Most Hated Film Tropes

All movies have tropes, sometimes the use, misuse, and overturning of those tropes is what makes a movie worth watching, but they all have them, because that’s what usually determines the film’s genre, for example. Certain things have to occur for something to qualify as Horror, Fantasy, or a Western. I don’t have problem with tropes in general, but some things I am really, really, tired of seeing, or is a sign of lazy film writing.

 

The Magical Negro

A magical negro is usually a Black man or woman with some type of inexplicable superpower, (but sometimes not), who shows up to help the White protagonist deal with some problem they’re having in their life, often without reciprocation from the white protagonist. These magical people are never selfish, deciding  to help any nearby White people maximize their love lives, for example, rather than using their considerable powers to make their own lives better, or save themselves from harm.

Part of the reason this idea is so offensive to me, is not necessarily because the Black person has superpowers, but that they use those powers in service to White people, rather than relieving their own oppression (if they’re shown to have any backstory at all).  They don’t have families, they’re never seen around other Black people, they never discuss their own problems, they have no lives of their own.  Most of the time their origins are mysterious.

A classic example of this trope is John Coffey from The Green Mile, a giant Black man, with no past, and no future either, as he is sentenced to be executed for a crime he didn’t commit, yet nevertheless, spends much of the movie solving the problems of the white prison guards in his orbit, rather than trying to solve his own. I get that he is a Christ metaphor, but watching this movie is very distasteful for me.

Some other classic examples include Oda Mae from the movie Ghost (a Black character with no life or backstory of her own,  beyond helping the ghost of the white protagonist reunite with his wife) There are  movies where the trope is done so well, that I’ll give it a pass, like Red from Shawshank Redemption. A character that just manages to skirt by, with this trope, are Will Smith’s Hitch, as his being a love talker for hire is the entire point of the film and he gets an entire storyline devoted to his own love life.

But my least favorite character, in all of filmdom, is the character of Jezelle, from the movie Jeepers Creepers, a psychic nobody, who takes time out of her busy schedule of doing, we don’t know what,  to provide exposition and aid, to two White, twenty-something, strangers, who are being chased by the movie’s monster. Her only purpose in the movie,is to show up and psychically help these strangers, rather than use her abilities to keep herself safe from the monster. In fact, using her abilities brings her into direct interaction with the monster, in a way that would never have happened if she’d just stayed home, because her pronouncements don’t change their futures, and puts her life in danger.

 

 

 

The Black Guy Dies First

Its not so much that they die first, so much as they never make it to the end of any horror movie.

Black or any other characters from minorities are often said to be the first ones to die within horror films.[1] While it is not necessarily true that these characters die first, a larger percentage die at some point in the movie.[7] Complex did a survey of 50 horror films that starred black characters, finding that only 10% had black characters that died first in the film; however, a great deal of those characters still died at some point in the movies.[1] On top of their imminent death, these characters are also notably given a lack of character development, especially in comparison to white counterparts.[1] According to Valerie, in her breakdown of the development of black characters in horror, black characters stand a greater chance of survival if they are teamed with a white woman by the end, if the entire cast is black, or if the villain is a black person. However, Complex also reveals that black characters who survive the film almost certainly die if there is a sequel.

—– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism_in_horror_films

A great example overturning this trope is Tales From The Crypt: Demon Night, which stars two, totally bad ass, Black women, one of whom does not make it to the end to the film, (although she does go out like a BOSS), and Jada Pinkett, who  not only becomes the Final Girl, she also gets to be the hero, who defeats the monster. Examples of the first sort are far too numerous to mention. You can pretty much count every slasher movie made in the 80’s and 90’s.

Keep in mind, however, that Night of the Living Dead showed us that even if the Black person is the star of the movie, that is still no guarantee they will survive it.

My most hated version of this trope though, is the movie Logan, where an entire Black family gets introduced, only so they can be killed, a few minutes later. Now, I get that the point of their deaths is to illustrate that Wolverine is, very probably, one of the most toxic characters in Marvel history. Death follows him around like a lapdog, so much so, that anyone who interacts with him, on even the most superficial level, will meet with a quick, and pointless death. If not by him, then through someone associated with his sordid past. In fact, everybody in this movie dies, from the Mexican gangbangers at the beginning of the film, to Charles Xavier, to Laura’s surrogate mother, and Logan himself.

In fact,  Logan is full of dead  PoC, solely because they had some kind of interaction with Wolverine, whether benign or negative.

*Sigh*

Movin’ on…

 

CPR Only Works When You Shout At the Recipient

Gob, I hate this one!

I absolutely hate this trope. I have always hated this trope. Its a stupid trope, meant to create a false feeling of suspense, when a major character dies onscreen. Its often used wrong anyway. CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) is not even meant to bring someone back to life. You don’t just give a person CPR and they wake up and start breathing, as if they just had a nightmare. It’s also meant to last longer than the couple of minutes they show you onscreen. You are not simply restarting a person’s heart. You are doing the job of the heart by keeping their blood circulating, so that the brain continues to receive oxygen, thereby lessening brain damage, until the heart can be restarted.

In Movieland, if CPR isn’t working but dammit-you’re-not-gonna-lose-them you can always just start hammering your fist into their chest. Preferably whilst shouting. This is called a precordial thump and should only be performed once by a highly trained medical professional in front of witnesses when there are no other alternatives – any other time and you’re just giving a corpse a beating.

          ———  https://whatculture.com/offbeat/11-common-movie-tropes-that-would-actually-ruin-your-life?page=4

And screaming epithets has never worked on an unconscious person. That’s just ass-stupid.

I really hate this trope!

 

 

The White Savior

https://shadowandmovies.com/what-is-the-white-savior-trope-green-book/

This is probably the most irksome trope for PoC, because it’s literally everywhere, but now so much has been written about this, in the past five years, that it has actually become a part of everyday film criticism, whereas before it was something only recognized by a handful of people.

 

My most hated version of this trope, and the first time I truly noticed it, was when Mississippi Burning was released, in the 90s. The movie starred Willem Defoe and Gene Hackman, and I hated, hated, hated that movie. It is a classic White Savior film. I hated it because its such a blatant piece of utter bullshit, because it is very well documented what the FBI got up to during the Civil Rights Era, demonizing and interrogating the intentions of MLK, and the protesters (COINTELPRO). MB centers two White FBI agents in the middle of a story about Black people fighting for their rights. Everything about the movie is just wrong. its the Green Book of the 80s.

For a full list of resources see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COINTELPRO#U.S._government_reports

Now the definition has evolved to include any heroic white character in movies dealing with Black oppression, or during slavery, which slotted a whole new group of movies into the White savior category.

 

Image result for white savior gifs

List of Associated films:

12 Years a Slave Hidden Figures, Avatar, Blind Side, Gran Torino, The Matrix

 

 

The Sissy Villain

Yes, the image below takes place in a children’s cartoon, and depicts not only the Sissy Villain, but sexual assault by an animal like, predatory, gay coded (creature?). The Sissy Villain isn’t always this bad, but GOOD LORD! This was in a children’s cartoon! There are, on occasion, good depictions of this trope, like Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid, who was based on the transgender actress Divine, and the cross dressing Dr. Frank N’ Furter, from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, who is beloved by audiences.

Where this trope is especially insidious though, is in children’s cartoons, like Scar, in the lion King, and Him, (the above character), from the Powerpuff Girls. But this type of villain is also spotted in movies with British villains, where the villain not only has a British accent, but is succinctly spoken, sometimes with effete mannerisms, as in the movies, The Patriot, Die Hard, and  Skyfall. The Sissy Villain has a  strong homophobic element involved in their depiction, as they are often contrasted against the manly, masculine heroes.

They can be found in far too many historical, and action films, basically, wherever the manly hero is found. Sometimes the Sissy Villain is shown as predatory, and  a way to make the villain seem even more evil, such as Jame Gumb in Silence of the Lambs, and Jack Randall from Outlander, who is not only the villain, but  a rapist. Actually,  whenever it seems Hollywood needs a villain, who is predatory, deceptive, and shady, they  just code them as gay, (and often British).

 

 

 

 Cop’s Nagging Wife/ Wet Blanket Wife

Actually there are several different versions of the Wet Blanket Wife, but I want to focus on a very specific version of her. The Wet Blanket Wife, is always ready to sacrifice other people’s lives, so her husband/boyfriend/significant other, can stay home with the kids, or go to one of their children’ s musical recitals, or have a dinner party.

A perfect example of this is the scene in The Incredibles, where Frozone’s wife insists that he is going to ruin their evening, if he goes out to engage in superheroics. Don’t take this the wrong way, the scene is still very funny, but hiding inside it is the insidious trope of the Wet Blanket Wife, who  seems more concerned with their dinner party, than the lives of the citizens being endangered by the movie’s villain.

Or take the movie Red Dragon, where the Wet Blanket Wife’s complaints are ostensibly legitimate. After all, Will Graham nearly lost his life while doing his job, as a criminal profiler. She wants him to stay home, and not endanger his life by going back to his job profiling the latest serial killer, that’s destroying whole families. On the surface I get it, but the way its framed in the movie, makes her whiny and unlikable, and  completely uncaring of the deaths of the victims.

The Wet Blanket Wife lives in cop films, however. She can be found wherever a police officer, or detective has been accused of neglecting his family because he loves his job too much, or not coming up with the alimony for that month, or just never being there for her. and the kids. This trope was famously lampooned in the movie Hot Fuzz, but takes place in far too many other action movies involving detectives.

 

 

White Women are Virgins/Women of Color are Whores

At the same time, our American culture has a long history of sexualizing women of color and holding up white women as paragons of sexual purity. Women of color are lower than pure-minded white women: spicy, sexually imaginative, animalistic. Although it’s natural to desire the superior white woman sexually, only white men are good enough for her, and they must spend their manhood proving their worth. This mindset lingers in our collective unconscious and is expressed in myriad ways. It gets a lot more nuanced than that, so I’d encourage those of you who haven’t to read up on this.

          ——– https://thenerdsofcolor.org/2016/04/08/white-virginwhore-of-color-daredevilproblems/

The above definition says everything I wanted to say about this trope. This trope can very easily be found in the TV series Daredevil, on Netflix, where the oversexualized, and violent Elektra, whom Matt is very attracted to, is contrasted against the blonde, and innocent looking, Karen Page, who is so pure that he feels unworthy to be with her, and who must be protected from harm. Note, that Elektra receives no such masculine protection.

This trope can also be found in the first season of HBO’s Westworld, but to a purpose. Maeve, a Black woman who owns a brothel, is portrayed as sexy and sassy, while her compatriot Dolores, is at first set up as pure and virginal. She is the kind of female character who is protected by white men, while Maeve is the type that is exploited.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/westworld-analysis-dolores-and-maeve/

 

The Faux – Medieval World Settings

Yeah, this one is especially tired.

No matter where in the world these stories are set, or how much worldbuilding a creator may work really hard to put into their work, the end result always appears to be set during Medieval times, with that level of technology. There’s always taverns, beer, wenches, and sword fighting. In some cases, sometimes the wheel has not even been invented! Its not that it matches any particular country or even government system, so much as it looks vaguely like Feudalism, with its associated social hierarchy. I call these, Lord of the Rings ripoffs.

As I mentioned  in an earlier post, I didn’t find my way into Fantasy through the usual channels. I started out reading Horror, than switched to Scifi , and eventually made my way to Urban Fantasy, so I don’t have the same level of reverence for LOTR, that other people do, and frankly, I found all the hype for these types of stories to be deeply tiresome. I don’t hate the genre, (I enjoy the films), but I have no patience for High Fantasy dramas most of the time, and even when I do come across something I like, there’s not as much emotional engagement in it for me. High Fantasy set in other countries (Japan, the Phillipines, Africa) don’t bother me though.

Things to Ponder – Black Lives Matter Edition

Anti-Blackness permeates every single industry in America, and its about time that many of these industries started asking themselves serious questions about how deep the racism goes, holding their employees accountable for racist actions, and how these industries can do better in the future.

Law enforcement everyone  knows about, but anti- Blackness goes wherever white people congregate. Racism is both systemic and individual, because the individual white people, who make up these systems, refuse to reckon with it, to examine it in themselves, and keep trying to ignore, erase, or run away from its symptoms.

 

Law Enforcement

Serpico on Police Racism: ‘We Have This Virus Among Us’

NYPD Frank Serpico GIF - NYPD FrankSerpico SeriouslyThough ...

https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/06/11/george-floyd-protests-serpico-police-racism-good-cop/

Nearly half a century ago, Frank Serpico became a household name in the United States—and in many countries around the world—after he was portrayed by Al Pacino in the classic 1973 movie Serpico. The award-winning film told the true-life story of the New York City detective’s efforts to expose corruption and abuse inside the police department.

 

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Education

The banality of racism in education

Racism high school History education poc race Reverse racism ...

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2020/06/04/the-banality-of-racism-in-education/

We asked, “How much of the difference in test scores between white students and Black students can be explained by discrimination against Blacks or injustices in society?”

 

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Music

The Music Industry Was Built on Racism. Changing It Will Take More Than Donations

Childish Gambino's 'This is America' video is a beautiful nightmare

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/music-industry-racism-1010001/

Amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, record labels decided to use Tuesday for a rare industry-wide reckoning. Two related conversations have unfolded in parallel. First, can the music industry use its vast resources and wide influence to help reduce police brutality and combat systemic racism? Second, can the music industry finally face down its own history of racism and build a more equitable future?

 

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Film

Institutional racism in the film industry: a multilevel perspective

internalized racism gifs | WiffleGif

https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/EDI-05-2017-0108/full/html

The findings highlight how power structures, network-based recruitment practices, as well as formal and informal learning lead to and sustain racism in the film industry. However, agency on an individual level is observed as a way to break those patterns.

 

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Publishing

Over 1,000 Publishing Workers Strike to Protest Industry Racism

Author of social media post called out as 'racist' claims post ...

https://www.vulture.com/2020/06/publishing-strike-racism-book-industry.html

The publishing industry is standing against systemic racism today by striking, donating money, and serving the black community. Over 1,300 workers have committed to taking the day off and using it to “protest, donate a day’s pay, phone-bank, join in mutual aid efforts, and work only on books by Black creators,” according to a statement shared with Vulture and cosigned by five Macmillan workers 

 

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Banking

This Is What Racism Sounds Like in the Banking Industry

You’re bigger than the average person, period. And you’re also an African-American,” the employee, Charles Belton, who is black, told Mr. Kennedy. “We’re in Arizona. I don’t have to tell you about what the demographics are in Arizona. They don’t see people like you a lot.” Mr. Kennedy recorded the conversation and shared it with The New York Times.

