese doesn’t fall into the trap of having the characters make grand declarations of how much they love and trust each other. There are scenes with Frank and Russell hanging out with each other’s families, or having dinner together. Some scenes with Frank and Hoffa are just them talking in Hoffa’s bedroom, before he goes to sleep. At one point, Hoffa nods off while talking to Frank, he trusts Frank so completely, and Frank just quietly sits there for a while, watching him sleep, and glancing out the window, and that scene is unexpectedly moving. It’s hard to know what Frank is thinking during that scene. The specter of violence hangs over everything he does, and that scene is even more tragic, when you know what happens between them later.

There are not a lot of women in this movie, and none of the men have any moral standing. The moral center of this film is Frank’s daughter, Peggy, (Anna Paquin) who sees her father beat a man on her behalf, when she is a child, and this impacts her relationship with him, for the rest of their lives. She gets probably three lines in the entire movie, but Scorsese sets her up, by giving us long closeups of her face, and her disapproval, and fear, of her father, (and by association, Russell), is apparent. We don’t need a loud, dramatic shouting match between them, to know that she has seen what kind of man he is, and  will never love him. Frank tries to reconcile with her before his death, but she will have none of him.

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Frank doesn’t just regret the things he did when he was younger, but all the familial relationships he let fall by the wayside, while prioritizing his relationships with the men he worked for, all of whom are now dead. He has to pay for his own funeral, buying his own tombstone. There’s no one alive, who would come to his funeral, anyway. The movie ends with Frank, alone in his room. He is the last one left of that old life, and he has nothing to show for it. Once again, Scorsese presents the mobster lifestyle as empty and meaningless. If you don’t die horribly, at the hands of someone you trusted, then you die alone, with no one to care.

There’s a lot of the movie I didn’t talk about, like the cinematography, and music, which are pretty standard for a Scorsese film, with some upbeat sixties songs, the most prominent song being, In the Still of the Night, by The Five Satins, which bookends the movie. There are two opening scenes, one with Frank beginning his story in the nursing home, and the other, the beginning of the story, which features him and Russell, taking a road trip, with their wives. The movie starts out really cute, with the wives fussing with their husbands in the car. Everyone is very comfortable with each other, at first, but as the trip continues, the tension begins to mount, as we overhear increasingly nervous phone calls between Russell, Frank, and Hoffa, finally culminating, in the last third of the movie, in Russell’s order to Frank.

The cinematography is superb ,as usual, but there are a few uncanny valley moments in the film as Deniro, Pesci, and Pacino had to be de-aged in a few of the scenes. The de-aged faces aren’t as emotive as their actual faces, so I kept getting jarred out of the story, by wondering every now and then, how the actors got de-aged for their roles, but this doesn’t happen a lot, and is easily ignored. If you’re not a fan of Scorsese’s mobster films, this still may be worth a look for you, because its very different in tone, but I do have to warn you,  that just like in the other movies, the violence is flat, graphic, and unforgiving. When it comes to acts of violence, Scorsese does not fuck around, or wince. People get beaten and shot, and there’s a harrowing scene where Frank shoots up a restaurant full of people. I have become a lot more squeamish, as I’ve gotten older, and these scenes were hard for even me to watch.

Despite its three hour run time, the movie didn’t make me feel restless at all. I sat through the entire three hours, and never missed them, or a moment of dialogue. The movie simply pulled me right in. It was moving, with moments of sheer horror, and is a testament to Scorsese’s skill as a director, as nothing is explicitly stated by any of the characters, yet its message is loud, and clear. I don’t know if this movie will be nominated for an Oscar. It, and everyone involved, should.

The Irishman is the best movie I’ve seen this year.

A Scathing Critique of the Disney Monopoly

“[If they] want to bitch about movies, that’s certainly their right… are you telling me Ryan Coogler, making Black Panther, is doing something… ‘less than’ what [they] have ever done… come on. There. I said it.”

By invoking Coogler’s name in response to criticism, Iger positioned BLACK PANTHER as representative of a pattern instead of an outlier in Marvel’s track record.  Out of 23 male directors hired leading up to ENDGAME, 21 are white men; the studio’s ratios of non-white male screenwriters and producers are likewise bleak.  It’s also reflected in ENDGAME’s condescending, slapdash battlefield moment featuring all-female characters— largely interchangeable and with negligible prior interaction —and co-director Joe Russo’s small cameo as a gay man—a demeaning footnote to a parade of heteronormality, with its ad nauseam “no homo” inserts of nuclear families meant to symbolize a return to normalcy.  Superficial inclusion means nothing if the underlying message is ignorant.

http://cinemalogue.com/2019/11/18/the-marvel-juggernaut-with-great-power-comes-zero-responsibility/

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Let’s set aside for now the film’s internal time-travel “logic”–of which even the directors and writers cannot agree–or the film’s aggressive heteronormativity, and the bizarre lack of closure to the Steve Rogers’ life-defining friendship with Bucky Barnes.  Other publications sufficiently explore these themes:

GameSpot: Avengers Endgame: Captain America’s Ending Totally Ruins The Movie

The Daily Dot: How the straight agenda ruined ‘Avengers: Endgame’

Fansided: Avengers: Endgame: A lack of closure at the end of the line

At the conclusion of Endgame, Rogers struggles for five years with the aftereffects of living in a post-apocalyptic world.  A veteran of World War II, frozen for 70 years, almost every event in his life since receiving Doctor Erskine’s serum accumulates shock and trauma.  He’s left with a litany of unaddressed mental health issues (including depression and PTSD), never truly acknowledged by the franchise.

http://cinemalogue.com/2019/05/20/avengers-endgame-male-entitlement-undermines-steve-rogers-core-characterization-and-story-arc/

 

Horror Movie Themes: Women Directors And Monster Women

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Women who direct horror movies are few and far between. They are simply not telling stories in significant numbers in the genre for critics to say there’s an overwhelming theme being tackled, but there are enough of them that a pattern is beginning to emerge.

 

Ostensibly, the stories women tell cover the same subjects as male directors,  but there are sometimes subtle differences, and most of that has to do with women’s perspective on the same topics. There is plenty of vengeance, serial killers, and  ultra violence, but where movies with male directors often focus on the spectacle of violence  against women, without questioning it, female directors often make women the total focus of the plot, as both victims and perpetrators. There are also  fewer otherworldly monsters in female directed movies. Often, in such films, the monsters are very  human, and sometimes those monsters are, in fact, the women.

There are exceptionally few horror movies directed by women of color, and the bare handful of movies that were, like Beloved, fall into the category of personal hauntings, that tackle issues that resonate with other women of color. The majority of women horror filmmakers, are White women, and they tend to focus on issues that are of importance to them, and one starts to notice a pattern in the themes of the movies they make.

If White men work out their personal anxieties through the types of horror they create, then so do White women. It is not that women of color cannot relate to these themes, it’s just that for them, such themes may not be a priority, and tend to carry less resonance for them.

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In movies like Carrie by Kimberly Pierce, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, by Ana Lily Amirpour,  and Jennifer’s Body by Karyn Kusama, the theme is not just the Monstrous Feminine, but femaleness itself as monster. There is no coding of femininity as  horrific in these movies. It is a  woman who is a horrible monster, who feeds on men, or  destroys the human body, with a thought, and she is like this, because she is female, as that is an integral part of the horror in the film.

Carrie and Jennifer’s Body  also tackle issues that are of specific relevance to women, like puberty, menstruation,  friendship, and sexual trauma. In female directed films, there is less emphasis on the disruption and restoration of order, or the status quo. Often, their films don’t actually have any resolution, or the emphasis is on the disruption, and restoration, of relationships, or cathartic punishments, instead.

Themes about monstrosity, in such movies, often revolve around body horror, and consumption, as dieting, and the non/consumption of food, and women’s relationships to food, make up the bulk of the personal anxieties in the privileged classes of women who sometimes make these films. In Julia Decournau’s Raw (2016),  a vegetarian girl develops a craving for meat after she undergoes a hazing ritual involving the eating of raw animals. In the 1999 Ravenous,  by the late Antonia Bird, Guy Pierce develops a taste for raw meat after he is nearly killed during the Mexican – American War, and in Jennifer’s Body, a young woman has to save her high school friend, after she realizes her friend has become a flesh eating demon. (There is a lot to unpack, in the movie Jennifer’s Body, which we will discuss later.) Many middle-class, White, Western women have a love/hate , and a fear/disgust, relationship with food, dieting, and  consumption, and we see that play out in these films, as eating, (usually blood and meat), becomes the primary focus of the horror.