 

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Technology

Black Tech Employees Continue to Face Workplace Racism

How UMBC Got Minority Students to Stick with STEM - The Atlantic

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/global-and-cultural-effectiveness/pages/black-tech-employees-continue-to-face-workplace-racism.aspx

Miley says a fellow Google employee—who was not security personnel—raced in front of him and physically stopped him, demanding to see Miley’s badge.  It wasn’t the first time that a colleague had body blocked Miley when he was trying to go to work. 

 

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Retail

Claims of Racism at Zara Portray the Retail Industry at Its Worst

Racism GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

https://populardemocracy.org/news-and-publications/claims-racism-zara-portray-retail-industry-its-worst

This week a new report casts a spotlight on employment discrimination at a particular retailer: Zara, a fairly new clothing chain in the United States which nevertheless is part of the world’s largest fashion retail company. Based on interviews of 251 Zara employees in New York City, researchers at the Center for Popular Democracy uncovered troubling pattern of concerns about racial discrimination.

 

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Travel

Three First Steps Toward an Anti-Racist Travel Industry, as Told by a Black Editor

How the Travel Industry Can Do Its Part in the Fight Against ...

https://www.heremagazine.com/articles/anti-racism-travel-industry

As the travel and hospitality industry works to become anti-racist, one Here editor (and Black traveler) lays out three steps industry leaders can take on the road to diversity and inclusion.

 

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Medicine

Racism In Medicine Isn’t An Abstract Notion. It’s Happening All Around Us, Every Day

Clinicians Push Back on Racism in Medicine | MedPage Today

https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2020/06/12/anti-racism-in-medicine-hospitals-ayotomiwa-ojo

Racism is part of my daily experience, even as a medical student rotating through the teaching hospitals of Harvard Medical School. The health care system is one sector within the larger framework of white supremacy embedded in American society. 

 

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Environmental

Coronavirus Death Rates Are a Direct Result of Environmental Racism

Capitalism, environmental racism and resistance | socialist.ca

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/k7ev93/coronavirus-death-rates-environmental-racism

Along with other forms of systemic inequality, environmental racism can cause many of the underlying conditions that make the virus particularly dangerous for black and brown communities.

 

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Theater

Four Black Artists on How Racism Corrodes the Theater World

Playwrights are calling out racism in American theater - Los ...

A playwright, a director, an artistic director and an actor share their experiences — and prescriptions for change.

What has been the impact of race, and racism, on African-Americans working in the theater world? How should that world change? Those questions have taken on renewed, impassioned life since the killing of George Floyd, the shooting deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and the nationwide protests over racial injustice that have followed.

 

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STEM

Thousands of Scientists Go on Strike to Protest Systemic Racism in STEM

ShutDownSTEM Initiative Sees Scientists Work on Racism, Not Research

https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/national-international/thousands-of-scientists-go-on-strike-to-protest-systemic-racism-in-stem/2285866/

More than 5,000 scientists and two prominent scientific journals shut down operations and pledged to use the day to address racial inequalities in science

 

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Music

Rewriting Country Music’s Racist History

Accidentally Racist? The Confederate Flag in Country Music

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-country/country-music-racist-history-1010052/?src=longreads

This is kind of impressive. In 2020, audiences are so used to genres blending into one another, used to having no borders in music. But the image of what country music is persists. It does not matter how many variations of country abound — it’s somehow easier to reduce country to a single dimension. And with that comes along an image of who listens to the music. And more important, who makes it.

 

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Social Class

How White Women Use Themselves as Instruments of Terror

There are too many noosed necks, charred bodies and drowned souls for them to deny knowing precisely what they are doing.

 

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Writing

Romance Writers of America aims for happy end to racism row with new prize

If the Romance Writers of America can implode over racism, no ...

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/may/22/romance-writers-of-america-racism-row-new-prize-ritas-vivian

The RWA has been at the centre of an acrimonious debate about diversity, criticised for the paucity of writers of colour shortlisted for its major awards, the Ritas, as well as its treatment of Courtney Milan after she called a fellow author’s book a “racist mess” because of its depictions of Chinese women.

 

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Fiber Arts

Racism In the Knitting Community

Kristy Glass is a knitting YouTuber that I follow and she posts videos every single day. Her newest video popped into my feed. She was seated with three African American ladies and a man. They were all talking about how someone in the knitting community had posted a racist image on Instagram and what they felt about it.

[Stitch Talks Ish] Episode 6: When Black Lives Matter, But Black Opinions Don’t — Stitch’s Media Mix

https://open.spotify.com/embed-podcast/episode/5CBPIUHdMn24myb30Cvp2k

They’ve bought the books. they own White Fragility. They share their few friends of colors’ GoFundMe ease and cashapps. They really do care about racism in the abstract. And of course, they definitely don’t want Black people being killed because we’re Black, but they also don’t really care about us as people.

via [Stitch Talks Ish] Episode 6: When Black Lives Matter, But Black Opinions Don’t — Stitch’s Media Mix

 

Here, Stitic h talks about what its like to be subjected to anit-Black racism from people hashtagging Black Lives Matter.

I know I’ll be very glad when this “trend” of saying Black Lives Matter is over, so I won’t have to be subjected  to any more “white noise” from people who only want brownie points for recognizing they’re sitting in the middle of a trend.

There are far too many people out there hashtagging  BLM, while they commit the same anti-Black behavior that helped cause the trend! How the f*ck does someone sit with themselves like that? Or not recognize the sheer batshittery of trolling and harassing Black creators, with racial slurs, while hashtagging BLM?

Ahhhhh!!! Tumblr!

Here are some interesting tidbits from Tumblr. I hope these are  informative.

Writing with Color is a great resource for writers who want to create characters of color with depth, and avoid stereotyping.
writingwithcolor
just-an-observer-ignore-me asked:

I was wondering what kind of female black characters do people want to see more of? Like, them being soft or selfish?

writingwithcolor answered:

Black Girls & Women: Representation We Want

As a Black woman reader, I definitely want to see more soft Black girls and women in literature. Girls with their own self-interests (caring about oneself isn’t necessarily selfish) and not always someone else’s caregiver is great too.

Here’s my list!

More Black girls…

  • In love
  • With close family bonds and healthy relationships and support systems (that don’t require enduring abuse, fixing their partner, or overall emotional labor to earn domestic happiness)
  • Being protected
  • As main characters, heroines and anti-heroes
  • On adventures
  • In fantasy and magical settings
  • In historical settings as peasants, upper-class society, and royalty
  • Descriptions of Black Afro hair, skin, features as a normal thing in books (see this compilation) and not in an Othering way
  • On the other hand, vibrant, sometimes hyped up descriptions that allude to their beauty (see this ask. Or this one). Not Othering, just appreciating!
  • Put us in fancy dresses and give us a sword and let us dance at the balls and have admirers!
  • Experiencing complex emotions not necessarily in reaction to racism or racist violence
  • On the book cover! And with an accurate, not light or white-washed model

~Mod Colette

Responses:

@madamef-er

  • Soft black girls and nerd girls who like cute things.
  • Shy black girls not just in situations with boys.
  • More lgbtqia+ black girls. Studs! Femmes!
  • Gender fluid and non conforming constantly changing their style because they like it!
  • Spies and not just as the ‘sexy bait’ or ‘weapons master’ let us sit behind the computer for once and be hackers and stuff

@tanlefan

  • Black girls who are just…people.
  • I want a fantasy escapism adventure that isn’t a thinly veiled discussion on slavery or racism or any other aspect of The Struggle. I am tired.
  • Can I just have a happy Black girl who believes in fairies or something?

@esmeraldanacho-1776 More autistic Black women/girls! I don’t care what genre really; just have them in there!

@briarsthicket And enby black people!

  • Def soft black girls.
  • Energetic and playful.
  • Or shy and quiet.
  • I want to see more black girls who are nerds and not just mommy mommying or nanny nannying everyone.
  • I want black girls who want to be a ballerina, or a talk show host, or a game designer etc.
  • I want a black girl who gets to be happy.
  • Who doesn’t have to act older than she is and be the shoulder for everyone, always.

@xiiishadesofgrey

  • I want more black lady nerds, if we’re talking modern settings!
  • More black ladies who have a sporty/playful nature!
  • Who aren’t afraid to get dirty and make chaos, without being dirty or frowned upon!
  • Strange as it sounds coming from me, more black princesses! Brandy as Cinderella in the 90s was my first Cinderella, and I LOVE that.
  • Please, god, more black wlws.

@daintythoughtswritersblock

  • I want to see tropes exercised
  • Black women of all shades and tones

@hazelnut4370

  • Tbh just fellow black people being happy, like I rarely see that,
  • Or enjoying hobbies

rivergoddessdream

  • Happily childless black women
  • Black women traveling the world
  • Fat black women in happy, healthy, poly relationships
  • Black cis and trans women having a true sisterhood
  • Autistic black women
  • Black women in period pieces that aren’t about slavery and don’t take place in the US
  • Black women thespians
  • Black women painters
  • Black women revolutionaries
  • Black women front and center in the narrative
  • Black women healers and storytellers
  • Non christian Black women stories
  • Black women rockers

#complicated black women characters #tell those stories

More Black Girls…

  • With diverse cultural and social backgrounds!
  • That are nerdy, girly, intelligent, ditzy, all the personality types that white girls in literature get!
  • That are fragile, shy or anxious. Almost every single black woman I’ve seen in media or otherwise are wise and adult. Let us be an absolute wreck, or an anxious mess!
  • In science! Characters like Shuri, Moon Girl and Iron Heart in Marvel revitalized me, cuz young black girls only get two types. Both these girls are in intellectual and in science, but have bery different personalities.
  • In interracial relationships, and not because they hate black men or something along those lines. They just happen to be dating outside their race, black women get hate for that in real life and it’s unfair. Let us have relationships outside our race! That said…
  • In platonic relationships with black men! I think that’s important, cuz I don’t often seen black solidarity unless it’s for the purpose of showing how diverse the writing is. Let them share interests, daily frustrations that they would only understand, but don’t force a romance.
  • In solid friendships with other black girls! For some reason, we’re pitted against in each other inside and outside of writing! Write some sweet wholesome friendship!
  • With different sexualities! Let there be some that are ace, others are gay, bi or pan! Just be sure you don’t sexualize them, or turn em into a robot.
  • •Who are dark-skinned! This can be seen a lot in tv or movies, but when you want a black girl in your stuff don’t just hire a light-skinned black girl or a biracial black girl. It’s not the same.
  • Who get to act their age! Black women have a long standing history of being adultified, starting from a very young age, and it’s extremely harmful. Little black girls can wear what they please, the problem is people sexualizing them. Let the teen black girl be a teenager, she can look out for her siblings but she isn’t the keepern the house or their lives. Young adult black girls are not ideal housewives or capable working machines, they mess up and mess around just as much as any young adult.
  • With mental/physical disabilities or illnesses.Alongside with being forced to be more mature than they are, disabilities/illnesses are never taken seriously and we’re forced to just deal with it. Having black girls who happen to have these issues, but also have a healthy support group is always good!
  • Seen as beautiful and desirable and NOT in a hypersexualized way
  • Interracial relationships are wonderful because black girls are beautiful and lbr everybody sees it
  • Sensitive and allowed to feel something other than righteous anger
  • Some black girls are skinny! Some are big! Some are slim and some are curvy! There’s no mold!
  • Dark skinned!
  • A YA protagonist out to save the world from something other than racism
  • Superpowers or magic that doesn’t come from generational trauma or slavery
  • Black characters who support other black characters. None of this token crabs in a barrel business.
  • Black girl nerds and punks and goths exist. I promise.
  • And this may be a personal preference but I’m not against the idea of a damsel in distress. We are always being strong. Let her be soft and delicate and cared for. Let her be princess carried and rescued from the tower and the dragon.

[Note from Mod: It’s not just you! I love a Black damsel being saved and protected. What is progressive for one woman varies due to historical and present depictions and is why intersectionality in feminism is so important! -Colette]

As a writer, I write a lot of my black female characters like this because I rarely ever see black women being represented in these ways! ESPECIALLY on the covers of books, unless the author themselves is a black woman and even then its rare.

Too often black women are stereotyped as strong protector types that are always rough, tough, and don’t need anybody in books (and real life), when that’s honestly just dumb and inaccurate–black women are as vulnerable as anyone else (in some cases, even more vulnerable, but that’s another topic).

So yeah, this list is 100% accurate and I encourage those who are interested in writing black female characters (whether you’re a black woman or not) to consider writing them like this, because the stereotype needs to die lol.

 

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A lot of people are talking about Racism these days. Here are some pointed and relevant rebuttals, facts, and figures, for people who want to argue with you about the subject.

Visit: alwaysanoriginal at the link, to continue reading the rest.

Image

We’re all having “hard conversations” about racism, police brutality, and #BlackLivesMatter I hope.

You’ve probably noticed that detractors often use the same “racist talking points” in response. Here’s a researched and sourced guide to help you answer, for the times you may get stuck.

Feel free to save these images and share them!