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Female directed movies often tend to be more intimate, focusing on the horror of relationships, or the topic of motherhood. What mothers are willing to do for, or sometimes to, their families is the subject of the 2014 movie, The Babadook, where a mother fears she may kill her son, when she is haunted,  and then possessed, after reading about the titular character.

In the anthology XX, many of the stories revolve around the horrific circumstances that can occur when a mother loves her family. Motherhood, already a source of real world anxiety, is a frequent topic in films made by women. In The Box, the themes are also loss, helplessness, and non/consumption, as a woman loses her entire family, when they starve themselves, after her son views the contents of a mysterious box. It is a secret that kills them, and which they refuse to share with her, so that when they are gone, she spends the rest of her life riding the subway, hoping to encounter the man with the box again. The story, Her only Living Son, directly tackles sacrificial motherhood, as a woman sacrifices her life to save her son from his Satanic destiny.

Sex is a huge component of female directed horror movies, but unlike films directed by men, that mostly just feature the spectacle of  women having sex,  or being raped, the focus from women directors is on the danger, and vulnerability of intimacy, and often based on a young woman’s fear of sexual activity, and fear of the loss of innocence, that may be the result. In the film, A Girl Walks Home Alone, a nameless female, Iraqi  vampire hunts men. This movie is groundbreaking, not just because of its setting, and plot, but character. The sexual forwardness of Iraqi women isn’t often featured in film, let alone as a night-stalking blood drinker. The director, Amirpour, is not White, but the themes of consumption, and blood as a euphemism for sex, still find a way into the story.

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Blood plays a huge part in a lot of the stories told by women, from Carrie, to Raw, to Jennifer’s Body, with the theme being  linked to  femininity, fertility, and/or sex. The movie, Carrie, begins and ends with blood. Based on the novel by Stephen King, it chronicles a young woman’s perilous navigation through high school. At the beginning of the story, the onset of her menses signals her introduction to adulthood, and heightens her telekinetic abilities. The story ends with the killing of her entire graduating class, after a bucket of pig’s blood is dumped over her during the school prom, an act which was informed by the opening events of the story, when she has her first period in front of her bullying classmates.

Blood and flesh are especially popular topics of these films, in that many of them contain cannibalism and/or vampirism. In the movie Raw, relationships, and adulthood rites take center stage, as a young woman, who has a contentious relationship with her sister, gets turned into a cannibal after an initial hazing at her sister’s college, that turns out to be an initiation, not just into a sorority, but also adulthood. In Blood and Donuts (1995), a vampire who has just awakened from a long sleep, is introduced to the modern world, via the night shift worker at a local bakery. Over the course of the evening, the young lady figures out who and what he is, and the two of them engage in a push and pull attraction, as he decides whether or not he should prey on her.

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In the 1987 movie, Near dark, a young man is inducted into a nightmare lifestyle, where he has to kill to live, when he meets a pretty blonde girl, at a bar one night. Vampires, since they, like blood, are often a euphemism for sex and adulthood, are the focus of women’s stories, such as Fran Rubel Kazui’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Buffy went on to answer deeper questions about girlhood and monsters, in the TV series, which lasted from 1997 to 2003. In fact, these themes are so prevalent, that they often seem to be having a dialogue with each other, or with movies of the same genre, made by men.

There is a lot of narrative overlap, for example, between Near Dark, Ravenous, and the movie, Afflicted, which cover not just the same themes, but sometimes the same talking points, of the male protagonist’s empathy making them unfit to live the kind of lifestyle that requires killing others. There is also a great deal of narrative overlap in the movies Carrie, Raw, and Ginger Snaps, more films in which menstruation, and flesh eating, are the signals that a young woman has reached full adulthood.

Now let’s talk about Jennifer’s Body.

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Jennifer’s body is a great encapsulation of some of the themes and topics that women address through horror. The themes of friendship, female ally-ship and support, revenge, sexuality,  and patriarchy are part of this narrative.

Jennifer’s Body was released in 2009, written by Diablo Cody, and directed by Karen Kusama. Jennifer Check, as played by Megan Fox, is the high school hot girl. She is the sassy, beautiful, popular, cheerleader, that all the  high school boys lust after. Amanda Seyfried plays Amanda “Needy” Lesnicki,  her quiet, bookish,  best friend, since elementary school. Jennifer gets possessed by a demon, after she is sacrificed to Satan by a local rock band, in exchange for fame.

Already there are themes of the sexuality of women being exploited for male gain. The band, called Low Shoulder, thinks she is a virgin, and their sacrifice was successful, but since she was not actually a virgin, she became possessed instead. After she has killed two young men, Amanda figures out that she is a succubus that is impervious to harm after feeding on her victims. Jennifer attacks Amanda’s boyfriend, who then attacks and eventually kills her. However, bitten by Jennifer, Amanda has now developed some of the Demon Jennifer’s abilities. At the end of the movie, she hunts down  the band Low Shoulder, and kills them.

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Throughout the movie, we are  privy to some of the more interesting conversations that women have when men are not present, and this is something that will only happen in a movie that is written and controlled by women. Not only will there often be more than one woman in a movie, but their relationships and conversations often have more depth. The film is informed by two women in front of the camera as well as the two women behind it. It is the relationship between Amanda and Jennifer that is integral to the plot of the film. If we don’t buy their friendship, we cannot become emotionally invested in their plight, most especially in Amanda’s dilemma at having to kill her best friend.

https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2018/08/206237/jennifers-body-review-defense-female-revenge-movie

Amanda isn’t just killing Jennifer to save the lives of the young men she might feed on, but to save Jennifer. too. I talked in an earlier post about how Horror is basically the disruption of the status quo by the unknown, often the paranormal, and yes, Jennifer as a demon is a disruption of the status quo,  but the status quo, does not necessarily mean “good”. The status quo is Jennifer’s humanity being disregarded  by  men who were willing to  sacrifice her life for their own gain. That Jennifer, and then Amanda, become demons is a necessary disruption, especially as part of the revenge narratives that are also prominent in women’s horror. Not only are revenge narratives common for women directors, they are often very cathartic for the creators and audiences.

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https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/nov/03/carrie-stephen-king-brian-de-palma-horror-films-feminism

Kimberly Pierce’s Carrie, from 2011, is another movie that appears to be having a dialogue with Jennifer’s Body, as it covers many of the same themes, of women’s relationships, both supportive and toxic, and the revenge narrative. Although the story was originally written by Stephen King, and the original movie was directed Brian De Palma, I talked at length about how the mood and emphasis of the film is changed, as Pierce  focuses more on the women’s tangled relationships with each other, rather than on spectacle.

So for female horror directors, there seems to be less emphasis on spectacle (although that’s definitively present becasue these are horror movies), and more focus on symbolism, and the relationships between the characters. For me, this supports my supposition that the type of moves that get made are a reflection of the types of people who make them. If this is true of the Japanese, or British, then its equally true for the White men who run Hollywood, and are the primary creators in the horror genre. So, yes, I think that the types of films being made by White women (as these directors are primarily White) are a reflection of the things that are important to them.

There have not been enough Black and Asian-American filmmakers, in the horror genre, for certain patterns to emerge, but I’m going to give it a try in a follow-up post.

They’re Not Funny, They’re Just Bullies

I just published my first monied story on Medium. com. I can’t link to it from here but its under the name Lakitha Tolbert,, under the above title.

Even if you’re not a member of Medium, you can access at least three to four free stories a month. There are also different tiers of membership from free, to 5.00 per month.

An excerpt:

Yes, there are transgender comedians, and because they are members of that group, they are free to make jokes about their community, just as any member of a community can make jokes about it. But if it was wrong for White people (the ones who invented the racism and stereotypes that were responsible for so much Black death) to make jokes that demean the Black community, then it is equally wrong for straight, cis-gender men to stand on a stage, and make jokes about the kinds of people who get murdered by people who look like them.

This isn’t about being offended, thin skinned, or a snowflake. This is about actively harming a group of people who have told you, over and over, that your words are harming them, as those words are reinforcing, and contributing to, an environment of hatred of them.

So, slide on over to Medium.com and check it out. It costs nothing to do so, and please applaud the story!

 

Why Tony Stark Had To Die

What I’ve actually  noticed about the MCU version of Tony Stark, is that a lot of the people who stan hard for this character, are people without a fundamental understanding of what he is, why he is, and why, after everything that happened in the MCU, Tony was never meant to be the one who got to ride off into the sunset, while holding his sweetheart’s hand.

In other words, Tony had to die.

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Often, when a character who has done something bad or evil sees the error of their ways and does a Heel–Face Turnin the course of fighting to undo the damage, their redemption comes at the cost of their own life.

——– https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RedemptionEqualsDeath

Tony needed to pay for the misdeeds of his past, (something he’s been trying to do since the first film), and according to the conventions of  Western literature, such characters can only atone for their sins by dying, and when they do die, their motivation must be pure.Tony is a redemptive figure, who tried sacrificing his life to atone for his sins multiple times, but only experiences a true atonement, at the end of his arc, as it should be.

Darth Vader from Star Wars, Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy, Diablo from Suicide Squad, Venom, the father from A Quiet Place, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, and Steve Rogers, are all examples of pure self sacrifice. It is the kind of sacrifice that comes from a place of pure love, of one’s son, of one’s friends, of the world in general, or one’s children, with no thought to how your death might benefit  you.

Although giving one’s life out of love for another is rare, it is not as uncommon as might be thought. Perhaps we only hear about it occasionally because the circumstances in which it might manifest itself are, fortunately, not so common. This self-sacrificing love was referred to by the Buddha when he said that a loving friend would “give what is hard to give” [1] or be prepared “to sacrifice his life for his friend”. [2] The Jatakas say something similar concerning one’s family: “Whatever your circumstances, do the necessary to alleviate the suffering of your father, your mother or your sister, even to your last breath.” [3] One is reminded of what Jesus said some five centuries later: “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend.” [4] 

—-  https://www.bhantedhammika.net/like-milk-and-water-mixed/self-sacrificing-love

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Redemption arcs make their way into Western Literature,  through the  Christian belief system, (although other religions also feature this belief), with the ultimate sacrifice  in the Bible’s New Testament, referring  to the  deliverance of Christians from sin (salvation), through the death of Christ. In this instance, Tony, who is established as a Christ figure, (a very common trope in Western films), sacrifices his life for the salvation of the human race from Thanos, (who is set up as a Satanic figure, in the Avengers narrative, but Thanos is a whole other story.).)

In the movie, Constantine, which is also heavily based on Christian narratives, the main character knows he’s going  to Hell for the sins he committed in life. He’s seen Hell, and knows its demons are waiting to have a reckoning with him. He is terrified of it, but knows it is  soon, when he finds out he has lung cancer. At the end of the film, he saves the soul of a young woman named Isabel, who committed suicide, and consequently, went to Hell. He commits suicide too, knowing that the Devil will come to collect him personally, which he does. Lucifer grants Constantine a wish out of gratitude for thwarting another demon’s plans, (quid pro quo). Instead of wishing for a longer life, or not to go to Hell, Constantine wishes for Isabel to be released to Heaven. Lucifer agrees, but realizes just too late, that he cannot take Constantine to Hell now, because he committed a genuinely  pure act of self sacrifice.

Tony has tried a few times to sacrifice his life, but his motives were never pure, and his act of sacrifice was interrupted each time.

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I’m honestly baffled that people didn’t see his death coming, but then, I have never seen Tony through rose tinted glasses. I actually like Tony, and appreciated that most of his  character arc was him being an unremitting shit, but  at least trying to atone for his sins, and failing as much as he succeeded, but I will not lie about the type of man he was.

Tony Stark was an asshole.

And what’s more, Tony knew he was an asshole, too, which is why I posit that the many sacrifices of his life he tried to make, came from a selfish foundation. Even after his death, the MCU is still dealing with the aftermath of the decisions he made, and the people he hurt, when he was alive. Most of the villains that Tony fought throughout his own trilogy, in The Avengers, and Spiderman, came about through  his callous disregard for how his decisions affected the lives of the average man. I spoke before, about how Tony’s shortsightedness limited his morality.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/07/19/on-the-right-captain-america-and-iron-man/

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Stark was an arms dealer, and war profiteer. He made money from war, and up until  that came back to bite him on the ass by nearly killing him, he spent no time thinking about the amount of death  his weapons, (the guns, the missiles, the ammunition), caused in the world. Tony  always had a close relationship with death.  He and death were old friends, and he was one of Death’s greatest enablers, through The Stark Corporation.

It is not until his own weapons are used against him that Tony experiences “SATORI“, a moment of sudden enlightenment. He broke up with Death, and had been dodging Death’s retaliation ever since. Sooner, or later, it would have caught up to him. He  takes steps to rectify the damage he caused, by stopping his company’s arms dealing, but that is not enough. He creates the Iron man suit, so he can stop those he once armed, but that opens a whole new can of worms, because now other weapons dealers, following Tony’s  example, want their own version of the Iron Man suit. He’s simply created a new weapon for people to fight over.

At every step, Tony creates some new world horror, in his attempt to atone for the harm he caused earlier in his career, when he didn’t care. Ironically, one of the better things that came out of his creation of Iron Man, was the creation of the Avenger’s Initiative, which Nick Fury was inspired to create. (Nick Fury went on to commit his own sins in his attempt to protect the world.)

In the second Iron Man film, the events that occur may stem from decisions his father made before he was born, but Tony’s decision to go public with his identity in the first movie, has repercussions in this, and  the third movie. In the third movie, we learned that Tony’s earlier, callous, disregard for other people’s feelings is what helped create The Mandarin, and his decision to directly challenge The Mandarin in a public forum, nearly cost his and Pepper’s life.

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Throughout the movies, Tony, people often confront Tony. People like to pull out his sins, and slap him in the face with them, and that often works to change his behavior, so this is how I know Tony feels some type of way about the kind of life and living he made for himself. When he thinks he’s going to die in Iron Man 2, Tony goes on a drunken spree, and has to be saved by his friends. In Civil War, he’s confronted by the mother of one of the victims of the Ultron Incident which spurs him to sign The Accords, and the entire plot is based off the events in Sokovia, in Age of Ultron, which would never have happened, if Tony had not made the decision to try to protect the world via robot. Even Steve gets in on the act, in the first Avengers film , calling Tony out as a useless coward. Tony tries to prove he isn’t, by attempting to sacrifice his life at the end of that movie.

 

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Tony often put himself in situations where death was inevitable. He is afraid to die, but he can’t seem to stop himself from challenging the thing he most fears. (Challenging the things he fears is one of the things he has in common with Steve Rogers, although Tony does it for different reasons.) He is saved several times, by Rhodey, by Pepper, by his team, in The Avengers, and Captain Marvel in Endgame. I suspect that Tony doesn’t think much of his life, of how he has used it, and he probably thinks his death would have more meaning,  yet he doesn’t really  want to die. When Doctor Strange gives him the signal, there is no doubt in his mind what he is meant to do, and he doesn’t hesitate.

Tony once served death, chased after death, challenged death, and flirted with death. Yet, so terrified was he of dying, that he was willing to commit rather extreme acts of self harm to stave it off (the ARC reactor in his chest, for example).  The other times, when Tony tried to sacrifice his life, his motivation was not pure. He was doing it because he thought he deserved to die, and that is a selfish reason. It is only fitting that at the denouement of Endgame, Tony finally, gracefully, and willingly accepts death, and is not doing so to punish himself, or for his own salvation, or the accolades he think he will get when he’s gone. He does it to save the lives of his friends, and loved ones, standing just a few feet away. Removing the immediate threat is his primary goal ,and his death is just the price he must pay for that. His motivation this time is love, and unlike all the other times when he nearly died, his motive is pure.