 

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A litany of the dead:
writingaboutmyrapists

#Say Her Name

Korryn Gaines

Renisha McBride

Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley-Jones

Miriam Carey

Messy Mya

Sandra Bland

Shelly Frey

Shelley Amos

Cheryl Blount-Burton

Dawn Cameron

Sandra Bee Wilson

Juliette Alexander

Alberta Spruill

Latanya Haggerty

Annette Green

Lenties White

Tameka Evette Anthony

Octavia Suydan

Andrena Kitt

Marcella Byrd

Emma Mae Horton

Angel Chiwengo

Guanda Denise Turner

Andrea Nicole Reedy

U’Kendra Johnson

Annie Holiday

Shonda Mikelson

LaVeta Jackson

Mary Williams

Tesha Reena Collins

Darneisha Harris

Nuwnah Laroche

Clanesha Rayuna Shaqwanda Hickmon

Ciara Lee

Dijon Senay Jackson

Denise Michelle Washinton

Keara Crowder

Tyra Hunter

Clara Fay Morris

Stacey Blount

Tanisha Anderson

Gabriella Monique Nevarez

Keisha Redding

Kendra Diggs

Laquisha Turner

Keoshia L. Hill

Kindra Chapman

Audwyn Fitzgerald Ball

Rosette Samuel

Makiah Jackson

Demetria Dorsey

Jameela Yasmeen Arshad

Joyce Quaweay

Mariah Woods

Jameela Cecila Barnette

Raynetta Turner

Bianca Davis

Patricia Hartley

Martha Regina Donald

Eulia Love

Sophia King

Joyce Curnell

Redel Jones

Tessa “Teesee” Hardeman

Tamara Seidle

Alicia Griffin

Shulena Weldon

Gina Rosario

Remedy Smith

Emily Marie Delafield

Jacqueline Culp

Delois Epps

Jacqueline Nichols

Queniya Tykia Shelton

Latoya Smith

Jacqueline Reynolds

Makayla Ross

LaTricka Sloan

Ralkina Jones

Elaine Coleman

Iretha Lilly

Gynnya McMillen

Malissa Williams

Janisha Fonville

Mya Hall

Patricia Thompson

Michelle Cusseaux

Janet Wilson

Latandra Ellington

Aubrey Zoe Brown

Terry Pittman

Carulus Hines

Lana Morris

Dominique Hurtt

Michelle “Vash” Payne

Tiffini Kuuipo Tobe

Yvette Henderson

Tameka Huston

Leronda Sweatt

Kisha Michael

Portia Southern

Kisha Arrone

Jessica Williams

Jessica Nelson-Williams

Vernicia Woodward

Alexia Christian

Tyisha Miller

Kourtney Hahn

Lamia Beard

Tarkia Wilson

Deshanda “Ta-Ta” Sanchez

Sharon Rebecca McDowell

Ricky Shawatza Hall

Glenda Moore

Danette Daniels

Shontel Edwards

Sharmel Edwards

Lashonda Ruth Belk

Zoraida Reyes

Natasha Renee Osby

Kathryn Johnson

Rekha Kalawattie Budhai

Natasha McKenna

Shontel Davis

Nizah Morris

Duanna Johnson

Asia Roundtree

Darnisha Harris

Shereese Francis

Alesia Thomas

Tracy A. Wade

Yvette Smith

Lnaaar Edwards

Gabrielle Lane

Varez Michelle Cusseaux

Taneisha Anderson

Aura Rosser

Raynette Turner

Tarika Wilson

Eleanor Bumpurs

Kendra James

Ahjah Dixon

Shantel Davis

Alberta Pruill

Marjorie Domingue

Bessie Louise Stovall

Margaret Mitchell

Darnesha Harris

Frankie Perkins

Monique Deckard

Kayla Moore

Queonna Zophia Edmonds

Sheneque Proctor

Kyam Livingston

Wanda Jean Allen

Kimberly McCarthy

Meagan Hockaday

Litvishma Millerr

Summer Marie Lane

Antoinette Griffin

Desseria Whitmore

Adebusola Tairu

Erica Stevenson

Halley Simone Lee

Erika Tyrone or Erica Rhena Tyrone

Lanaka Lucas

Breeonna Mobley

Antonia Martines Lagares

Delicia C. Myers

Tameika Carter

Dana Larkin

Kassandra Perkins

Rekia Boyd

Stacey Wright

Dorothy Smith Wright

BreeAnne Green

Adaisha Miller

Bettie Jones

Catrell Ford

India Kager

Deresha Armstrong

Chanda White (Pickney)

Sahlah Ridgeway

Marlene Rivera

Lashondria Rice

Brandy Martell

Marquesha McMillan

India Beaty

Chandra Weaver

Teikeia Dorsey

Deanna Cook Patrick

Ashley Sinclair

Zella Ziona

Tiara Thomas

Papi Edwards

India Clarke

Constance Graham

Shade Schurer

Erica Collins

Rosann Miller

Lonfon Chanel

Sonji Taylor

Malaika Brooks

Ashton O’Hara

Vida DeShondrell Byrd

Maria Tripp

Eveline Barros-Cepeda

Rosa Flores Lopez

Sarah Ann Riggins

Ty Underwood

Yazmin Vash Payne

Kandis Capri

Elisha Walker

Keonna Redmond

Rikessa La’Shae Lee

Charquissa Johnson

Fatou-Mata Ntiamoah

MOVE bombing victims

Kristina Grant Infiniti

Ariel Levy

Yolanda Thomas

Marquita Bosley

Barbara Lassere

Taja Gabrielle DeJesus

Tamara Dominguez

Vionique Valnord

Linda Yancey

Amber Monroe

Brianna Elaine Carmina Ford

Kendrinka T. Williams

Arabella Bradford

Loretta Gerard

Hanna Abukar

Talana Salissa Cain

Diane Kemp

Amber Nashay Carter

Pearlie Golden

Brenda Williams

Catawaba Tequila Howard

Beverly Kirk

Tamu Malika Bouldin

Denise Gay

Anita Gay

Laura Felder

Alice Faye DeFlanders Clausell

Uteva Monique Woods Wilson

Marnell Robertson Villarreal

K.C. Haggard

Derrinesha Clay

Milinda Clark

Angela Beatrice Randolph

Denise Nicole Glasco

Mercedes Williamson

Dominique Battle

Demetra Boyd

Francine Sonnier

Angelique Styles

Linda Joyce Friday

Shari Bethel Cartmell

Ashaunti Butler

Laniya Miller

Breonna Taylor

 

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What its like for Black women fans who look at fandom through a race critical lens:
eshusplayground

Fandom is toxic to fans of color, especially Black women

TRIGGER WARNING: Mass shootings.

On another post I’m not going to link to, someone commented that people hate Kylo Ren because he’s a white dude and asked if that would still be the case if he were a woman of color.

This person seemed genuinely curious, so I did my best to briefly put that reaction to his character into a broader social and political context. Namely, that whether deliberately or not, Kylo Ren, as a character, exhibits traits analogous to mass shooters, and people may be responding to that because of the scars that mass shootings have left on the collective American psyche.

I also mentioned how we unfortunately live in a world where white male mass shooters are treated better than Black people murdered by cops and white men with guns, and people who would be targeted by the “typical” mass shooter (entitled, pissed off white males with alt-right/neo-fascist/white nationalist leanings) may find Kylo Ren particularly repulsive.

What the hell did I say that for?

You’d have thought that I said, “If you like Kylo Ren, you’re a horrible piece of shit, and you need to be locked up or executed.”

Which I didn’t, BTW. I have better things to do than shit on people for enjoying a fictional character. Like picking my nose.

Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m surprised. I’ve seen it all before.

This sort of thing inevitably crops up whenever fans of color attempt to address the larger social and political context of media and fandom. Almost without fail, someone will respond as if we said, “You’re a terrible person if you like this character, ship, or work of art.”

Unless you’re talking about outright bigoted propaganda like Birth of A Nation or Triumph of the Will, I rarely see fans of color say that. I have seen fans of color be sharply critical of behaviors some fans engage in. I have seen fans of color urge fans to be mindful of how they consume media and how they participate in fandom. I have seen fans of color attempt to add depth and nuance to the way fandom addresses race. I have seen fans of color apply the framework of intersectionality to better understand media and fandom. I have seen fans of color warn each other about fandom environments toxic to people of color.

But straight-up hating on fans who like something they don’t? Not really. I’ve seen fans of color, especially Black women, get labeled as haters and antis because they do the things I mentioned up there. I’ve seen fans of color, especially Black women, get accused of hating fans who like a certain character, ship or piece of media because they examine characters, ships and media from a social and political context different from the fandom norm. I’ve seen fans of color, especially Black women, get labeled as hostile, angry or mean because they didn’t code-switch thoroughly enough.

Most of the time when we catch this kind of flack from fandom, nobody sticks up for us. Nobody assures us that we’re valid. Nobody comforts us. At best, there might be a handful of women of color in the same fandom who see what’s going on and speak up. But the vast majority of the time, we’re on our own.

It’s painful and exhausting.

So where does this leave fans of color, especially Black women? It seems there are only a few choices if we don’t want to constantly deal with all that:

  1. Remain silent or stick to “safe” topics
  2. Keep to a small circle of other fans of color
  3. Leave the fandom

Many fans of color, especially Black women, just fucking leave. If somebody’s always going to get bent out of shape when a fan of color brings a teensy bit of BIPOC realness to the fandom experience, that’s not a place that’s healthy for fans of color to be.

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A list of articles and books discussing racial topics:
urcadelimabean

As white people, we can’t begin to eradicate our internalized biases without knowing how to identify them. Let’s educate ourselves. And don’t forget that these are biases you need to call out when you see them in others as well.

Understanding Implicit Bias (article)

Stereotypes of African Americans (wikipedia): do the work to understand the links between old incredibly harmful stereotypes and modern white expectation that Black people be caretakers, for example.

Black people are not here to teach you: What so many white Americans just can’t grasp (article)

The White Internet’s Love Affair with Digital Blackface (video)

Dismantling Whiteness as the Beauty Standard (article)

I don’t care if you’re ‘fascinated’ by my afro, stop touching it (article)

Racial empathy gap: people don’t perceive pain in other races. (article)

Read about how scientific racism was used to institutionalize racism and justify slavery and white supremacy in the United States by claiming that enslaved people could withstand more pain.

Connect this to Black people today being denied the same medical treatment as whites: Some medical students still think black patients feel less pain than whites (article)

Let’s End The ‘Strong Black Woman’ Stereotype. Can’t We Be Vulnerable And Emotional Too? (article)

On calling Black people articulate/well-spoken/educated: The Racial Politics of Speaking Well (article)

The Dangerous Delusion of the Big, Scary, Black Man (article)

Consider why perceptions of Black people as dangerous/aggressive make white folks so reactive to Black anger: to perceive civility as incivility and to perceive anger as a violent threat.

Perceptions and stereotypes of Black men being bigger, stronger and scarier can also be fetishizing. Fetishizing people of color isn’t a compliment, so don’t act like it is (article)

Hyper-Sexualization of Black Women in the Media (pdf)

Is This How Discrimination Ends? (article)

I encourage anyone to add, with links or by writing out your own thoughts.

As white people, what should be guiding us is compassion: breaking down the way white supremacy has reduced our compassion for Black lives.

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tolkienillustrations

Anger Benefits Some Americans Much More Than Others, by Davin Phoenix, author of “The Anger Gap: How Race Shapes Emotion in Politics.” (article)

 

Racial Profiling and the Loss of Black Boyhood, by Hussain Abdulhaqq (article)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Playlist: Talkin ‘bout a Revolution

I was initially going to call this “The New Shit”, but changed my mind, after I encountered a lot of new music that was protest related.

What’s happening today, is indeed a revolution, and every revolution has a soundtrack. In the sixties, the songs revolved around the war in Vietnam, and racial civil unrest. In hindsight, I should have expected this, as there can be no revolution, without Art!

There’s a lot of songs out there, that were written by white folksingers, during the Vietnam War, but plenty of Black musicians wrote stuff, too. I tried not to choose songs that readily come to mind when considering protest songs. I tried to choose the  kind of songs that people might know, but probably don’t think of as revolutionary. 

Here’s a list of revolution songs by Black artists, both past, and present, and maybe even the future. Some of y’all might not have come across these yet, as most of these will not see radio play, and and some of them won’t be offered on conventional streaming apps, either. On the other hand, many of them are available on YouTube, but you can’t research what you don’t now, right?

 

(Say it Loud) I’m Black and I’m Proud – James Brown

This song was groundbreaking for its time. I’ve found that there’s two different types of revolution songs, songs of grief, and songs of defiance. This is definitely the template for the latter type of song. It is defiantly and unabashedly Black.

Songs like these are important, because they are declarations of worth. They remind people of why they’re fighting, and what they’re fighting for, and  if its one thing a bully hates, it’s when their victim gets back on their feet, and declares their worth!

I’m Black and I’m proud is not any different from saying Black Power, or Black Lives Matter.

 

 

F*ck the Police – NWA

This song was incredibly shocking for its time. Not only did it get banned, but it sparked a wave of censorship against Rap music, which did nothing to actually stop Rappers from speaking truth to power, but it did spur music companies to begin focusing solely on Rap music that had no consciousness to it, and only talked about Black crime and partying.

If you’re wondering why conscious Rap music fell out of favor, then the censorship wars of the mid-eighties certainly played a role. White suburban parents did not want their children listening to songs about questioning and disrespecting authority, and so they did what White parents have always done,when it came to art they didn’t want their children exposed to, like Jazz, and  Rock.

Declare it immoral, and use that as an excuse to ban it!

 

 

Redemption Song- Stevie Wonder 

Here, Stevie does a cover of the song originally written by Bob Marley. Its not that I don’t like the Marley version, but I’m a huge Stevie Wonder fan, this version has always been my favorite, and I’ve always loved when Stevie got political.

Or you could try:

You Haven’t Done Nothing

Its Wrong

Misrepresented People

Blowin’ in the Wind

Heaven Help Us All

Village Ghettoland

 

Fight The Power – Public Enemy

I thought about featuring the official song video for this selection, but decided to go with the opening credits for Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, which is what launched this song into everyone’s consciousness. This was a lot of mainstream white people’s first introduction to political rap, like Public Enemy.

I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to Rap music when I was growing up. I didn’t have favorites, or closely follow certain groups, although I certainly knew who PE was. I knew about who and what was hot, because it was the music that everyone around me listened to, so it was always in the background, while I explored other musical tastes.

I’m not going to say this type of music didn’t influence my thinking, because it most certainly did, but I didn’t realize how much so until I was older.

 

 

 

Talking About a Revolution- Tracy Chapman

I talked in my last post about my regard for tracy Chapman’s music. This is another of her many political songs, which still gives me chills many years after I first heard it. This song, along with the last song I listed, is from her first, self titled, album, which was released in 1988.

You can try:

Across the Line

If Not Now, When

Freedom Now

Subcity

 

Hell You Talm ‘Bout – Janelle Monae

This song was released a few years ago, to minor acclaim. Not many people paid a whole lot of attention to it, outside of the Black community, but this song gives me chills every single time I hear it. It is, in the end, a raucous litany of the dead.

 

 

 

This Is America – Childish Gambino

This song became a nine days wonder when it was released a few summers ago, and has not lost its effectiveness. People are still puzzling about the video’s many images and their meanings.

 

https://time.com/5267890/childish-gambino-this-is-america-meaning/

“The central message is about guns and violence in America and the fact that we deal with them and consume them as part of entertainment on one hand, and on the other hand, is a part of our national conversation,” Ramsey tells TIME. “You’re not supposed to feel as if this is the standard fare opulence of the music industry. It’s about a counter-narrative and it really leaves you with chills.”

 

 

Black Excellence – Buddy

I have no idea who Buddy is, but this is one of my new favorite videos, for its celebration of Black history, and I just love to watch good dancing!

 

 

Glory – Common/John Legend

This is one of my Mom’s favorites, but mostly because she’s a big John Legend fan. This song is from the movie, Selma, by the Black female director, Ava Duvernay. I have not been able to bring myself to watch the film. I probably never will. I’ve had my complete fill of movies of Black people overcoming trauma, whose stories I already know, anyway.

The other day, my mom said something very intersting to me. She said, about the current protesters,  “At least they’re not singing We Shall Overcome. I’m sick of that song.” Remember, my mother grew up doing the civil unrest of the  fifties and sixties, and was a member of the local chapter of the Black Panthers, just before I was born. 

I get the distinct impression that  the white people who are talking about today’s issues the loudest, are 1). the kind of people who have never protested for anytihng in their lives, and have 2). not lived with this nearly their entire life. 