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Tony is the only White male character, I’ve ever  liked, who was so incredibly flawed, and in some instances, actively shitty. In any other circumstances, Tony would have been considered a sympathetic villain, but here, in the MCU, he is cast as a damaged, but heroic, character. I don’t like Tony because he is a hero. I like him because he knows how flawed he is, and desperately wants and tries to be one. (I also love Robert Downey’s performance, which closely echoes Tony’s character arc, if you know anything about his personal life.)

I am not comfortable with the lionization of Tony Stark, by his fans since  his death, however. They build up his character in ways he was not, which does a disservice to the character, his story arc, and Downey’s performance. All along, Downey knew exactly the type of character he was portraying.

I feel it is disrespectful to the character, to make him out to be something he was not, because that ignores his character arc, and diminishes the meaning of his death.This is not the story of a “good” man, who did even more good when he died. This is the story of a horribly flawed man looking for salvation from his sins. I’m probably one of the few fans who doesn’t mourn Tony’s death. In an earlier post, about Endgame,, I said I was alright with Tony dying, and this is  why. In Avengers Endgame, he actually achieved the redemption he was always seeking, and did so without hesitation.

Tony died very well, because he deserved to.

The Truman Show (1998): Questioning Reality

During the late 90’s there was a spate of existentialist movies, that asked questions about the nature of reality, the self,  and questioned our sense of who we were. Movies like Dark City, The 13th Floor, Pleasantville, The Matrix, Existenz, and yes, The Truman Show, all questioned if the world we lived in was truly real, if we were real, and if nothing is real, does anything we experience matter.

The Truman Show didn’t just question reality. It asked questions about freedom, and self determination, as well. Truman is a man who has been imprisoned in a pleasant middle class, artificial, bubble his entire life, with a pretty blond wife, a non-descript job, one close friend, and a tragic past that’s specifically designed to hold him in place, and keep him from moving forward. His life is comfortable and certain. It is difficult not to see parallels to our own lives in Truman and his circumstances.

Truman has a daily routine. He does the same thing every day, with the same catchphrases, ordering the same food, the same magazines at the newsstand, driving the same route to and from work. Truman is mostly happy with his life, but its not an exciting life, so he fantasizes a lot.

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One of the first images we get of Truman is his childlike fantasy of being an astronaut. Truman longs to do something different, go somewhere else, be someone else, but he is trapped in place, as so many of us are, by our jobs, our circumstances, monetary concerns, our families, and other obligations, that we consider more important than our freedom to do as we please. Like Truman many of us fantasize about being  someone else, someplace else, and for most of us, fantastical visions of riding dragons, or pretending to be a favorite cartoon character, are enough.

Many of us live in comfortable bubbles, occasionally  chafing at our restrictions, and any attempts to break free of those restrictions can get you branded with labels like mentally ill,  mid-life crisis, or hysteria. Your desire to  break free, can often make other people deeply uncomfortable, and can prompt them to deploy tactics that will get you back into your bubble, to be quiet, and complacent, once again.

Truman is a man who has been held in captivity, since he was born, by an avant-garde filmmaker, named  Christof, who adopted him, kept him imprisoned in a fake world, with actors and actresses as friends and family, and put his entire life on live television. Everything in Truman’s life is manufactured, his job isn’t real, his marriage was carefully orchestrated, his best friend is an actor, his father was conveniently killed when he was a child, and he has been socialized with a number of phobias (aqua-phobia) that make it near impossible for him to leave the fake set.  In other words, his world is carefully designed to keep him in place, keep him from questioning it, and keep him from growing, changing , or progressing.

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Many of us live the kinds of lives we are reluctant to leave, it can be difficult for us to grow and move forward because we’ve become used to how our life is. It can be difficult to try new things, or make big changes in our lives, even changes we need to have, because we fear the unknown future. If you’re someone who has a great fear of the unknown, then moving into a future you cannot see, would be very difficult. This is how Truman engages with the world in the first half of his life, until a monkey-wrench called “first love” throws everything he knows into question. He falls in love with a young woman named Sylvia, who wasn’t chosen for him, and she is, rather traumatically, removed from his world. Truman developed such a special longing for her, that she came to represent the one thing in his life he didn’t have, uncertainty, and the unknown.

He begins to question the world he lives in. In other words, he starts to wake up, especially after  he experiences a series of strange events. like seeing his supposedly dead father, chunks of sky falling on his car, a photo of his wife with her fingers crossed behind her back (which indicates that she was lying). Truman attempts to express his nascent suspicions to his wife, mother, and best friend, who only try  to gaslight him, with temporary success. Over time, Truman begins to test his theory, and finally reaches the conclusion that the world he lives in, and the people he knows, is not real.

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Truman only begins to ask the right questions, after he sees the patterns around him, and starts putting those patterns in the correct order. When he sees his dead father on the street, the man is immediately whisked away by a group of strangers. Later that week, there is a radio mix up, where he hears one of the camera men narrating what he is doing. He notices a pattern in the people who cross in front of his house. He notices  patterns and reaches proper conclusions. He begins to see the artificiality.

For example, he suspects that he is being watched, that the people in his world are fake, and  don’t know what to do when he does  unexpected things. So he disrupts his routine in small ways, like walking into a different building, or deciding to accompany his wife (a nurse) to a surgery that was made up in an attempt to explain something he saw earlier that day. By behaving unpredictably, he has introduced uncertainty, and the unknown to the set, which disrupts everyone else’s routine, as well.

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Ironically, many of us suspect that the world we live in is a facade, as we seek to explain the uncertainty of our life, rather than the certainties. This theory was especially popular during the last years of the 20th century, which accounts for the popularity of  films, in which the protagonists question the randomness of their lived experiences. In the Matrix, Neo tells Trinity about a number of events that happened to him when he was unaware he was in the matrix, and asks her what that means. Trinity’s answer is that the matrix cannot tell you who you are. She is in essence telling him that when he lived in the matrix, that he was not his true self.

Since the events that occurred to Neo can be said to have been contrived by computer programs, his reactions to those events were inauthentic, and not evidence of his true self.  Another argument that can be made, however, is that such contrived events are not any different than random events contrived by a god, and if we can accept that our authentic self is in evidence when under the aegis of a mythological figure, than why can we not accept the authenticity of self while under the control of an AI?

One of the reasons that Truman gives for desperately trying to escape Christof’s prison, is that he wants a real life, an authentic life. Christof tries to talk him into staying in his artificial world by telling him that life is no more authentic, in the “real” world, than it is in his fake one. he tells Truman that there is no truth, thereby  illustrating a fundamental misunderstanding of Truman’s motives. Truman is not searching for truth. He is searching for “the real”, which is not the same thing.

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But, as we all must do, if we hope to move forward, to progress in our lives, Truman takes a leap of faith, into the unknown. At some point, if we hope to meet our real selves, we must all walk through a mysterious door, into an uncertain future. Truman has no idea what is on the other side of the door he’s about to walk through, but like Red, from the Shawshank Redemption, he hopes to see Sylvia, and take her hand. He hopes to find himself. He hopes to be happy. He hopes to find love.

He hopes.

And so must we all.

 

Jet Li Unleashed (2005): Surviving Abuse

 

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One of the more unusual martial arts films I’ve  seen, is one which stars Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption), and Jet Li. Yeah, I said it. Morgan Freeman starred in a martial arts film. Okay he didn’t do any martial arts, which I definitely would have watched. He was a piano tuner, but that’s okay, because Jet Li engaged in enough rock’em, sock’em for everyone in the movie. This is an unusual movie, not just because of its dissimilar cast, but because it is as much of a drama, as it is an action movie.

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The movie’s first title was Danny the Dog, when it was released overseas in 2004. When it was released in the US, in 2005, it was renamed Unleashed, and received moderate reviews, probably because most people didn’t get to see it, and the ones who did see it didn’t quite know what to make of it. Its not a bad film, but it is a tonally odd movie, that somehow manages to work, and that is entirely due to the acting, and what mindset you bring to it.

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Morgan Freeman, as Sam, is his usual excellent self, and so is Bob Hoskins as an abusive gangster named Bart. Jet Li is Danny the Dog, and  does surprisingly well, as an emotionally stunted and abused young man, They are joined by Kerry Condon, as Danny’s bubbly love interest, Victoria. I actually enjoyed this movie, but then I walked in not really knowing what to expect, even though I had heard of the movie with its previous title.

Bart has been raising Danny, the son of a young woman he exploited and killed, as a beast who wears a metal collar, which, when it’s removed, is Danny’s cue to kill whoever  Bart has pointed his finger, first as one of Bart’s enforcers, and then in  underground fight clubs. Bart styles himself as a kindly uncle, who is just taking care of the helpless Danny, but he is horrifically abusive, treating Danny like an animal, putting him on a leash, making him eat out of dog dishes, and live in a  cage in the basement. He is a cartoonish example of abusive parenting, and clothes himself in virtue, by calling it love.

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One day Danny accidentally stumbles across Sam, fixing a piano in an antique shop, and the blind Sam, is kind and friendly to him, something Danny has never experienced. He becomes fascinated by the piano, and later, asks for one from Bart, but a rival gangster takes Bart out of the equation, via car crash. Danny is injured in the attack, but manages to find his way back to the antique shop where Sam works. Sam takes Danny in, and patches him up.

So thirty minutes into the movie, it turns into a found family story, that’s rather endearing, carried mostly on the strength of the acting. Danny is from a highly abusive, even life threatening, relationship with the man who raised him, while Victoria and Sam have an open, loving, and healthy relationship, with more than enough room to welcome Danny. A significant portion of the film is taken up with montages, and scenes, of Danny discovering the joys of ice cream, kissing, and both familial and romantic love, learning to cook with Sam, and  play the piano with Vic, and just be happy. He starts to regain memories of his mother and begins investigating his origins.

Victoria is also an adopted child, but she had the good luck to be raised by Sam instead of  someone like Bart. Victoria’s biological father died when she was small, and her mother married Sam. After her mother died, Sam became her father, and moved them both to France, so that she could go to music school. Sam’s love for his child, is as it should be, sacrificial, and supportive. They are a  family that prays before each meal, and fully embody the Christian principles of charity and kindness, and become a model for Danny for how a healthy family behaves.

Sam and Victoria are the stellar opposite  of  Bart, and the various flunkies who surround, and obey him, who all witness Danny being treated abusively, and say and do nothing. Bart is a man with many pretensions. He is a user who pretends  at kindness, a gangster with pretensions to class and upbringing, and a bully, who pretends to be a father figure. Thanks to Bart, Danny is emotionally underdeveloped, withdrawn, anxious, and extremely focused on any given task.

The first time Danny wakes up in Sam’s and Victoria’s home, he is frightened and nervous, and hides under the bed. At dinner, he doesn’t know to use a spoon for his soup, and he is still wearing his metal collar. But Sam and Victoria adapt to him as he adapts to them, and are as loving and supportive to him, as they are to each other. They suspect that he comes from a violent situation, and are sensitive about how they treat him, by not asking questions they think would cause traumatic memories ,and they teach him how to live a normal life, as Danny has never been taught to do anything but kill and is completely inured to violence.

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At one point, a fight breaks out in a local store that Sam and Danny frequent, which Danny entirely ignores, saying he was unconcerned because the fight didn’t involve him. This is how well trained Danny is with his collar on. Later, when Victoria reaches to take the collar off, saying its the last vestige of his old life he needs to get rid of, he is terrified that when she does so,  he will attack her, because the only times it was ever removed, he would kill. You can see his adrenaline spike just thinking about it, but he allows her to remove it, and when nothing happens you can see the relief on his face. He trusts himself now, in a way that would not have been possible, earlier in their relationship. As it turns out, he is not the natural born killer Bart trained him to be.

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https://www.loyola.edu/department/counseling-center/students/concerns/abuse

When children are exposed to abuse, they learn to protect themselves through denial, withdrawal, approval-seeking, turning off their feelings, acting out, and self-blame. Using these coping mechanisms during childhood has long-term consequences, which can include lack of trust, a fear of change and resultant difficulty in adjusting, difficulty knowing or showing one’s own feelings, being easily stressed and acting on that by abusing substances, food, and one’s own body, and feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth.

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Sam and Victoria model for Danny how a loving relationship between a stepparent and child is supposed to work.When Sam and Victoria have a disagreement, they argue, come to a truce, and then make up. They disagreed, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still love each other. Contrast that with Danny’s relationship to his evil stepfather  Bart, who gives the orders, and, according to Bart, “the dog obeys!” There can be no disagreement with Bart. When Danny insists that he wants a piano, Bart is angry, manipulative, and cajoling. He screams and/or lies, to Danny, to get what HE wants.

Later, Danny refuses to fight, deciding he doesn’t want to kill people anymore, and Bart becomes increasingly angry and more violent, but is unable to force Danny to do what he wants him to do. Danny sees this powerlessness, and finally connects his mother’s death (which he witnessed as a child) to Bart. He rebels completely and leaves him. This move may or may not be especially cathartic to abuse survivors, but its was certainly good to watch Danny reject Bart. After experiencing so much happiness with Sam and Victoria, he can’t possibly make himself go back to that life.

Bart follows him to his home, with Sam and Victoria, and attempts to kill them, because threatening Danny’s new family is the only leverage he has to make him obey. Danny nearly kills Bart, but is stopped by Sam and Victoria who tell him that he cannot begin his commitment to peace by killing Bart. Bart’s life isn’t saved because Sam and Victoria care about him. Its saved because they love Danny and believe, as he does,  that he should stop killing.

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https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/03/survivors-child-abuse-remind/

#3. You Are Still Loved, Even When It’s Uncomfortable to Accept Love from Others

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At the end of the movie, Victoria tells Danny  his life was saved by music, and this may be true, but really Danny saves himself, by the choices he makes. Like a lot of abuse survivors, he is presented with the option of staying, as the abuser tries to sweet talk him into coming back, and how everything will better, and the abuser will be a nicer person, who really loves them. Classic abuser speak, basically.

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Danny realizes he actually has choices. He chooses to stop killing and commits to it,  he chooses to leave Bart, and sets the terms of it, and finally chooses not to kill Bart, not because he cares about Bart’s  life, but because he cares about his own. But one of the biggest choices Danny makes is the choice to accept  love and support, which is healing for him. With Sam and Victoria, Danny starts to do things he never contemplated when he was with Bart. He makes plans for his future, sets goals, and claims what he desires.

This is not a completely accurate depiction of surviving child abuse, because this is, after all, an action film, but it makes some interesting points about  it. I’m pretty sure  most of the people who walked into the theater to see this, had no idea this would turn into a movie about surviving domestic abuse, but I found it uplifting and fun to watch. True, not all martial arts movies have this level of  depth, but like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, they sometimes have messages, and deal with  serious issues.

 

 

  • Next up on martial arts movies: Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and  Colonialism

 

 

Unnecessary Tumblr

threadworks windorabug
kunabee: “ rabbittiddy: “ petermorwood: “ hippiebirdmom: “ bibliotecaria-d: “ ebonykain: “ karacat: “ othersideofforty: “ erinnightwalker: “ ripped-up-jeans-and-glitter: “ erinnightwalker: “ acaffeinejunkie: “ erinnightwalker: “ erinnightwalker: “...
 sixpenceee

“A house I pass on the way to work has this sculpture in its yard. Its about 8 feet tall.”

 

 geostatonary

“HELLO NEIGHBOR STEVE, I WOULD LIKE TO INVITE YOU TO BARBEQUE ON THE EVE OF THE BLOOD MOON.  I FEEL WE GOT OFF TO A BAD START.”

“NEIGHBOR STEVE, DO YOU NOT WISH TO PARTAKE OF THE UNCLEAN FLESH-MEATS OF PIGS AND THE POLLUTED ESSENCES OF TOMATO?  PERHAPS YOU ARE A CAROLINA STYLE MAN, NEIGHBOR STEVE?”

“PUT THE GUN AWAY NEIGHBOR STEVE, YOU KNOW I SHALL ONLY RISE AGAIN WITH THE DAWNING OF THE MOON.  WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH THIS MANY TIMES.”