My mother is seventy years old. She’s been actively fighting to uplift Black people since she was a teenager! She is not unhappy to see young people picking up where she left off, after her unofficial retirement.

The other day we were talking about her mom, and how she passed just before Obama became the first Black president, and how she would have loved to have seen that. My mom said she was glad to have lived long enough to see that, and to see what’s happening today. 

So yeah, all those white people bitching and whining about the current uprising, can sit down and shut the whole hell up. They’re nattering ignorantly at a people for whom fighting for their rights is a generational lifetime profession!

 

I Just Wanna Live – Keedron Bryant

This is one of my favorite current protest songs. Its also one of the saddest because Keedron is only twelve years old.

There is almost no discussion about the levels of trauma our children are  going through, and not just police brutality, but the presidents behavior, and their constant exposure to the ignorance of online agitators, who are always quick to insist how little their lives matter.

Our kids need to see this. They need to know this. Sadly, they’re the warriors of our future. They’re  going to need to know how to fight this battle, and unfortunately, teach their kids because the battle to be treated as human beings is never going to be over.

 

 

Black Parade – Beyonce 

I want to end on a high note though. On Juneteenth of this year, Beyonce dropped one of the Blackest songs of the year. This is a song of joy, and celebration, and well, there’s definitely some bragging involved.

And then, at the end of this song, she also dropped a list of Black owned businesses. 

I love this song! I’m not the fighter/confrontational type. That doesn’t mean I won’t beat your ass, though. It just means I won’t enjoy doing it, and will be embarrassed at my loss of composure, afterwards! I don’t do things the way my mother did them, but I contribute in the way that I can, in a way that works for me,which seems to be Beyonce’s manner of approach too,  and that’s by celebrating, and uplifting, every opportunity Black people get to shine.

I’m no badass. But I can happily cheer on a badass.

The How and Why: Kimberly Jones

Kimberly Jones lays it out of my thoughts on these issues! Tying together economics, Black history, protests, riots, looters, and racism, in just six minutes.

 

What she’s talking about:

Black Codes

 

Black Wall Street

The opening scene of the first episode of HBO’s Watchmen is taken from this history.

 

Rosewood

(This is also a 1997 movie starring Ving Rhames, and directed by the  Black director, John Singelton)

 

 

The Red Summer of 1919

 

Note: As a librarian, I understand the need for research, but I also understand that some information won’t be found, unless you know certain key words. In other words, you have to know what you’re looking for, to be able to find it. This playlist is a 101 of early Black History, just after the Civil War, and following this information will take you into some interesting territories.

A lot of Black History in America is well documented, but not taught in schools. In order to find it, you need to either  stumble across it by accident, or someone who already knows, needs to tell you, otherwise how would you know what to look for. So its not so much that things are undocumented, but that things are hidden.

So I encourage you to use the key words in the headers for these videos to find out more.

 

 

What I Said: Tumblr Edition

This is just a compilation of some of the posts I made for my Tumblr account. I post very different things there, than I do here, but sometimes I post some things which overlap. These are just some thoughts that occurred to me in the past couple of weeks, and I wrote them down really quick, because although my thoughts about things are consistent, I sometimes forget what I wanted to actually say, and how to say it.

On Narrative Conditioning

As usual, I have this habit of watching events that happen in the rest of the world through the lens of the films I’ve watched, because the analogy just hits me, not because I can’t tell the difference between fiction and reality. It’s just how my mind connects things to other things. Nothing that happens in stories is new, and I see fiction as a reflection and reinforcement of things and thinking that happens in the real world. On some deep level, white people do understand that certain things are wrong, because they keep making fiction (often fantasies) about it.

I think fictional narratives are important, even today, because so much of what we all believe about other human beings does not come from direct experience. A lot of what we believe comes from popular and mainstream media, which is primarily owned by straight, white, men, and it is their thinking about the rest of humanity that gets prioritized. The images of black people that white men put out in the world, for decades, not just in fictional narratives, but in news stories and opinion pieces online, all of it, essentially teaches the rest of the world that our lives are unimportant, and teaches us to hate ourselves. Everyone (yes, PoC, and me, too) are inundated with the idea that whiteness is the default, and takes priority. Some of us overcome this constant messaging by critically challenging these narratives. Some people don’t.

For example, as I grew up, I was inundated with the idea that I was ugly because I was black. Not because I was ever told I was ugly. And not because people told me that white was prettier, but because the words “beautiful” and “pretty”, were never associated with women who looked like me. Those words were used everywhere, in tv ads, and shows, and movie after movie, to only refer to thin, middle-class, white women. (For a good example of this, count how many times Uma Thurman’s character is referred to as beautiful in the Kill Bill movies, and how none of the other female characters looks are ever mentioned. Those women do not have to be called ugly for us to get the message. She just has to constantly be referred to as pretty, while their looks are ignored.) Now imagine a steady diet of this from childhood onward. No one is calling you ugly, but you get the message loud and clear, that pretty doesn’t mean you. This is what is meant by passive conditioning. All of us have this conditioning, and most of this conditioning is done through mainstream media, like books, movies, tv shows, and music.

 

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On Not Thinking

lkeke35

One of the things I’ve observed about trump supporters is that many of them seem to be every bit as incoherent in their mental faculties as trump is. These are not people who have ever had clear, and consistent thoughts, in the sense that one idea follows the next, but instead, seem to have a collection of specific talking points, that are attached to whatever issue sparks their outrage.

These are not ideas that are part of a coherent schema, and most of these thoughts are separate and unattached to one another. It’s one of the reasons so many of them gravitate to raving anger when asked deeper questions about whatever it was they just said. If you ask one of them how sheltering in place is like slavery, to elaborate on that, then they’ll simply produce a string of more talking points, at the mention of the word slavery. They are simply parroting what theyve been told to think, when a specific word is mentioned, and it’s also the reason that while they are consistent from one person to the next, they are internally inconsistent with the individual.

This, I think, is why none of their thoughts make logical sense, to the rest of us, who do have a consistent life philosophy. We form our philosophy over time and then fit circumstances, events, life experiences, and people, into that philosophy. (I’m not speaking about Evangelicals because they’re a special case of nasty, so this doesn’t fit them.) I could be wrong about this but the bottom line is that non-trump supporters are generally pretty coherent and consistent in their thinking in a way that his deepest supporters are not.

Many of trumps supporters didn’t logic there way into the statements we hear them make, and so cannot be logicked out of any of those ideas. These are things they have been told to say, and believe, when a subject is mentioned, even if there is no consistency between the answers. They literally do not see the inconsistencies because they have been conditioned not to think critically, not to ask questions, while the rest of us have. I don’t think they believe sheltering in place is like slavery. That’s simply the thought that’s been attached to their frustration at being inconvenienced, even if that specific thought contradicts another thought they might have if you bring up slavery (It wasn’t real, black people need to get over it, I didn’t own slaves, etc.)

 

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I wrote this one when I was feeling particularly salty, about some dumb shit, I saw on Tumblr.

On Speaking Out

lkeke35

So as soon as some shit pop off, you got white people coming out from under the floorboards, (honestly, these people are like cockroaches, they only come out when our lives are at their darkest), with their traditional hot takes about black violence. What do these people do? Lie in wait for an opportunity to tell black people how they should respond to white wtf*ery? Yes! That’s exactly what they do.

 Some people are so shameless, they will take any and every opportunity to express their anti-blackness. They’re completely oblivious to injustices that aren’t happening to them, but when hands get thrown, they finally notice that, and manage to work up enough energy to care…but only about the response….like those teachers who only saw when you got fed up with being bullied, and finally kicked some ass!

 If they didn’t have shit to say about a single Black person’s death, at the hands of vigilantes and extrajudicial killers, (or worse yet, didn’t even notice that shit was happening), they don’t get a say in how black people respond to the violence that was done to them, especially the kind of violence that could have been thwarted, if they’d paid closer attention to what was happening ,and done something.

Offering their shitty hot take, on what black people need to be doing right now, is very possibly some of the most mentally lazy, and easiest bullshit they can pull right now!

 

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On the Optics
lkeke35
One of the reasons you keep hearing about how George Floyd’s death was the worst one yet, is because of the way in which it was caught on film. In movies, this is called “framing”, and unfortunately, this framing accounts for at least some of the responses we’ve seen from people, who previously, were capable of ignoring most of the deaths of unarmed black people. With almost all the other deaths of black people we’ve seen captured onscreen, most of them, even while seen up close, didn’t allow us to look into the victims eyes,and follow that person down into death, while it happened, and for a lot of people (especially the ones who hadn’t been paying close attention) that shit was deeply traumatic!

 With the Floyd imagery, there is a visceral component to it,that even the worst of these types of videos lacked. As viewers we sat there, and watched his face, and heard his last words, and looked into his eyes for as long as it took to kill him, and that had an effect on people that the other videos didn’t.

Even in other videos we didn’t see the victims faces up close. The videos were from a distance, or the victims were seen from behind, or it happened so fast it almost didn’t register for some people. Just like in a movie, the way the image is framed has a lot to do with the level of emotional engagement with the subject. The closer the camera is to the people being filmed, the higher the level of emotional engagement with that image.

In closeup, in broad daylight, one man is being killed, while the person that does it, looks completely indifferent to what he’s doing.

 Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think these are like movies, but this is how a lot of our minds have been conditioned, through decades of movies and television, to think and/or feel about death. If it’s not up close and personal to the viewer, then the emotional engagement, (certainly for a lot of non-black people), just isn’t there. They didn’t really SEE it, or FEEL it. But this time, they were standing right there, watching his face, hearing his last breath, watching the life being strangled from him ,and knowing it was real.

They watched the face of his killer, and could see the lack of humanity, of empathy, of care, in his expressionless face. In such imagery, there is a level of complicity that’s absent from mostof the other videos ,where you didn’t see the perpetrators face, or the victims expressions. This felt different because it looked different.

 

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On All Cops Are Bastards

lkeke35

I have an even simpler explanation for those not understanding. You got a bowl of skittles. Every one in ten skittle is actually a cyanide tablet, and you cannot tell the difference between it, and any of the other skittles.

 

Would you eat from that bowl? Would you grab a handful and chow down, knowing that in a bowl of 100 skittles, ten of them will kill you?

 

No. You’d throw the whole damn bowl out. The whole damn bowl is bad.

 

We cannot tell, just by looking at them, which cops are going to kill us, and which ones won’t.

 

All cops are bad, because it is the system that is bad.

 

The correct phrase is: One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.

 

If one cop is bad, and the others don’t work to eject him, that makes them all bad!

 

You throw the whole damn group out!

 

“What does it mean when people say that all cops are bastards (ACAB)?”

If it were an individual thing, you’d give them the benefit of the doubt, but it isn’t; it’s an institutional thing. the job itself is a bastard, therefore by carrying out the job, they are bastards. To take it to an extreme: there were no good members of the gestapo because there was no way to carry out the directives of the gestapo and to be a good person. it is the same with the american police state. Police do not exist to protect and serve, according to the US supreme court itself, but to dominate, control, and terrorize in order to maintain the interests of state and capital.

Who are the good cops then? The ones who either quit or are fired for refusing to do the job.

While the following list focuses on the US as a model police state, ALL cops in ALL countries are derivative from very similar violent traditions of modern policing, rooted in old totalitarian regimes, genocides, and slavery, if not the mere maintenance of authoritarian power structures through terrorism.

also this: lol

the police as they are now haven’t even existed for 200 years as an institution, and the modern police force was founded to control crowds and catch slaves, not to “serve and protect” – unless you mean serving and protecting what people call “the 1%.” They have a long history of controlling the working class by intimidating, harassing, assaulting, and even murdering strikers during labor disputes. This isn’t a bug; it’s a feature.

The justice system also loves to intimidate and outright assassinate civil rights leaders.

The police do not serve justice. The police serve the ruling classes, whether or not they themselves are aware of it. They make our communities far more dangerous places to live, but there are alternatives to the modern police state. There is a better way.

Further Reading:

(all links are to free versions of the texts found online – many curated from this source)

Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. (2013). Let Your Motto Be Resistance: A Handbook on Organizing New Afrikan and Oppressed Communities for Self-Defense.

Rose City Copwatch. (2008). Alternatives to Police.

Williams, Kristian. (2004). Our Enemies in Blue: Police and power in America. New York: Soft Skull Press.

 

 

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On Trump’s Photo Op
lkeke35

I am a movie lover, and I especially love horror movies written by Stephen King. I grew up watching horror movies. In fact, I think my mother and I (I blame her for my sordid addiction to horror films) tried to watch every one that got made between 1982, and 1989, before I went off to college.

 One of the movies that always stuck with me, on a moral and political level, was Stephen Kings The Dead Zone. Christopher Walken plays a man named Johnny, who gets psychic powers after a car accident. After he gets these powers, he meets a union delegate named Greg Stillson, played by Martin Sheen, and has a vision of the future, where Stillson, as president, starts a nuclear war. Haunted by this image, Johnny decides to assassinate Stillson during his campaign for president. He doesn’t succeed in killing Stillson, but he does change the future.

 During Johnny’s assassination attempt, Stillson, while standing at a podium, grabs a little girl (who happens to be the daughter of Johnny’s ex-girlfriend) and is photographed using the child’s body as a shield. It effectively ends his campaign and he never becomes president.

 Movies often use the trope of a person’s willingness to harm the innocent to protect themselves, as a way to show how corrupt, ruthless, or just sheer evil they are.The other day, Trump, who has a life long record of shitty behavior it would take too long to get into here, used police brutality against a crowd of peaceful protestors (against police brutality,) and Australian journalists, to clear them away from a photo op he wanted to take at the church in Lafayette Park, which is across the street from the WH. Every moment of the brutality was caught on film.

 George Floyd may have been the death heard round the world, but this is different. The footage from this was seen and heard around the world too, only this time, Trump was directly involved, and in doing so, has created an international incident that has received global censure. We have reached the point where government officials, of other countries, are openly trolling and just blatantly disrespecting the president, and his staff, on social media. Any kind of moral standing we ever had in the world, as a nation, has been entirely spent. Even the rest of the world are utterly sick and tired of this man, and are feeling free to express their contempt for American imperialism.

 There have been a lot of times, we’ve watched his actions and thought, “This is it, this is the last time he can do something like that. His term is now over.” But it never happened. This may actually be Trumps Baby Shield moment. At any rate, with every terrible decision he makes during this crisis, he insures the demise of his career.

I certainly hope so.

But, I’ve been wrong about that before, huh?

 

Just as his supporters mistake cruelty for honesty and bluster for courage, Trump has mistaken bloodlust for leadership. The bombast hides the fundamental truth that the president is a coward, so crippled by the fear of appearing weak that he screams for blood from the safety of his darkened White House, emerging only to gas peaceful protesters and clergymen in an attempt to look strong. He is incapable of understanding how further brutality fuels the unrest he has proved incompetent at confronting.