“LOOK AT THIS PICTURE MY SON DREW OF YOU AND CHILD TIMMY, YOUR SON.  ARE THEY NOT THE PICTURE OF PACT-MATES?  THIS COULD BE YOU AND ME, NEIGHBOR STEVE.”

“YOU MISSED THE UNHOLY NEXUS OF POWER THAT IS THE KEY TO MY CORPOREAL FORM, NEIGHBOR STEVE.  YOU WILL NEED TO RELOAD NOW, SO I WILL GO INSIDE TO MY HELL-WIFE AND PUT YOU DOWN AS A SOLID ‘MAYBE’.“

 erinnightwalker

I have the feeling that the families get along great except for Steve. Like, the wives are baking (questionable) brownies together, the kids are playing together, Antler Guy occasionally takes Son and Timmy to school (no car, just carries them in huge swinging strides through a nexus of ungoldly sights in a swirling netherworld shortcut. Sometimes they stop for McDonalds). Hell-wife gave them a potted Audrey Jr., Steve’s wife (who I now christen Sharon) gave them a begonia.

One time Steve tries throwing holy water but all Antler Guy does is thank him, saying that no, Antler Guy isn’t Catholic but it’s the thought that counts, he is so kind to water his creeping deathshade vines regardless.

For Christmas Antler Guy gives Steve a case of ammunition. To be funny/sarcastically mean Steve gets Antler Guy the world’s most hideous Christmas sweater, singing light-up reindeer included. He immediately regrets it because not only does Antler Guy love it and wears it for several months, it will never need batteries because Antler Guy powers it with his own eldritch aura.

When they come back from a holiday to Hawaii, Steve is horrified to find out Sharon bought them matching Hawaiian shirts. He is even more horrified that his wife means it that if he doesn’t wear it he will forever sleep on the couch.

 erinnightwalker

I want to expand on this, since I see it’s still passing around and the ideas have grown in my brainmeats.

What drives Steve up the wall and down the other side is how… normal… everyone treats the Abominations. (Yes, that is their last name. No, it is not a joke. Son was asked his last name for the standardized testing at school, had a quick conference with Timmy, and decided that Son Abomination sounded good, “Since my dad calls your dad the Abomination anyway and we can paint it on your mailbox just like the Henderson’s did theirs!”. Antler Guy agreed and did a lovely rendition of it for the mailbox, with only a few glyphs of soul-rending terror added to keep up to snuff.)

The Great Plant Exchange went beautifully, though the Audrey Jr. (named Aubergine for the lovely shade of purple poison that drips from her fangs) is on a diet at the moment. She was in cahoots with the cat and the dog to get into the good people food and ate two frozen turkeys all herself. Now she’s restricted to the hallway table to answer the phone and the door. (Steve actually likes her, and keeps slipping her hotdogs when Sharon isn’t looking. Their door-to-door salesman rates have dropped dramatically since she changed abodes.) Hell-wife has almost gotten the begonia to bloom and say it’s first words.

The homeowner’s association just loves the Abominations. All paperwork stamped and dotted, in on time and in triplicate. Antler Guy likes filing, says it reminds him of his old job. There is a resident who spent 20 years as a lawyer and they have long, animated conversations about all sorts of things that make Steve swear to never need legal counsel.

Hell-wife joined the PTA and spearheaded a committee to fundraise in the fall with a haunted house. It was a county-wide hit, though the claims that a particularly rowdy group had been deliberately lost in a timeslip to the Outer Doors Of Chaos was firmly rebuffed. Most young people nowadays, it was agreed, just couldn’t appreciate flute music.

Antler Guy really does try to connect with Steve. The surprise birthday party was perhaps a bit much, given that most participants do not have the ability to suddenly materialize in front of the guest of honor to give them a hug. Sharon assured them that Steve normally screams on his birthday, and the remains of the cake were heartily enjoyed by all. (A plate was saved for Steve once he came down from the treehouse.)

After the Hawaii trip (which was a present for his birthday) and the Matching Shirt Ultimatum (which was Sharon’s attempt at patching things up with Antler Guy, he really was sad about the birthday screaming), Steve finally grabs his courage in both hands (plus the shotgun, which let’s face it is about as useful as a teddybear at the moment but it does comfort him) and confronts Antler Guy, about why such a group of……Abominations could possibly come to his quiet slice of suburban bliss.

“……BUT NEIGHBOR STEVE, WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HERE.”

“No no no, I read it in a book! Don’t you have to be invited or something?!”

“WELL YES, TO THE HUMAN WORLD. BUT THIS IS NOT THE HUMAN WORLD AS YOUR THREE-DIMENSIONAL BRAIN PERCEIVES IT.”

“What the hell does that mean?!!”

“DID YOU NOT KNOW, NEIGHBOR STEVE? LEGALLY SPEAKING, ALL OF THE VASTNESS OF HUMAN SUBURBIA IS, IN FACT, A PART OF HELL.”

“……..”

“THE FLAMINGOES ARE THE BOUNDARY MARKERS. IT WAS DECIDED THAT THE FLAMING SKULLS WERE TOO KITSCHY FOR MODERN TIMES.”

 acaffeinejunkie

Reblogging cause I kind of want more of this….

 erinnightwalker

Since you asked nicely ^_^Antler Guy, as one may have noticed, is a calm sort of fellow. In the face of human atrocities he displays a curious Zen sort of state of mind. Timmy asks Son if he’d ever seen his dad angry, and Son hasn’t. (When asked, Timmy says that yeah his dad gets mad, but it’s like the Fitz-Simmon’s chihuahua down the street- mostly high-pitched noise and occasionally TV remote chewing. Sharon replaces the poor thing every 3 months or so.) When pressed (gently, at the monthly book club, and with many cups of tea and at least one daiquiri), Hellwife admits that this comes from serving many years at his old job.

After the revelation of the nature of his neighborhood, Steve has not been overtly mean to Antler Guy. Not yet in the realm of friends, but vastly better than before. No more holy water, no more shotgun blasts. (Still the occasional jumpscare, but Antler Guy really can’t help that part.) They even occasionally share news over the fence as Antler Guy trains the creeping deathshade vines in proper oral hygiene, and Steve waters his lawn (and occasionally slips a goldfish cracker to a deathshade vine that looks particularly adorable. Aubergine has trained him well.)

Which is how Antler Guy learns about the peeping tom that’s been plaguing the adjacent streets. Apparently the pervert has been getting bolder, and rattling doors. He almost broke into one apartment, whose occupants were a single mother and her daughter, Mildred. Millie, a shy girl who is a great horror fan and firm friends with Timmy and Son, had missed school because of it.

Steve knew because Sharon had told him, on her way to deliver a tuna casserole and a double batch of brownies to the pair. (Sharon has been dubbed the unoffical mob boss of the Mother’s Mafia. She is quite pleased with this title.) He tells her to wait, confers briefly with Aubergine, and sends her along with, “Only as a loan, you know, but Auby wants to stretch her roots and she’d probably like getting all ribboned and curled anyway. Little girls still do that, right?” She has strict orders to bite anyone that makes Millie or her mother cry. (Steve is dubbed the official neighborhood marshmallow for this. The bookclub buys him a jar of marshmallow fluff in commemoration.)

He turns to look at Antler Guy, and freezes, much as a chihuahua will when faced with a hungry hellhound.

“You….you alright there buddy?”

“Ň̵̴̫̫̙͙̻̞͈̫̥̪̱͈͈̯̍̀̀͆ͫ̒̿̄͗͘͡͝ͅO̊͑̑͒̎͑̃ͬͭͮ̅̔̆̃̉ͯ̇͗̀҉̵̻̜̞͉̟͙͚̻̪̼̖̀͟ͅ.̵͈̣͈̙̣̜̻̭̩̝̠̞͗ͤͥ̓͗ͬ̓̄͊̓̅̐ͩͮͧͤ̽̐ “

“Uh, yeah, I guess not. Did you, uh, know you’re kinda fuzzing at the edges, there?”

“Ň̵̴̫̫̙͙̻̞͈̫̥̪̱͈͈̯̍̀̀͆ͫ̒̿̄͗͘͡͝ͅO̊͑̑͒̎͑̃ͬͭͮ̅̔̆̃̉ͯ̇͗̀҉̵̻̜̞͉̟͙͚̻̪̼̖̀͟ͅ.̵͈̣͈̙̣̜̻̭̩̝̠̞͗ͤͥ̓͗ͬ̓̄͊̓̅̐ͩͮͧͤ̽̐ “

“Right. Um. Well.”

Steven makes a very ungraceful exit when space starts bending around Antler Guy’s still, unmoving form.

When Steve sees a shadowy form in his back yard when he gets up to pee that night, there’s no hesitation. He grabs the shotgun from the cabinet and peeks out the back door window.

Just in time to see a nebulous form of soul-wrenching terror engulf the man reaching for the door handle. A sliver of moonlight reveals a very familiar eyesocket. After a moment (and a sincere prayer of thanks that he had already peed, cause otherwise he’d have done it then and there) Steve opens the door. The nebulous form freezes, reality bending around the edges.

“Nice night for it, huh?”

“…..Y̮̮͍͔͇͙͙̟̐͌͛̓̏͞͡Eͩͭͮ̓̍ͯ̀ͧ͏̵̴̛̺̠̱͕̕ͅS͈̹̮̟̳̪̩̘͍̤̲̻͈̱̳̽̋́ͩ̃͋̎ͩ̈͆̀͘͢͢͟ͅ.̧̢͈̭̝̥̦͚͍̇ͫ̃̓͆̿̇ͪ͊ͧ̃͛͌͜͢ “

“Guy won’t scare anymore litttle girls, will he?”

“Ň̵̴̫̫̙͙̻̞͈̫̥̪̱͈͈̯̍̀̀͆ͫ̒̿̄͗͘͡͝ͅO̊͑̑͒̎͑̃ͬͭͮ̅̔̆̃̉ͯ̇͗̀҉̵̻̜̞͉̟͙͚̻̪̼̖̀͟ͅ.̵͈̣͈̙̣̜̻̭̩̝̠̞͗ͤͥ̓͗ͬ̓̄͊̓̅̐ͩͮͧͤ̽̐ “

“Good. G’night then. Oh, and if Hellwife has an extra Audrey Jr. that needs a home, let me know. Millie likes Aubergine a lot but Augy’s just too big for the apartment. Dunno if they come in miniatures though.”

“ I̴̛̟̭͉̮̜̩̬̮̣̘̰͚̩͙̟̳͔̜̙͑̂̆̆͗͒̀ ͖̖̰͉̥͖͔̙̤̺͍̳͈̹͙̣̞̇̇ͤ͒̅̈́͆̽ͧ́̚̚̕͘W̶̶̱͈̞͖̼̟̣̮̌͂͒̈́͑͌͒͋̍ͮ͗̈ͣ̓ͤ͘͟I̴̶̞̥̩͇̔ͩͦ̇̉̾ͣͬ̀̀̒͒ͧ͛͌͛͆̚͘͢ͅͅL̠̟͕̠̟̪̰̻ͯ͂͊ͥ̍̏͋̐ͬ̉̆̈̀͠L̸̞̭͔̮ͦ͑̉ͮͩ́ͬͨͣ͘͜.̴͈͎̮͇͓͖̱̻̣͊͊ͤͩ͊̑͗͞ ̸̡̩̖̞̩̻̩̪̭͙̳͚͇̟̺͖̑͊ͫ̀͆ͨ̉̔̓̂̓̋T̷̷̟͉̟̻̻̪̞̰̯̻͈̣̰̬̻̾͐́ͭ̓̅́͡H͇̬̪̩̬̝̣͍͈͇ͯ͛̏͌ͮͧͭͦ͟͜A̴̴̤͕͈̤̮̞̱̯͔͕̙͔͖̰̬̰͈̠ͥ̏ͥ̍̽ͧ̀͝N͗̓͋̃̈̑̀̅ͣ̽̒̂̄ͯͩͤ͏̢͢͏͈̯͎̪͇̟̠͔̯͓͓̰̠̱̠̳͕̳͝K̢̓ͧ͛͛ͣ̄̓̓ͯ̍̈̈́̌͂̔͟҉̛̘̥̖̤̦̻̳͙͟ ̢̢̻̥̹̣̞͉̘͇͚͍̖̯̘͚͔̗̩͓͐ͮ͂͂̀̚͘͠Y̜̞͇̳̗̬͎̰̙̜̩̪͎̞̙̠̔͂̌̃́̀O͇̺̲͙͍̬̳̘͈̱̜̝͔̖̊ͥ̿ͫͤͫͫͩ͋̓̃ͦ̈̄͢͟Ū̢͖̲̦̠̤͎̙͉̦͖̖͓͍̺̺ͪͯ͐͆͆ͭͯ͗ͦ̄̅̌̈̃̾ͭ̋ͧ͢͢͠͡.̶̸̞͓̞̹̗̻̣͈͕̠̬̦ͫ̆ͤͬͨͦ͒͂ͨ̿ͩͪ͘͞.ͧ͛̒̂̂͗ͨ̌͆ͥͭ͒̉͘͜͏̙͖̰̝̙̲͓̙͕͍̥̳̩́͠.̶̷̮͎̱̼̬͖̰͎͚͙̥̓͋͋ͦ̓̓ͯ͆͛̏ͫ̅ͯ.̨̧̙̤̳̮̺̙͖̞͔̗͎͍̑̆ͮ͐ͩͦ̌̽̾̏͘͠.̹̖͕̮͕̞̰͍͚͖̌ͪ̃̐̐̌̌̅̉͑ͧͪͪͬ̓͐́͛̿͘͞ ….NEIGHBOR STEVE.”

“Anytime.”

There are no more peeping reports. Millie brings back Aubergine and spends an entire afternoon teaching Steve the particulars of Augy’s new “hairstyle” (a gravity-defying mass of teased tendrils, ribbons, and barrettes) in between games of tag and hide-and-seek with Timmy and Son.

When Antler Guy and Hellwife present her and her mother Beatrice with a tiny Audrey Jr. (”pOOr ThinG Is a ruNT And wOn’T geT MorE Than A FooT taLL, BEa, aNd NeeDS a New FRiEnD”, assures Hellwife), both mother and child burst out crying. Millie names it Bella, after Bella Lugosi, and shows it to the excited group of boys (Steve and Augy included).

 ripped-up-jeans-and-glitter

IT GOT SO MUCH BETTER!!!!

 erinnightwalker
image

Life in a subdivision partly populated with eldritch and possibly magical (officially classified as “extra-dimensional”, for even when faced with the physics-defying nature of their new co-habitating citizens the government cannot bring itself to acknowledge them as “magic wielding hell-beasts”, as some high-ranking staff members initially suggested) goes on fairly normally.

Sure, there are a few hiccoughs. The creeping deathshade vines get a stern talking to about appropriate afternoon snacks (”NOT the Fitz-Simmon’s chihuahua, I don’t care how much he has it coming or what he excreted where, now spit it out!”), Aubergine sheds all her leaves at once and snowballs the house (but does helps sweep up afterwards), and moonrise is a good time to watch the night-gaunts fly by (but on moondark it’s best to stay inside, no matter how prettily they glow. They’re somewhat similar to fireflies, and don’t always check to see if their partner glows as well. It wouldn’t be as much of a problem if they didn’t dive mid-coitus and drop just above the ground.)

While the neighborhood in general is accepting of the Abominations, when things get to be a bit much they tend to come to Steve. Since meeting Beatrice and Millie (and the formation of the Terrifying Triad known as Millie, Son, and Timmy) Steve is the adult human male most comfortable dealing with Antler Guy on the whole street. (Sharon as U.M.B. is widely held to have, well, steel-whatever-the-hell-she-wants, and Timmy is known to run over to Antler Guy and ask for rides through “that wobbly grey place, you know, the one with the REALLY BIG alligators?”. Still, the courtesies must be observed.)

So when a writhing sparking ball of snarling terror and teeth takes up residence in the Manzo’s tool-shed, and when Animal Control refuses to come (the street is banned due to a run-in with the deathshade vines), Steve is called. Having heard the description, Steve brings Antler Guy.

When they get there, Mr. Manzo is forcibly holding the door shut. Unholy yowling is coming from inside. At a gesture from Antler Guy, Mr. Manzo leaps away, and the doors blast open.