 

Halloween (1978): The Horror of Framing, and Identification

A Frame is a single image of film or video. So framing consists of the composition of a series of shots, or images from the camera’s point of view. Based on where the camera has been placed, we know where we are as the audience, and that can make all the difference in a person’s attitude towards a film.

I have friends who dislike Horror movies. I know! Sacrilege, right? But I get it. I don’t pressure them to watch them, as they aren’t for everyone, but I often wonder what it is about such movies that they dislike. I know, for some of them, its the feelings of anxiety that such films can produce. But I think at least part of that anxiety has to do with the nature of the visual media that is film. The camera is often a stand-in for the audience. We see what the camera sees, and visual media is carefully composed to manipulate our emotions about what we see onscreen. Some people will find it very off putting, not just watching a scene, and being helpless to stop it, but based on how the images are framed, feel as if they are actually participating in the violence. How are a movie’s images and themes presented to the audience, and what effect does that have on them?

I was watching the original 1978  Halloween a few weeks ago, and comparing it to the new sequel that came out last year. I was thinking about why the new sequel is so effective, at being scary, whereas none of the other sequels, outside of Halloween II, were scary for me, at all.

At least part of the reason the new sequel works is it successfully replicates much of the framing of that first film. This framing (of both films) has the effect of making the audience a participant in the action. If you remember the opening scene from the original film, we see the suburban setting as if we were operating the camera, as Michael stabs his sister to death. Afterwards, the camera switches the viewpoint to that of his parents, we pull back when his parents pull off his mask, as he stands on the front lawn. This is an example of the audience as not just onlookers, which is the viewpoint from which most films are told, but as participants in the actions onscreen. We are not meant to simply watch, but see through Michael’s eyes, as we participate in the killing. That we see the murder from Michael’s point of view can make some members of the audience feel complicit in the act.

After this opening, the camera neatly switches between Laurie Strode’s, and Michael’s, point of view. It is Laurie’s decisions that control the plot, but she and her friends are the ones being acted upon by Michael. The movie is framed in a classic Protagonist/antagonist plot, of two evenly matched adversaries, who play cat and mouse throughout the movie. Part of the movie’s tension is who is going to win this fight, and the camera shows this by switching between both their points of view. Switching between different points of view is a way to keep the audience off balance.

First, let’s have a discussion of camera techniques and film vocabulary, since I am operating under the assumption that a lot of my readers have never really given a whole lot of thought to the idea that what a camera is doing, doesn’t just tell the audience how to feel, or think, but often focuses the movie’s primary theme, and sometimes the story itself.

Telling the audience who is of primary importance in the story, and how the audience should feel about what is happening, is done by framing. The director decides where the camera is going to stand, what it’s going to be doing, and what that image looks like through the viewfinder. One of the things that makes horror movies so unsettling is that the viewpoint can switch at any moment. The camera can be anyone at any time. One of the side effects is that the viewer is not given time to become complacent, or to feel comfortable.

Sometimes we see the world through Michael’s eyes, experiencing the emotionlessness of this character. The way the images are framed, through Michael’s eyes, give us a sense of the character’s height and power, as the camera is often placed slightly above, or at head height during a scene. From Michael’s point of view, the camera is always a semi-distant, and unemotional, observer, that moves slowly, and steadily, giving him a sense of relentless implacability. He is framed as the one in power, as a machine which cannot be stopped.

In other scenes, we see what Laurie sees, experiencing her terror, vulnerability, and bravery. The camera, from Laurie’s point of view, trembles in an uncertain manner, peering around corners, and hedges, through doorways, and closets. In many of her scenes, the camera is closer to the ground, or floor, as it points upwards towards a sound or image. We are meant to feel what she feels, as she is framed as small and helpless.

In the newest Halloween, this is masterfully done by James Carpenter, the director of the original film. In the Michael scenes, the camera moves slowly and steadily through busy, or frenetic settings, at head height. Laurie, whose mindset is now very different after the trauma of the first movie, doesn’t get a lot of viewpoint scenes, and when she does she is shown to be equally matched to him, as the camera is at head height for her, too, until the end of the film, when Michael, now in a vulnerable position, is placed below head height, looking upward, towards Laurie and her daughter. The two of them, having turned the tables on him, look down on him from their position of greater power.

No discussion of framing would be complete without mention of the film in which it was made especially famous, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 Psycho, where we watch the death of the primary character, Marion Crane, from the point of view of her killer, in the infamous “shower scene”. Hitchcock is rightfully lauded for this particular camera technique, as it had never been done in that way before, and it rightfully shocked audiences. I think at least part of that shock is that Hitchcock makes the audience feel complicit in Marion Crane’s murder, as we see it from the point of view of her killer, Norman Bates, but that’s not what makes Psycho groundbreaking. It is the switch from Marion’s point of view, to the killer’s, that sets it apart. Marion goes from Subject, to Object, from the person who commits the acts that determine the plot, at the beginning of the film, and the person with whom we identify, to the person who is acted upon. At the beginning of the film Marion is the Subject, from whose viewpoint we see the world, but when she is killed, she becomes the Object, and we become her killer. For some people, this was simply too much.

What Hitchcock did in this scene is switch Framing. Based on the framing, the audience is meant to think, or feel, a certain way about, or towards, a character. You’re meant to be uncomfortable during the shower scene, and Michael’s murder of his sister, as your eyes are forced to see your victim, and you cannot look elsewhere. In Hitchcock’s scene the camera is initially placed inside the shower with Marion, as she looks outward and sees a shadow. We do not see Marion, in those instances, (she is “out of frame”), because we are seeing things from her point of view. Then the camera is turned, and placed outside the shower, facing Marion. We don’t see her killer now, because we are now in the killers viewpoint. This makes this scene much more intimate than if it was “framed” another way. For example, if the camera had been placed to see both subjects, at the same time, “framing” both of them within the image, in such an enclosed space, it would have to be further away from them, placing us, the audience, at an emotional remove, and the scene would feel less immediate.

By placing the camera as the point of view of either character, and switching back and forth between them, we become a part of the scene. We become the characters, rather than an omnipotent third party, who are just watching a murder, as would happen if the camera were placed at a distance. The moment becomes not just more intimate, but more visceral, than if the camera was placed elsewhere.

Most movies are framed in such a way as to make the audience a third but invisible onlooker, which is sometimes called the “god perspective”, or the “omnipresent watcher”, Or sometimes, in the feminist perspective, The Male Gaze, where we can see everything that’s occurring within the scene, as if we were standing right there. If the camera is close to the scene, such as when two people are having a conversation and both are seen within the frame, we feel like a third invisible observer, in the scene with them. If the camera is even further away than we may feel like we are not part of the scene at all. We might feel like we are spying on the two subjects from afar. If the camera is placed within the scene, switching from the view of one character to another, than we become those characters. Framing indicates the level of intimacy, and the best directors tell us how to feel about the characters, based not just on what they say, but how they are seen within the frame.

For example, an extreme closeup of a woman, with the camera panning, (when a camera moves up and down, or from side to side), along her body, places us in the scene with her, as we look at her body. Sometimes the scene is meant to be sexually evocative, as the character is often aware that we are there, and appears to respond to our presence in the scene with her. But if the camera is across the room, while focusing on her body and legs, we are no longer in the scene with her, but spying on her from a distance. The character doesn’t know we are there, isn’t posing provocatively for our gaze, and acts as if she is alone, which makes us voyeurs, to what appears to be a private moment, such as the scene when Marion Crane first gets into the shower. We have not asked permission, she is unaware of the camera, and has not given us her consent to look in on her. She is as unaware of our presence, as she is the killer’s.

For another example, in the movie, The Seven Year Itch, there’s the iconic scene of Marilyn Monroe standing over a sewer grate, with her skirts floating in the air. There are two people in the scene, and the camera is far enough away to frame both of them within the image, except when her skirts fly up. Notice how the camera is just close enough for her to “know” that we are standing right there, but the camera only focuses on her face, when she is speaking to her date, and only shows her carefully posed legs, when she isn’t speaking, as if we were being distracted from their conversation.

That we are not seeing this moment from either of their points of view, but at a distance, is what makes the scene funny. We are both present, and not present, standing on the street, in plain view of both these characters, who do not react to our presence, but they know we are right there, because we are standing directly in front of them, just a few feet away, witnessing an event, that they are performing for us. The camera is just far enough away, that we don’t feel like participants, but like someone who was just passing by, who has decided to stop and stare at their flirtatious show. We are voyeurs, and the scene is meant to be both sexually enticing, and humorous.

Contrast that scene, with the opening scene, from the 1976 version of Carrie. The camera is in the shower with Carrie, in extreme closeup. As close as the Marion Crane scene in Psycho. This is a very intimate moment, that we are intruding on, but not participating in. Carrie is supposed to be alone, as she does not react to the camera, and is unaware of its presence. But the scene isn’t without emotion, as shots of her legs, torso, and body, are interspersed with shots of her face, and her tranquil expression. What we are doing is intruding into Carries private moment. She is one of the last girls still in the shower, because it is the only place she can find respite from her constantly bullying classmates. She is enjoying this quiet solitude, before she must re-enter the world. Here, we are voyeurs of a different sort, as we are meant to identify with Carrie in this scene. If we were not meant to identify with her, she would be objectified, by not having close up shots of her face.

Framing can mean the difference between objectification, and identification. We are not meant to identify with Marilyn’s character. We are interested as an onlooker, to a show she is giving. We don’t really care about her facial expressions, which is why those are shot at more of a distance. In Carrie, we are meant to identify with her, and not her classmates, who are shot from a distance, and framed as a faceless mob of nubile, seductive water nymphs, in slow motion, and half dressed. In a sense, this is how Carries sees them, as happy, frolicking, young women, whose faces all blend together, and that’s something that will be shown explicitly, minutes later, during the tampon throwing scene, and during the Prom scene, when Carrie thinks they are all laughing at her. Focusing the camera on Carrie’s solemn facial expression, is a contrast to her classmates. We are shown her feelings, and her personhood. We are meant to be sympathetic to her, not her classmates. Some people might find it very difficult to watch a film where one is made to identify with the victim of bullying.

 Let’s use another movie, to contrast against Halloween, as an example of framing. We’ll use the 2011, It Follows. Both films basically have the same plot, two women are being relentlessly pursued by silent creatures that want to kill them. Both movies frame the characters in such a way that denotes they are the protagonists, both films revolve around killing that involves sexual activity, and both involve the survival, at the end of the movie, of a Final Girl.

In It Follows, Jay is being pursued by a monster that can take the form of someone she knows, after she is infected by a virus that allows her to see it. In Halloween, we go where Michael goes, and see what he sees. We are the monster. In It Follows, we never see the world from the monsters viewpoint, except at the opening of the film. For the rest of the movie, we are almost always looking towards the monster, and seeing the world through either Jay’s eyes, or as third observer. We don’t get to walk in the monsters footsteps. We are not the monster, and hence, the monster is the less important part of this film. Unlike Halloween, in It Follows, we are voyeurs, who watch Jay during some of her most private moments, or we see the monster from Jay’s viewpoint. Jay is the movie’s focus, and everything revolves around her. This is not like Halloween, where you have two separate, but evenly matched, adversaries. The monster has no identity of its own, and can have no point of view. Any identity we see, is given to it by Jay, and everything we see of it, is from Jay’s mind.

Michael (who is often the audience stand-in) often watches Laurie and her friends from a distance. The camera’s distance from Michael’s victims creates a feeling of emotional detachment in the audience. We don’t get closeups of their faces because Michael isn’t interested in them as people, only as objects he can act upon. We are not meant to identify with Laurie’s friends. However, as a third observer, we do get lots of closeups of Laurie’s face. We are meant to feel what she feels, because the closer the camera is to the character, the more intimate the moment.

Since these movies are framed from the point of view of the killers, or as if the viewers were ineffectual observers, or participants in the scenes, you are meant to feel the tension of either the victim, or excitement of the killer. I’ve never felt the latter, but apparently there are those who watch horror movies who get a thrill from just that. I’ve also heard people who don’t like horror movies, accuse those who do, of getting just such a thrill, and I came to the conclusion that at least some of them were deeply uncomfortable with how horror movies are framed.

Perhaps for those who perceive themselves as “good” people, who would never harm anyone, horror movies might be especially stressful, in this regard. Seeing horror scenes from the killer’s relentless point of view is distressing, just as much as being a stand in for the helpless and vulnerable victim, or being an invisible voyeur to violent acts.

The Strong Black Woman

At The Take, they’re examining the movie trope of the Strong Black woman. This stereotype is a conflation of The Mammy and Sapphire stereotypes, always angry, telling it’s like it is, emasculating, and strong beyond reason, in her ability to overcome suffering. The Strong Black Woman is a stereotype created by black women as a way to counteract the nastier stereotypes, but it has backfired, because it is often the only recognized narrative of us.

What the stereotype ignores is that our ability to be strong is often based on our ability to endure suffering, whereas for white women, it’s often an ability to act like white men do in movies, kicking ass, shooting guns, and not needing a man. Often, when Black women protest this stereotype, it’s because so much of it consists of not needing a man, which is often used as an excuse to not write romances for Black women. The SBW isn’t a bad thing, but when it’s the only image that’s presented onscreen, it becomes an issue.

One of the side effects of this superwoman stereotype is that so many people have bought into it, that it affects our lived experiences, and our vulnerabilities are ignored. Suicide rates among black woman are never discussed, we receive less medical care because it is actually assumed that we don’t feel pain, our strength is often exploited as a benefit to others, our mental health, and inner emotional life is never explored.

This is slowly starting to change, with more nuanced portrayals, especially in TV. We’re finally getting the message out to all women, that it’s okay to be vulnerable, to be soft, to cry, how hard it is to live up to this impossible stereotype, and that taking care of our emotional health isn’t a selfish act.

This is why diversity in storytelling is so important, because with more Black female representation, the lone black woman, who don’t need no man, doesn’t have to stand in for all Black women, in the way that Scarlett Johansson had to be a stand-in for every white woman, in the MCU.

Let’s Go Waaay Back to the 80’s

Bosom Buddies

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Way back in the 80’s, this little gem starred Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari, and lasted for two years. I do have to admit, there is no way in hell you could get this on TV right now. In this environment, this show would be a massive mistake. But I loved the hell out of this show when I was about thirteen or so. There was just something about the goofy  humor of this show that just appealed to me, and Tom Hanks had incredible comedic timing.

The show is about two ad agency illustrators, working in New York city, who cannot afford an apartment together, so their friend Amy suggests they dress up like women to get in to the much more affordable all women’s apartment building that she lives in.They take on the personas of Buffy (Hanks) and Hildegard (Scolari), two sisters from some podunk town in the midwest.