A 150 pound ball of whimpering, flaming something hits Steve and knocks him on his ass. The whimpering, flaming something proceeds to slobber all over Steve, his shirt, his pants, and a decent portion of grass in between distressed yelps.

“GACK!”

“NEIGHBOR STEVE, ARE YOU IN DISTRESS?”

“GAAACKLEARGHSPLUH- DOWN boy, HEEL, that’s a good- Antler Guy, what is this?!”

“I BELIEVE IT IS A HELLHOUND, NEIGHBOR STEVE.”

“Good grief, I didn’t know they came this big and…..and….. Guy?”

“YES NEIGHBOR STEVE?”

“Is he supposed to be…..skinless?”

“YES NEIGHBOR STEVE. THIS VARIETY WAS BRED TO BE LAP DOGS. THEIR FLAME IS MOSTLY WITHOUT HEAT, AND THEY HAVE NO SKIN FOR THOSE WHO ARE ALLERGIC.”

“…….laPDOG?!”

“YES NEIGHBOR STEVE.” Antler Guy lays a hand on the hellhound, who tries to burrow further into Steve with little success. “HE APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN RECENTLY WEANED. IT WILL TAKE TIME FOR HIM TO GROW TO HIS FULL SIZE.”

“……”

“THE SMALL BREEDS GROW MORE SLOWLY.”

A vile hissing emanates from the shed. (Mr. Manzo has long since fled for the safety of his kitchen.) As Steve attempts to calm the frantic hell-puppy, Antler Guy investigates. He reaches one long hand in behind the riding lawnmower and….. winces.

“NEIGHBOR STEVE?”

“Yeah- I’m right here, uh, doggie, not going anywhere- Guy?”

“I APPEAR TO HAVE AN…. ATTACHMENT.”

Steve is awed at the tiny ball of white fluff attached to one long, thin finger. He didn’t know that Antler Guy’s fingers COULD be bitten, much less by a tiny kitten.

Which is how Steve and Sharon got Clifford (”Aww c’mon Sharon, how could I pass that one up?”), and Antler Guy and Hellwife get Fluffy (”NEIGHBOR STEVE ASSURES ME IT IS A TRADITIONAL TITLE.”)

 

*****

Earlier this year, Bill Maher, the comedian talk show host had a whole lot to say about people who read comic books, and like superhero movies. I’ve enjoyed comic books my whole life, and yes, it’s a way of keeping the wonder of my childhood with me always, but I never shirked any of my adult responsibilities to do so. So Miss Valente had to set his ass straight:

imageimageimageimageimageimage

*****

Here’s a thread I found very necessary, about how people who treat fat people like shit, aren’t interested in them losing weight, no matter how much they claim to give a fuck about their health. If they gave a damn about the health of fat people, then that person’s mental and emotional health would also be a factor, and I don’t see how traumatizing, bullying them, and causing emotional distress, is somehow supposed to help them. Miss Allison correctly states that fat-phobia is mostly helpful to making them feel good about themselves, at the expense of others.

Actually this is a truism across all power dynamics, and marginalized groups of people. The people vilifying marginalized people want to punish them, and make them suffer. They are not interested in people being equals or becoming treated in a less marginalized manner.

************

This tiny history on the creation of “Race”.

The racial categories that we’re familiar with developed only 200 years ago, primarily by England and Spain. Otherwise cut off from the rest of the world, England kept on invading Ireland, labeling the people as savages — in fact, the cruel saying “the only good Indian is a dead Indian” first circulated in England as “the only good Irishman is a dead Irishman.”

A little less than 2,000 miles away from England, Spain, loyal to the Catholic Church, was offering the Jewish and Muslim people under their rule three choices: “leave, convert, or die.” While many Jews and Muslims converted to Catholicism to escape persecution, church leaders questioned their sincerity, leading to the 1478 Spanish Inquisition, during which “interest in religious purity morphed into an obsession with blood purity,” as Matthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer write in Racial Domination, Racial Progress.

In both England and Spain during this time, nationalism and capitalism began to rise. To satisfy Europe’s growing sense of nationalism and hunger for capitalism, the Age of Discovery began — “or, from the standpoint of the indigenous people of Africa and the Americas, the ‘Age of Terrorism,’” write Desmond and Emirbayer. When Christopher Columbus “discovered America” — aka happened upon an island in the Bahamas that was already inhabited — the Americas were populated by approximately 50 million to 100 million indigenous people.

With Christopher Columbus’ lead, the Spanish colonized the Americas; the English followed a century later. From 1600 to 1900, 90 to 99 percent of America’s indigenous peoples died as a direct result of European colonization.

With the rise of nationalism, capitalism, and European discovery of the “New World” — which, again, was only “new” from a European perspective — a different worldview was desired to make sense of it all. Through colonialism, “race” became a key element of that worldview.

Whiteness remains the dominant category today — other races are compared and contrasted relative to it.

To further their capitalist interests in the “New World,” the English needed a labor force. So, indentured servitude started. Indentured servants were often kidnapped. They included Irish, impoverished English, indigenous, and African people. (Note how the English and Irish are identified as people from two separate nations, whereas indigenous and African people, all from different nations, are considered as two monoliths.)

Indentured servitude evolved into chattel slavery. Among all other indentured servants, why were Black people singled out to be enslaved? It couldn’t be Native Americans, because their numbers were reducing rapidly, they could escape their captors more easily since they were familiar with the land, and they were already relied upon as trappers in the lucrative fur trade business. It couldn’t be the “savage Irish” because, upon escaping, Irish slaves could “blend in” with their English captors.

Africans, however, could not blend in. Furthermore, Africans were not accustomed to the American landscape, making escape from captivity more difficult; they were also immune to Old World diseases, unlike Natives, and many were already farmers. Africans soon came to be seen as “the perfect slaves” and originally not strictly because of their Blackness.

Thus, Whiteness and Blackness were born: “twins birthed from the same womb, that of slavery,” write Desmond and Emirbayer. The White race began to be formed “out of a heterogeneous and motley collection of Europeans who had never before perceived that they had anything in common.”

Whiteness remains the dominant category today — other races are compared and contrasted relative to it. Whiteness positions itself against ideas of, among others, Blackness, Indigenousness, Asianness, and Hispanic-ness. This is why people of color, rather than White people, will frequently be identified by their race. Whiteness has become the norm.

 

Source:

************

Yeah, this was my reasoning behind why w should give the more disingenuous bigots exactly what they ask for and teach a  White History month, because I get tired of people asking this question every year in February, during Black History Month,, and then conveniently forgetting all  about it, come March.

************

Dr. Who said it himself: History has been Whitewashed!

Literally the only reason people think the past was all white is racism in Hollywood. All the images of the past that you think are accurate from TV shows & movies produced during Jim Crow are actually fictional representations of what racists wanted the world to be like instead of their reality.

That’s why you have people arguing that Egypt isn’t in Africa and that Cleopatra looked like Liz Taylor. That’s why you have period pieces set in London with none of the Black Victorians, Chinese sailors in Limehouse, or Jewish communities. That’s why you don’t see the drag balls that were common in New York, Chicago etc. You don’t even see the diversity of Roman citizens or the Moorish Empire. Next to nothing about women of color at any point in history, despite them being inventors, pioneers, and artists who changed the world.

Gee, it’s like media representation has an impact across time. Like, maybe producing media that isn’t inclusive contributes to ignorance, erasure, and perpetuating racist, sexist, homophobic propaganda. If you’re still producing these bland historically  inaccurate shows in 2015 that’s not about historical accuracy, that’s about your internalized bigotry. .

****************

This tweet can be summed up as :

“The salient fact of American politics is that there are fifty to seventy million voters each of whom will volunteer to live, with his family, in a cardboard box under an overpass, and cook sparrows on an old curtain rod, if someone would only guarantee that the black, gay, Hispanic, liberal, whatever, in the next box over doesn’t even have a curtain rod, or a sparrow to put on it.”

 

*************

This Is Virtue

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

 

Image result for statue of liberty crying

 

I was going to post an essay about movie landscapes or something, but this has been an emotionally harrowing week for everyone, and I just didn’t fee like it.

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