A lot of the humor came out of the logistics of their double lives as men at work, and women in the evening, and navigating Buffy’s crush on his pretty blond neighbor down the hall. But it wasn’t all funny, sometimes the show liked to get serious by addressing the bigotry experienced by their glamorous Black neighbor, or discussing fatphobia, as Amy dealt with being a large sized woman, and along the way the guys got to know first hand what it was like to experience New York social life as women.

This show used to air on Hulu, but now the only place  can find it is on Amazon for pay. Its unlikely to experience a revival any time soon. We’ve grown in maturity, and awareness  since then, and you couldn’t do a show like this now  without making a lot of changes. This is another one of the many hundreds of shows and movies that has done the work of associating transgender women with the idea of deception, associating it with men in women’s clothing, and has helped to contribute to transphobia.

Another interesting note, is that in just about every single famous actors or comedian’s background, is a show or movie, which puts them either in drag, or has them play flamboyantly gay characters. These cross dressed characters, and flamboyant gays were ALWAYS meant to be laughed at. One of the other side effects of constantly having straight men mock lgbtq characters for laughs, is that real life lgbtq people simply didn’t get taken seriously as real people. The height of this show’s popularity was also the height of the AIDS crisis, which was ignored by the Federal government, because it was believed by them, that God was killing the correct people.

 

 

 

Knight Rider

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I never developed the great love for David Hasselhoff that Dean Winchester did from watching this show. I liked the show when I was a teenager, but I think I mostly just loved the car, and wished I had one just like it. In fact, they used to produce these as toys when I was a child, and when my brother got one as a gift, I appropriated it for myself (i.e., I stole it), to use for my Barbie dolls.

As far as I was concerned, K.I.T.T. was the star of the show, voiced by William Daniels, and quite frankly, I thought the car was smarter than uh…whoever that guy was driving it. A few years ago there was an episode of Supernatural that referenced Knight Rider by having Sam Winchester get turned into the classic car. Y’all don’t know how much that whole thing just made me giggle like a complete fool. Even the theme song is a classic. If you were a teen when the show aired, you know how hugely popular it was, even to the point of having copycat shows, that tried to have cool classic cars that solved problems.

 

 

Designing Women

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 This was very probably one of the most progressive feminist shows on Tv, and one of the templates for feminist shows that came after it. A group of white women living together, with different sexual morals, and ethics, arguing about them, while working. The only drawback I had to shows like these were there were never any women of color, lesbians, or poor, or disabled women involved in them. This was First Wave Feminism, which meant it was almost exclusively about white working women. There was no intersectionalism at this point.

The two stand out characters were Julia, and Suzanne Sugarbaker, who were meant to be direct contrasts to one another, and Suzanne was every bit as regressive in her politics, as her cousin, Julia, was progressive in hers. Suzanne was open in her sexuality, but often treated everyone around her as if they were her personal servants, which gave Julia plenty of opportunities to give speeches, show disdain for her behavior, or teach her a lesson in how to be less judgmental. In fact, Julia’s, breathlessly, outraged performances, were often the highlight of an episode. A lot of the shows messages were pretty heavy handed, but it was the kind of stuff a teenage girl needed to hear.

Meshach Taylor also managed to get some good one liners and quips as a kind of business handyman, sort of like the character of Benson. He was the transportation and heavy lifter, doing the kinds of physical work that these four, upper class, Southern white women certainly weren’t going to be doing for themselves. He was often put upon by Suzanne, but most of the time, he managed to get the last word, without coming across as threatening. In fact his character was so non threatening I assumed, in my uninformed teenage mind, that he was gay! But at that age I had not reckoned with the social dynamics of the modern southern bigotry of white women interacting with black men. He had to be nonthreatening, and couldn’t possibly be depicted as any kind of sexual being in the presence of four professional white women. Nevertheless, I do remember liking his character.

This is another comedy, like Bosom Buddies, that didn’t age well. You could make a show like this today, but it would be bland, yet at the same time, polarizingly heavy handed.

 

 

Thangs I Looked At: Movie Mini Reviews

Here are three films I watched in February. For the record, although I had some mild criticisms, I generally liked them, and  I especially enjoyed the Terminator film, which I wasn’t entirely certain I would, since no one was talking about it.

Terminator: Dark Fate

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I was initially very excited when I saw the trailer for this movie, but ultimately didn’t get a chance to see it in theaters. After that, I didn’t hear much about it. I dont normally get too worked up about films, that I think are going to be popular, bombing at the box office, because there are at least half a dozen reasons I won’t   see it, no mater how excited I am about it. I figured that’s probably much the case with a lot of films that bomb. In other words, films bomb for a whole variety of reasons, that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the film’s quality.

And the quality of this latest entry in the Terminator franchise is very excellent. You should really check it out when you get a chance. I liked it every bit as much as I thought I would, ,and you will remember I was very excited about the trailer. It even did a couple of things I wasn’t expecting as far as plot and characters.

The basic plot sort of parallels the Sarah Connor plot from the first movie, but is much more personal. Dani isn’t the savior of the world, she is the savior of one person in particular, and Sarah comes along for the ride. The Terminator is very interesting, combining both elements of the original T-800, and the Liquid version from T2.

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What was surprising about the movie is how female-centric it was, while touching on a lot of themes. Nearly all the characters are women, and they control the plot points in this movie. Sarah’s character reminded me  of Laurie Strode, from the most recent Halloween movie, in that she is a broken and horribly traumatized woman. I always find it interesting when female characters are deliberately written to be unlikable, and that is  the case here. Sarah is kind of an asshole, who butts heads with everyone. She is mean, and bitter, the sneer never leaves her face, and this is acceptable to the viewer, because she is  definitely hurting, and broken, because of an event that happened after she and John saved the world’s future. The movie is as much about her trauma as it is about saving Dani. It is a heavy movie, with the only comic relief provided by an old school Terminator, played by Schwarzeneggar, as a drapery salesman named Carl, who is married to a woman he doesn’t have sex with, and doesn’t know what he is! Once you  wrap your head around all that, the movie is an action fest every bit as good as Fury Road, only  less zany.

The movie takes place largely in Mexico, and at one point, Dani, and the others must sneak into the US, but get locked up in one of the Border camps, so the movie went there, which was interesting, because I didn’t think it would. While no one says anything outright, the framing of those scenes show strong disapproval of what’s happening there, as the Terminator bursts in and slaughters half the border guards, and steals a helicopter.

The Terminator is played by one of my favorite actors, Gabriel Luna, who I got a kick out of watching in the SHIELD series, as the Ghost Rider. His technology isn’t just a blend of the two styles of Terminator we’ve seen, but so is his demeanor, which is especially chilling, because he seems very, innocuous, normal, and friendly, right up until you die.

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The stand out character for me though was Grace, who is awesome. I’m saving a special place in my personal pantheon for Grace, (as not too many white women, Ellen Ripley and Furiosa being the only two,  manage to get into it), who can definitely carry an action scene. The last time I saw that particular actress, she was playing a replicant, in Bladerunner 2049, and here she is playing another half human character. Grace is much like her name, moving and fighting in exactly the manner you’d expect of a technologically enhanced human being, and some of the most exhilarating scenes, are watching her go toe to toe with the Terminator, and matching him hit for hit. She doesn’t actually defeat him, but she is his equal.

The ending of the movie is bittersweet, but I liked it. I liked the entire film. There are no slow moments. Nothing is wasted, and I liked the love/hate dynamics between the female characters, which felt organic, and not just thrown in for drama’s sake. If you haven’t seen this movie, you should check it out, just to watch Schwarzeneggar’s role as Carl, and here him complain about people’s bad taste in draperies, in his usual  monotone.

 

 

 

Spider-Man: Far From Home

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Despite a couple of hiccups, I genuinely liked this movie. I don’t think it’s as good as the first film, but that one had some  novelty behind it in being Tom Hollands first full length term as Spiderman. This one is okay. Its not great. I wouldn’t put it anywhere near Maguire’s Spiderman 2, but its fun and watchable. The teenagers act like teens ,and the love story between Pete and MJ is really cute. This is funnier than the first film, and a  genuine comedy, until it gets near the end, when things get a bit more serious. As with most comedies your mileage may vary. I thought a few of the jokes landed badly, but mostly of them hit their mark, at least for me.

The most annoying part of the movie however,  is the continuing attachment of Tony Stark to Peter’s storyline. He’s still cleaning up Stark’s messes, even after he’s dead. I suspect that will be going on in the MCU for some time, since one of Tony’s major superpowers was  pissing off powerful creatures and/or people. Probably half the villains in the MCU can be traced back to something Tony said or did to some hapless supplicant, and that is the origin story behind Mysterio.

I also found it annoying that everyone assumes Peter wants to take up Tony Stark’s mantle, and do what he did, only as Spiderman. Just let the child be himself ffs! Why does anyone have to step into Tony’s shoes? On the other hand, the movie does mention (rather roughly) some of the issues that happened in the aftermath of  the Snap and the Return, (in this movie its called the Blip), and how much society was upheaved by both those events. I thought it was an intriguing idea  that the world was just as upset by everyone’s return, after five years, as it was by the trauma of their disappearance.

Well, anyway the movie is still fun, and full of lots of humorous moments, regardless of Tony’s ghost hanging around this movie, and I have watched it a couple of times, since its release. Like the first movie, it doesn’t have a whole lot of depth, until the end, when Peter directly goes up against Mysterio.

I liked this just fine. Its not great. Its not even as good as Homecoming, but it’s a well spent Saturday afternoon or evening.

 

 

 

John Wick 3: Parabellum

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Wow! This movie was a wild ride from start to finish. I don’t even know where to begin, I want to call this a hot ass mess, but that would imply I didn’t like it. In fact, I loved it! But yes, it is a hot ass, but very enjoyable, cray-cray mess. its like a Jason Statham, Fast and Furious movie, only with a real budget, if you catch my meaning.

Like the last movie, it picks up where it left off, with Wick being hunted by the Assassin’s guild which he used to be a member of. He’s got to find some old colleagues to help him stay alive, and they of curse come immediately into danger. One of those old friends, Sofia,  is played by Halle Berry, who owns a couple of  Belgian Mallinois, that she has specifically trained to kick ass, on her command, and that part of the movie is lots of fun to watch. I don’t get to watch Halle kick ass too often, so watching this fifty plus year old Black woman throwing  hands was a real treat.

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Another treat was watching Mark Dacascos chew the scenery, and get some genuinely funny lines, as a major villain who just wants to take John down, and supplant him as the boogeyman of assassins. I hadn’t seen Mark in a while, so it was fun to watch this professional ass-kicker throw down, even if the bald head was kind of jarring.

In the meantime, while John is trying to get his shit together there’s an actual assassins cabal, that oversees the assassin’s guild. Since John was “excommunicated”, he’s gotten help from a few friends, including Lawrence Fishburne, as the King of New York, and all their lives are put in danger, because one of the rules is that if you are a member of the guild in good standing, you have to turn in those who are excommunicated.

So the plot becomes a lot more complex, along with all the stuntwork. The John Wick movies are not especially deep, but they are great fun, even though they’re incredibly violent. Part of the reason people don’t mind the violence, quite so much, is that it’s de-mystified by the extras and behind the scenes videos, that show how are the stuntwork gets done, and watching the behind the scenes videos are just as much fun as watching

Accents in Movies: Depicting Class

In the 1991 Jonathan Demme film, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter, in one of the film’s most cringeworthy scenes,  properly deduces that Clarice Starling is “poor white trash”. Working from his own collection of  stereotypes, the observation of her good bag, cheap shoes, and Appalachian mountains accent, he correctly guesses that she’s not more than one generation out of the coal mines. Clarice’s accent, as much as her womanhood, marks her as “other”.

Everything about her, from the opening running scene, in which she is ogled by a pair of classmates, to the elevator scene where the height differential between herself and her classmates makes her stand out, to the soft Southern accent, with which she replies to her supervisor, it is shown that Clarice does not belong there. Although later, Clarice uses her accent to gain the trust and compliance of a roomful of rural professionals, who are suspicious of her presence, as a woman in an all male environment, and as a member of the Federal government. She uses her accent to show that she is actually one of them, from the culture in which the idea of the Wise (or Conjure) Woman is important, and respected.

When you watch that scene again, take note of the strength of the accent, and her use of words. She says to the men, “We’ll take care of her. Just go on now. We’ll take care of her.” And they unquestioningly obey her request, much as they would, if their mothers, or grandmothers had said it. She has successfully conveyed to the men, that she is one of them, a member of their social class, who knows how these things are done.

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Clarice is a pretender to social class, which is a nice parallel to the film’s antagonist, Jame Gumb, who pretends at being a transgender woman. The only person who is not fooled by Clarice’s  pretense at urban sophistication, is  Lecter, who has a distinct, upper class, European accent, reminiscent of the Lithuanian nobility, from which he came. To  less discerning characters, like Chilton, or the room full of cops that she orders around, Clarice can pass as a member of the middle class. The moment she speaks, people assume she isn’t, but to someone like Lecter, her lack of breeding is clearly evident. Both her, and Gumb’s, (his is Southern Californian), accents mark them as outside the mainstream. Except for the three primary characters, Lecter, Gumb, and Starling, all of the other characters in the film, including Clarice’s Black roommate, played by Kasi Lemmons, all have the  Standard American accent.

The American Standard is the king of American accents, it is the default, so common it goes unnoticed, and the most well favored. It’s also called the Central Midwestern accent, used in places like Northeastern Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan to the far north, Iowa, New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and is the accent most often heard from news anchors, public announcers, and even AI programs like Siri, and Alexa. There are other accents in those regions, that coexist along side it, but the American Standard is the one which is preferred.

 

https://www.stagemilk.com/american-accent-guide/

It is also somewhat of a constructed concept. What I mean by that is that nobody grew up in Standard America. The sound we’re talking about is what is called a prestige dialect. Most countries (and most languages) have a prestige dialect which is exactly what it sounds like: the speech sounds most commonly identified with status within a given society. Linguistically it’s not simply status but also clarity, intelligence, socioeconomic influence and general power. 

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Unlike Clarice, I have this privilege. I call this Accent Privilege, in the sense that my regular speaking voice doesn’t have an accent that is noticeably different from that of the mainstream, Midwestern accent. This happened by sheer luck. I just happened to be born into one of the regions where this is the most prevalent accent. People often judge others on how they speak, and if you have no noticeable accent,  that judgment is favorable most of the time. My accent marks me to others as being intelligent, educated, and/or middle class. My words are treated with either trust or suspicion, based on who I’m talking to. White people consider me “safe”, and are reassured by my ability to be clear and articulate, but I was often asked by my Black classmates, why I spoke like a white person, as the Midwestern accent is heavily associated with Whiteness. I did not grow up as a member of the middle class. Like Clarice Starling, I’m pretending to a social class I was not born into, but which people assumed I did, and my accent helped to sell it, because, like her, I’m barely one generation away from the cotton fields.

But I do also engage in what is known as “Code Switching”, where people from other cultures, or just different regions of the country, speak differently, in different spaces, often “switching” back and forth, between their normal speaking voice, and American Standard.  Why? Because many people are often uncomfortable with, and disrespectful, and suspicious of other languages, and vernacular English, like AAVE (African American Vernacular English). When I’m in my home, I speak the way my family speaks, and since the majority of them are from rural Mississippi, we speak AAVE, but I don’t speak at work that way. For one thing, my job involves answering phones, and a certain mode of professional speaking is required for that type of job. It would be considered “unprofessional”, and in the minds of some people, low class, for me to answer the business phone, as if I were at home. I don’t talk to my supervisors, the way I talk to my mother, for example, (and neither do most people, regardless of whether or not they have accents.

Now, when I’m talking about accents, for the purposes of this post, I mean the entirety of a person’s manner of speaking, including word usage, because only certain types of accents are associated with the use of certain types of words, for example, the use of the word, “y’all”.

 The mainstream Midwestern accent is the default accent used in almost all of American television, and movies. Having a Midwestern accent means a person gets treated as trustworthy, their words are given more weight,  given the benefit of the doubt,  assumed to be educated,  to have a good job,  and to be non-violent. In America, sounding like an American, means having  “no accent”, but that wasn’t always the case.

In the early part of the 20th century, the Mid-Atlantic accent was what was used, until it fell out of favor, in the fifties, for a more “natural” sounding speech pattern.

 

Of course this is an accent, too, in the same way that “White” is a race, but this “lack” of accent (just like whiteness) is so ubiquitous, that most people don’t  notice it.

The way someone pronounces their words, is used in movies and shows, not just to reinforce stereotypes, but as a  form of shorthand, to show a person’s character, and social class. Filmmakers use accents to show audiences that a character is good,  evil,  smart, gullible, suspicious, or trustworthy.  Turn on any American TV show, watch any movie, and chances are, those with Midwestern accents will be the majority of the characters, and probably  will be  the protagonists, heroes, or in positions of authority. They will also almost always be White.

You will not find  a lot of characters in mainstream media with deep Southern accents, Western twangs,  Texas Drawls, Valley Girl speech, Arabic, Southeast Indian, or Caribbean  accents, unless they are also shown as poor, incompetent, corrupt, or played for comic relief. In other words, characters never just have accents. There is always a reason for the accent, and some  point about that person is being made.

For example, the accent, in mainstream media, is used to indicate if someone is considered an American citizen. For the past twenty plus years, the Simpsons,  has had the running gag of an immigrant named Apu, a stereotypical character from India, who has  a strong accent,  is the father of a small multitude of babies, and runs a convenience store. This character is meant to be funny because of how he speaks, not necessarily because of anything he does, as his very existence in Springfield, (the setting of The Simpsons), is meant to be comedic. His accent also paints him as a perpetual foreigner. Asian Americans are especially susceptible to this stereotype, as no matter how many generations they’ve lived in America, they are often still assumed to be from somewhere else. And if they have an accent then doubly so.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual_foreigner

The perpetual foreigner stereotype is a racialized form of nativist xenophobia in which naturalized and even native-born citizens (including families which have lived in the country for generations) are perceived as foreign because they belong to minority groups.

I spoke, in an earlier post, about the use of accents in the movies of the Coen Brothers, where everyone’s speech patterns and accents are used as indicators of people’s socio-economic status, the status they aspire to be, or simply framed as comedic.  In The Ladykillers, Tom Hanks broad Southern  accent is associated with television conmen, corrupt religious authority, and the Antebellum era of Georgia.  His accent gives the audience ideas about the  type of man he is. The audience doesn’t know he is a grifter and conman by his deeds. We know this by the long association, that has been made in mainstream media, between his accent, and untrustworthiness. All we  need is to hear is his caricature of a Southern accent, to understand that he is unreliable, and also that  the movie is meant to be a comedy.

 

In Raising Arizona, Hi, a criminal recidivist,  his two  best  friends, both prison escapees, and a murderous biker, all talk in what I call “downspeak”, where they talk as if they were  college educated, but with the Southern twang that is meant to indicate their social class, and criminal status. This is what I meant by the association of word use and accent. The humor comes from the incongruity of Hi, and his companions, using words not normally associated with their accents. Not only that, but Hi’s word use can also be seen as aspirational. He talks the way he wishes to be seen by others, which is smart, educated, middle-class, and therefore a reliable narrator, but we  laugh at the way Hi speaks, because his accent marks him as a member of the trailer park class, no matter what words he uses.

Accents are especially interesting  when it comes to Black characters. Blackness, throughout most of film history, has been  almost always associated with buffoonery, poverty, criminality, and a lack of education.  So  it is interesting that even though the largest population of Black people in the US, live in the South, Black people in Popular media, rarely have Southern, Californian, or even Texan accents, and those times when they have  a Southern accent, it represents childlike helplessness, that they have wisdom above their station, or in the case of Black women, that they are deeply religious.

In the 1986 movie, Crossroads, starring Ralph Macchio, and Joe Seneca, we can contrast Willie Brown’s poor, Mississippi Delta accent, with Eugene Martone’s middle-class, New York accent, something which Willie never lets Eugene forget throughout the film. They’re both musicians who specialize in playing the guitar, but one of them was born into poverty and plays the Blues, a style of music that is dismissed as “primitive” by Eugene’s music teachers, and the other was born in one of world’s most cosmopolitan cities, and plays Western European Classical music, which is sneered at by Willie, as not being “real music, that comes from the heart”. In this movie, it is Eugene who is out of place, as his accent is commented on by the other characters in the film, and marks him as being from a different socio-economic class.

The Northern Blaccent, where a person speaks AAVE, but speaks it with a Midwestern accent, is often representative of  the “thug”, or gang banger stereotype, and appears to be a universal Black accent,  not closely associated  with any particular region of the US, which means that no matter where the movie or show is set, the accents of Black characters in Popular media, tend to remain consistently Midwestern. Once again, this is not a hard and fast rule, as exceptions can be found, but it is a pattern, and the idea that Blackness alone, is so associated with criminality, violence, and unreliability, to such a degree, that none of those qualities need be further indicated by a strong accent, is disturbing.

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When a Black character speaks SAE (Standard American English) onscreen, without an accent, then it connotes all the same qualities that it does in the real world, respectability, and safety. A decade after the demise of the Mid-Atlantic accent, used by White actors, Black characters were still using it. The use of AAVE in movies and shows, did not reach full use by Black characters until the mid seventies, after which it became associated with Black youth culture, and the Blacksploitation movies of that era. The use of AAVE, in mainstream media, came about as a result of the resurgence in Black Pride, when young Black people dismissed respectability politics, in favor of more natural manners of speaking.

Actors like Sidney Poitier, and other actors during, and after, the Civil rights Era, had a distinct, clipped, educated,  Mid-Atlantic accent, which was meant to show that he was a fine, upstanding Black man, to be respected. The purpose of this manner of speaking was meant to counteract the “Coon” manner of speaking that had been heard in most mainstream films, featuring Black characters. His tone, and speech, are meant to convey authority. This was a man who could be liked and trusted, and  this was illustrated in the 1967 movie, In the Heat of the Night, in which a Black Philadelphia cop, Virgil Tibbs, is sent to a small town in Mississippi,  and works with the town sheriff to solve a murder.

Poitier’s voice is deep, firm, and commanding, because sometimes, the tone and timbre of a person’s voice are important, as well. In this scene, notice the difference in his voice, compared to that of the white sheriff, whose voice is of a higher register, and a more casual tone. The Sheriff’s accent is a soft Southern drawl, his tone holds just a touch of ambiguity, because while he is assured of his own authority, he is uncertain of Tibbs, but like the plot of every cop film of the 80s,  the two men begin  to respect each other, as they are forced to work together.

 

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In Hollywood films, the accent that receives the most negative depictions, outside of the Northern Blaccent, is the  Southern Twang. White people with Southern twangs from places  like Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and the Appalachians, are often depicted in films as toothless, criminal, incestuous,  “rednecks”, “trailer trash”, and “hillbillies”. They are often shown as uneducated, overly religious, violent, poor, and gullible members of the lower classes, (they often populate Horror movies set in rural America, like The Texas Chainsaw massacre, and Deliverance, which is something I’ll be speaking about in a later post.) We are meant to laugh at them, disdain them, be afraid of them, or disgusted by them. The audience is almost never meant to think of such individuals as their equals. Contrast this attitude with that of earlier in the twentieth century, before television, when such people were often held up as admirable examples of Americans, who were the “salt of the Earth”. They weren’t respected, but at least were not blatantly denigrated in most media depictions of them. They were shown as ignorant, but level headed, uneducated, but sensible. Over time, with the advent of television, which was aimed at a middle class audience, the depiction of white poverty became almost entirely negative.

Also on The Simpsons, there is another recurring character named Cletus, The Slack Jawed Yokel, and his theme song and  vignettes are every stereotype of rural poverty, which pretty much sums up how this character is meant to be seen, but because this is a white character, no one thinks of it as being especially mean-spirited, despite the fact that the people writing the show, don’t share the socio-economic background of the character. We are meant to laugh at him, and his antics, not sympathize with him. (TBH, many of The Simpson’s recurring characters are  collections of various tropes.)

We can more clearly see this stereotyping at work, in the 1993 movie, Kalifornia, between  two couples who share almost nothing in common, beyond having white skin. The don’t share income levels, background, or education. Early and his girlfriend, Adele, both speak with a Twang which, outside of their dress and demeanor, indicates their low social and economic status, compared to Brian and Carrie, who speak with the “accentless” accents of the Midwest. Brian and Carrie are both urbane, educated, middle class, and look down on, and mock Adele and Early as “poor white trash”. When the two couples meet,  Carrie expresses reservations about Early and Adele, and finds them funny. Throughout the movie, she regularly expresses disgust, and embarrassment, for the couple’s mannerisms, speech, and lack of boundaries.

Early is a murderer, with a long criminal background, and  on parole, while he and Adele inhabit a trailer, they cannot afford. Adele, while sweet, and good-natured, is also  dimwitted,  gullible, and easily manipulated by Early, who is physically abusive towards her. Adele is  more open with her sexuality. She isn’t slut-shamed in the film, but her manner and dress is distinctly different from the cool, modestly dressed, and sexually aloof Carrie, who Early covets as being beyond his ability to acquire. Carrie’s hair, makeup, and clothing, all indicate that she is a member of the middle class, while Adele’s childlike hairstyles, and lack of makeup, indicate her lack of sophistication. This is actually pretty typical of Hollywood versions of White people with strong Southern accents, but there are at least two exceptions to this, as well.

 

The Texas Drawl, for example, which is commonly given to hyper-masculine, and  heroic White men, like John Wayne, and the Southern Belle, a white woman of at least middle class status, who is  depicted as either  a simpering, or  fiery, damsel in distress, like Scarlett O’Hara.

In genre movies that take place in Fantasy and Science Fiction settings, the Midwestern accent is still dominant, even if there is no reason why a story set in Medieval England, or Outer Space is filled with Midwestern American speaking people, outside of being the actors hired for those roles. Most of the lead characters in Game of Thrones have either staunch Midwestern, or upper class British accents, when there is no reason for such a class station to be alluded to at all, in such a setting. If the characters in a world based on Medieval European history, can have modern British and Midwestern accents, and not be argued as historically inaccurate, than why not any of the many twangs, drawls, Indigenous, Asian, or even Eastern European accents? Why are posh British accents always used to denote the upper classes and nobility even in fantasy settings?

In the Lord of the Rings movie franchise, Viggo Mortensen is a multilingual actor, of Danish heritage, who speaks with a pronounced American accent in the movie. Of all the accents he could have chosen to use, why use that one? The Hobbits all use a variety of English, and Midwestern accents, that are meant to sound casual, but are still “low class” English, or Midwestern standard (and sometimes both in the same character). Although the movies are shot in New Zealand, none of the primary actors have Kiwi accents, which for the Hobbits would be just as valid as the English and Midwestern accents they’re using.

All of the members of the nobility, for example, including the fantasy creatures, regardless of the region of Middle-Earth, or the culture they’re from, like the elves, and dwarves, have English accents. Now I do understand that many of these accents are the natural voices of the actors hired for the roles, but what is never taken into account by audiences is that, that too, is a choice the creators made. The creators of the movies took the time to have the actors speak invented languages, and they could have easily taken the time to make up accents, but chose not to, which probably means, just like the audience, they didn’t hear it either. They could have taken the time to use different accents, for different cultures, or regions of Middle Earth, but didn’t.

Contrast that decision with the accents used in the movie Black Panther. Yes, the accents are all over the place, but according to some of the countries referenced by dress and custom in the movie, the actors accents are not the real accents of any particular region, or tribe, and as a result, many Africans found the accents funny. The Wakandans do speak something like the real language called Xhosa. The bottom line is someone thought about how the characters should sound, and made a deliberate choice that all the members of the fictional nation of Wakanda, would have a certain accent, while it seems no particular thought was given to the accents of the characters from Lord of the Rings. The actors just all used their natural voices there.

When The TV series The Witcher was announced, there was a great deal of argument about adding people of color to the cast, saying that they didn’t belong in a story based in  Polish folklore, because that would not be “Historically Accurate”. This is an argument I’m getting especially tired of hearing,for stories set in Fantasy settings, that involve elves, dragons, and magic, especially since none of those same  people complained about any of the characters lack of Medieval Polish accents, or the lack of any of the languages of Poland. It’s not accurate for any of the characters to have either American or British accents, but no one complained about them. No one complained, because they are not meant to notice that the  “accentless” accent, of Midwestern America, is actually a very specific, and just as contrived,  accent, aimed at a specific audience the films.

Would we take any of these films as seriously as we do, if all the characters spoke like Cletus, from The Simpsons?

In Star Wars, most of the characters (even robots) have either British or Midwestern accents, as well, and there is no particular reason why no one has a Blaccent, or speaks like they’re from Georgia, Pakistan, or Indonesia, although in Science Fiction, this is changing, as in some of the films, most notably in Rogue One, the actors of color all kept their original accents, from places like Mexico (Diego Luna), and China (Donnie Yen).  At least part of the reason we don’t often hear other types of accents in genre films is those types of actors are rarely chosen for those roles,  the disrespect and mockery of accents outside of the Midwestern standard, and  the fact that British accents are the only accents that generally don’t receive mockery in American culture, (although men with such accents are sometimes coded as villainous gays.)

Asian accents on television and in movies are often subject to ridicule and satire. Starting with Mr. Yunioshi, in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, to Long Duk Dong, in Sixteen Candles, Hollywood has a long, and sordid, history of mocking Asian accents, often using White actors. Asian characters may be stereotyped as  smart, or  “model minorities” in comparison to Black characters, but they are still shown as being less American, through depictions of broken English, ignorance of American culture, and mock languages, like the sing-song noises directed at Asian Americans, even if they were born in America.

Any non-American accents will receive mockery though, no matter what the the race or culture. I’ve caught myself mocking the Australian accent of Steve Irwin, Michael Caine’s Cockney accent, or laughing at fake Irish and Scottish accents. All accents that are considered by mainstream media to be comedic, or just of the “lower classes”.

All this means is that all accents are unworthy, and that the only one that should be respected (or just never noticed at all) is the accentless accent of the Midwest. And let’s be absolutely honest, not even all Midwestern accents are considered equal. The Northern Midwest has its own distinct sound, and is often used in movies as a form of comedy relief.

Here, Amy Walker talks about some of the more common American regional accents.

 

Essentially, the Midwestern accent  is as  ubiquitous, and invisible as whiteness. It is an accent without an accent, it is everywhere, and because its so pervasive, no one can hear it.

Hi Everyone!

I am currently, like a lot of people, in a lockdown city, here in the US, due to the C- 19 pandemic, and I’m not working. Unfortunately, now is also the wrong fucking time to have either the flu, or allergies, both of which are currently kicking my ass, but I am otherwise okay. I live in a predominantly Black neighborhood and although we rarely panic about anything, yes, people are buying lots of toilet paper.

My Mom and I went shopping this weekend, and while there was a very mild air of excitement, kinda like what’s felt before a National holiday, most people were quite calm, and polite. I saw only one woman wearing a face mask, and one guy with rubber gloves. The handful of white People I saw had amassed lots of toilet paper, while the Black customers seemed like they were just buying food for their unexpectedly early, out of school children. Schools will be closed here to the end of the school year, but the kids are still going to be fed, because otherwise the school lunches, that were bought in advance would go to waste, so that’s good. Voting has been postponed til Summer, movie theaters are closed, and I have no idea when I’ll be back to work, although thankfully, I’m one of those people with fully paid leave.

I’m thinking of donating to people without paid leave, so if anyone knows any organizations that will do that, then please hit me up on Tumblr with the details.

I have no intention of talking about the pandemic on this blog, mostly because reliable information can be found everywhere else, and I really don’t have strong feelings about what’s happening. It is what it is, I’m gonna roll with whatever happens, and my white noise about it isn’t going to be helpful. I’m going to continue to post what’s in my queue, talk about movies and shows, and try to be entertaining, with an occasional deep thought.

Lkeke35’s Hot Takes – Weekend Reading

I have a Tumblr blog where I follow certain people and conversations. I’m not on Twitter or Facebook ,as Twitter eats up far too much time, and Facebook is largley useless to me, for talking about issues. I talk about different things on Tumblr than I do here, and I noticed my manner there is more blunt and direct than here. I feel like when I’m on there I need to say what I need to say as fast and with as much clarity as possible, not like here on my own blog, where I can take my time to make my point.

On Tumblr, I can send some quick missives off into the ether, and maybe I’ll get  some feedback, maybe not but its a good way to dash off some thoughts about something before  forget what was being talked about. Here’s a few (largely unedited) hot takes I made in response to whatever issues were being talked about on my dashboard.

Tired Of Superheroes

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These are just the thoughts that occurred to me after I had a conversation with a friend of mine (who is white, btw), and she and I got into a discussion about why she feels anytihng at all about movies she has no plans to ever see, and doesn’t care about. I’m genuinely baffled at the idea of people being angry about  certain types of movies getting released. My friend knows nothing about comic books, or superheroes, so I get her disinterest. If she said she didn’t care for the quality of such films, I would understand, but that’s not what she said.

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine yesterday,and she proclaimed that she was getting really tired of superhero movies, and that they should start making other films. I had to get on her case about that, because I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know how she sounds. Hollywood does make other kinds of movies, but people don’t go see those. She certainly doesn’t go see them. Maybe if she went to see the other kinds of  movies Hollywood makes, they would make more of those types of movies.

First of all how are you going to be mad about Hollywood making movies that you don’t ever go see, and are not particularly interested in? I mean how does it work that you’re upset that other people are making certain types of films popular. I also told her that these kinds of movies are still a relatively new thing, especially since the technology has caught up with out ability to imagine absolutely anything. Its really only been about ten years that this has really been kicking off, and that’s mostly due to the MCU.

Hollywood is going to keep making superhero movies as long as we keep giving them money and making them blockbusters. Now I happen to like superhero movies. I like their action, colors, and inventiveness. I prefer the comedies, and the straight up actioners, and I just enjoy watching the onscreen version of characters I’ve always only ever read about in books, and you know what? I simply don’t pay any attention to movies I’m not interested in. I hate watching Rom Coms, and Hollywood keeps making those, but I’m not angry they are making movies I don’t like. I just don’t go see those films. How you gonna be mad that other people are excited about movies you’re not interested in seeing? I’ve never understand that kind of thinking.

I also think it’s mighty funny that I’ve been hearing this refrain a lot more often, now that women, and poc are starting to get superhero movies made about their favorite characters. I’m not saying people who make such statements are racist, but it doesn’t look good, that the only time I hear so many people talking about how they need to quit making so many superhero movies, is when poc and women start to get theirs. When it was just white men, I heard this complaint a little bit, but not as much as I did after Black Panther was released. Now suddenly after Captain Marvel, and BP, Hollywood needs to stop making these types of movies.. That’s just an interesting observation.

 

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https://fangirlish.com/2020/02/04/queerly-not-straight-prioritizing-white-queer-couples-over-those-of-color/

 

White Feminism in Fandom

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This is part of the continuing conversation to be had on Tumblr where we discuss intersectional feminism in movies and shows.This time it was about the treatment of Uhura, specifically her relationship with Spock, in fandom. Black women on Tumblr are forever trying to get white female fans to understand that the way Women of color are traditionally treated onscreen, is not the same as white women’s treatment,  and how the treatment of black female characters in fandom is often full of racist tropes. As white women you cannot demand the same things of Black female characters that you can of white ones.

What white feminists want is for black Woman to be”strong and not need no man”. Uhura is just supposed to be unloved and single, like she was in the original series, like every black woman in genre narratives. I’ve been watching the original series since I was a little girl.

Don’t get me wrong. I grew up on Spirk, I read a lot of Spirk, and that was my thing for two decades because I knew no one was ever gonna let Uhura be loved, but when I saw that JJ had went there in the new movie, I stood and I applauded.

As a little girl I used to dream about being as beautiful and elegant as Uhura, and I was sure I was gonna marry Spock when I grew up, and I finally got that representation at my old age, but I guess the dreams of little black girls don’t mean shit to white women who just want, yet another, after another, after another, mlm ship, in yet another show!

Teen Wolf, The Flash, Walking Dead, in every single show where there is a black female love interest with the white male lead, white women fans always show their whole duplicitous asses, about the black woman not being worthy of their white male love, and how she should be replaced with any compatible white woman, any same age white male he’s ever locked eyes with more than once, and even the villains who have tried to kill him, and his love interest, multiple times. We’re not talking about your individual ship, or attacking you personally. We’re telling you you need to examine why you need yet another mlm ship in yet another show or movie when fandom has dozens of such examples, all of that while ignoring canon male interracial ships, at that!

Why do all the ships need to be white!

This is a pattern across multiple genres, for more than two decades! This is racism!

Fandom is not the same for black women as it is for white women. The stereotypes for black women are the opposite compared to white women, though the objective of those stereotypes may be the same. Where white women get damseled, we don’t. We get to be strong onscreen, white women don’t. White women in movies get to be brides, while WoC only get to be side pieces, and murder victims.

Ship what you want, but be mindful of what you’re doing. Be mindful of how it looks to black women. Be mindful of what you say in defense of your ship when someone says something to you about. Our biggest issue isn’t always with the shipping you do, it’s the deceitful and racist manner in which y’all defend said ships that piss us the f*ck off!

(Spirk= Spock +Kirk; mlm = men loving men)

 

 

Zazie Beetz as Sophie Dumond in "Joker."

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/lets-talk-about-the-black-women-in-joker_n_5d9605dae4b0da7f6622abc7

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Image result for birds of prey gifs

This was said during a discussion about how the failure of BoP at the box office,(which is not a compete failure, but that’s another discussion), is being spun by the “manosphere” to say that movies that include feminist thoughts and ideas, are all going to be failures. I think this is once again just part of white men’s agenda to only have films made that center them and their needs.

One of the  biggest complaints about BoP before its release was that none of the female characters were sexy. That said, the movie is unapologetically femme! So, the answer to that was “not sexy according to white men, no.” Now that the movie has under performed at the box office, these same men are using that to say that if the movie had given in to their demands to make the female characters sexier for men to look at, it would have done better.

Birds of Prey and Quality Films

 

 

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This was a response to some white guy on Tumblr who was upset about Black people not wanting to interact with white people, calling it racist to not trust them. This sounds exactly like men who are upset that women have difficulty trusting that men won’t hurt them and refusing to interact with them, because as men, they are individual,, special beings, that women  should be able to tell, just by looking, that they would never hurt anyone.

Habitual Foot Steppers

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Every day, PoC in this country have negative, sometimes even violent, interactions with white people. Hell, they probably often have such interactions with members of their own culture, but it’s only white people, especially those who control mainstream public messaging through media, who are constantly advocating that white people are individuals who don’t represent their group, and need to be forgiven for those negative interactions, without a single one of them making any effort to bring those types of interactions to a halt.

In fact, many of them will simultaneously argue that not only should such actions be constantly forgiven, overlooked, or gotten over, they will also insist those interactions don’t happen at all. It’s the equivalent of people stepping on your foot every time they see you, and when you complain, or tell them to stop it, them telling you they didn’t do it, to prove they didn’t step on your foot, and it didn’t happen because they didn’t notice it, or intend to do it. You would naturally be well within your right to not only avoid that people in the future, and probably be more than a little pissed that they didn’t listen to you when you told them they hurt you.

All these different people, from the same cultural group, insist on stepping on your feet, while proclaiming loudly to their audience that not only didn’t they intend to do it, that it’s not hurting you, they didn’t actually do it, and you’re too sensitive and should get over it. And when you get angry about it and avoid them and express resent,ent over their behavior, they call you a racist, for not trusting them, and deciding to protect your feet by avoiding them.

 

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These are some of the hot takes I left on Medium.com. This one was about men who think, if they pursue a woman hard enough, long enough, she will eventually give in to his desires, and this is an idea that is prevalent in Pop culture media.

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Stalking for Love

One of the reasons some men are like this is because they are socialized to do so, from the moment they start consuming the culture. Songs after song, books upon books, movie after movie, and TV shows after show, are really good at imparting one major message. That women are prizes given to them for persistence, correct behavior, owning the right car, shoes, house, and sometimes just for having a penis!

They have been shown again and again, that if they pursue a woman hard enough, stalk her long enough, just keep asking, and asking, and asking, they will eventually wear her down, she will reach enlightenment, and of course, dispense her charms. “No”, in Pop culture, really just means, “Not right now.” or “Keep trying!” This is what they’ve been sold, and you can tell which ones have fully bought it, because they are the ones who get enraged when women go off-script.

They are behaving exactly the way they’ve been taught to behave, having fully, and uncritically, drank the Kool-aid, that persistence wins the girl. Almost nothing in our culture tells men they need to have the correct character, or hold certain virtues. Too much of Pop culture teaches men that they don’t have to be genuinely good, or kind, or gentle men, to attract women. They are taught that women are fickle creatures that need to be tricked, or hounded into wanting them.

This is not a hard and fast rule because there are plenty of men who have, somehow, managed to avoid this kind of thinking, but it is definitely an element in the thinking of these kind of men. I don’t think there is a causality, so much as a life long influence.

 

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White Fragility

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These responses I wrote as comments on Medium.com.

Both of these responses ended up being tangentially related to each other. The first  was a response to an article about White people’s hypocrisy in calling PoC racist, whenever we express any form of unhappiness (or sarcasm) at the existence of White people in a public sphere. I  remember that Asian woman who lost her journalism job over tweets she made years ago, where she joked about white people. It is important to keep in mind that these people are reacting to things that progressives have been doing, and its been the tactic recently of marginalized people not  just to  talk back to the kinds of people who victimize us on social media, and in public, but to see that such people be ostracized by society, by contacting their families and employers.

This particular article was about a young African American woman, who made a public statement about there being too many white people in her college’s Multicultural Center, and white (mostly men) opinionators in the news media, having a full on meltdown,  and calling her a racist. For the record, I think what she said was kind of stupid, but it doesn’t make her a racist. It just makes her very young and silly.

Since reactionaries have a tendency to lack imagination, they have this nasty thing where they appropriate the tactics that have traditionally been used by marginalized people to fight their oppression. Its especially galling when such people use those same tactics against, not just the people who invented the tactics, but whom they have traditionally bullied. Marginalized people invented the tactics out of desperation, to teach a lesson, or to make the harm  they cause have consequences, but what reactionaries are doing (as so much of their behavior is often motivated)  out of pure spite.

1.

I definitely think this is a backlash against white people being called out for everything they’ve gotten wrong for centuries. They’ve  been calling everyone who isn’t white, straight, or a man, nasty slurs, since the invention of American English. They still do that on the regular today, and these same people are the ones who like to argue about saying the N*word, but let some anonymous black girl make a dubious statement, and they lose the entirety of their shit! I’d be angrier, except it’s amazing to behold.

But then: Never, in the history of this country, have white people been spoken back to, and challenged, by marginalized people, in such great numbers, as much as they have, since the invention of the internet.

(Every time they say anything, they are reminded that white people have caused an incredible amount of damage to other people, and are still doing it. No one likes to be called out for behavior they have always known is wrong, but are  reluctant to change, because they derive  emotional benefits that they are unwilling to acknowledge, what Du Bois called “the psychological wages of whiteness.”)

And this isn’t like before, where your garden variety white person was largely unaware of all this “talking back”, and could simply quash any talking back, they encountered by screaming, and extreme violence. Now its impossible to not know how marginalized people feel, and our pushback against oppression, and injustice, is often immediate, and intense. They are working desperately to reestablish their equilibrium, by upholding the status quo. But someone once said to me, that’s what Conservative means: to conserve. To keep things as they were.

They’re so used to simply ignoring any form of oppression, but now it’s constantly being thrown in their face. They can’t ignore it anymore. (This is mass white fragility (rather than individual).

2.

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.

Image result for getting old

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

Image result for cash grab

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:

Image result for generic white guy

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.

…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…

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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

********

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

********

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
image
  • 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