American Gods Season One: The Secret of Spoons

Shadow’s savior from the last episode is nowhere to be found, and Wednesday  was holed up in a hotel, putting his thing down. Shadow gets himself patched up, (note the wound in his side), and he confronts Wednesday about what happened to him, and although Wednesday tells him he is angry about it, he is otherwise non-committal. The funeral over, Shadow still alive, they continue their road trip. Next stop: Chicago.

 

Thoth

 Ibis -Demore Barnes

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The first god we see is Ibis, in every episode, also known as Thoth. In Egyptian mythology he was the scribe of the gods. In most traditional depictions he has the head of an ibis bird, with a long curved beak. This Ibis has a human head and round, rimless glasses. When the show opens, he’s writing a history of Odin, the All-Father of Norse mythology, god of war, wisdom, and poetry, among a host of  other things. In the second episode he’s writing how Anansi came to America, on what else? A slave ship!

You may remember Demore Barnes as one of the serial killers, in the series, Hannibal. We’ll get to see more of Ibis, later in the series,  when Shadow finally meets him.

 

Odin
Mr. Wednesday- Ian McShane

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On Odin: http://www.uppsalaonline.com/odin.htm

According to legend, Odin sacrificed his left eye in exchange for a drink from the Well of Wisdom (which we may be encountering in a later episode.) And yes, Mr. Wednesday has a glass eye. Odin is also a god of war, so that’s part of the reason he’s traveling around, trying to get all these other gods to commit to a war with the noobs.

When we meet Odin, he looks like he’s  fallen on hard times, but he’s a con man, and we’ll get to see more of this in the third episode, in one of the book’s best scenes, the Bank Heist. We already saw him con his way into a first class ticket on the plane where he met Shadow. According to Mr. Wednesday conning people is: “… all about getting people to believe in you. It’s not the cash, it’s the faith.” Bilquis does something like this too, so pay close attention to the various ways the old gods get people to believe in them vs how the new gods get people’s belief. As far as I can tell the new gods of media and technology seem to rely on hype-men, while the old ones have to do it all by themselves.

Pay attention to the use of transition scenes. They’re usually done by pointing the camera skyward, before moving to the next destination in the narrative. In particular, pay close attention to weather phenomena as it relates to Shadow’s presence, or when transitioning from a scene in which he was just speaking.

In this episode, we learn that Wednesday hates telephones and highways. I get why he’d hate telephones, as that’s a direct connection to Technical Boy, and he can’t have that. I do wonder about the real reason he won’t use highways. Is there a highway god? It makes sense that in America there would be car gods and highway gods.

Since Wednesday can’t call to make his plans, he has to meet everyone face to face. He sends Shadow off to buy gifts  for Czernobog and Zorya Sisters, and while he’sshopping, Shadow meets Media, played by Gillian Anderson.

God name: Bilquis – Yetide Badaki

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Bilquis, the woman in red, is what’s left of the Queen of Sheba, not technically a goddess, but worshiped for her beauty and power. In this episode, we witness a montage of her consumption of  various men and women. The way its shown, she appears to be ravenous. We don’t know how long her vigor lasts after she eats, but we’re given the idea that these events happen over the course of several hours or days.

We also get to see what’s inside her magical va-jay-jay. I won’t tell you what, but it is pretty awesome, and you understand why her partners are so ecstatic about  what’s happening to them. I thought this was hilarious but I have weird humor. This show is Bryan Fuller completely unleashed. There is full frontal in this episode, along with  dick pics. If you have delicate  sensibilities, you may want toskip this series.

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Later, we see Bilquis visiting the  display at a museum, of a fertility statue, supposedly of her, and she has  enough power to rearrange a display of gemstones, thought to be representative of her, with her telekinetic powers, (this isn’t something from the book), and I wonder if that was what all her extra feeding was about, just so she could have the power to do that. At any rate, we get a glimpse of how powerful she is, in that scene.

Loki

 Low Key Lyesmith- Jonathan Tucker (from episode one)

Mr. World – Crispin Glover

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Once you start looking for them,  most of the people Shadow encounters are actually ancient gods. His friend in prison, played by Jonathan Tucker, goes by the name Low Key Lyesmith. We saw him in the first episode when Shadow was in prison. I said initially that Mr. World was Loki, and he is. Low Key is just who he was, when he was  in prison with Shadow.

In prison, Lyesmith is preoccupied by the lack of hangings in America, “no gallows dirt, no gallows deals.” This doesn’t make much sense to Shadow, but it makes more sense if you consider that  he’s Odin’s blood brother. Odin is the gallows god, too. He  sacrificed himself by swinging from a noose tied to a branch of Yggdrasil, the great World Tree of Norse legend, which sneaks into Shadow’s dreams, and is represented by the tree on which Shadow was lynched, at the end of episode one. In exchange for nine days and nights in the noose, Odin received some of the greatest secrets of existence. Shadow hung on the tree briefly, but is about to be privy to a great revelation; the existence of gods.

Jonathan Tucker is also an alumnus of Hannibal. He played another serial killer,who tried to hang Hannibal, and was shot by Jack Crawford.


Buffalo Man
Voiced by: Ian McShane

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In addition to the great tree, Shadow keeps having visions of a talking Buffalo, with flames spurting out of his eyes.  The Buffalo isn’t a god. He’s the land, (or so he tells Shadow toward the end of the book). But he’s god enough to need the same thing all the rest of them need: Faith. He has one piece of advice for the dreaming Shadow: Believe.

I initially thought this vision was one of the Plains Indians Buffalo legends.

http://www.native-languages.org/legends-buffalo.htm


Anansi
 Mr. Nancy- Orlando Jones

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In one of the greatest introductions of any character in a Bryan Fuller Joint, we get to see another Coming to America story. Anansi is a trickster god who originated with the Ashanti people, from what is now Ghana. He’s often depicted as a spider; here, in 1697, crossing the Atlantic in the belly of a slave ship, he’s dressed in a loud plaid suit and depicted as a messenger from the future. He’s the god of all stories, and he’s got an important tale to tell this group of men: “Once upon a time, a man got fucked,” he begins.“That’s the story of black people in America.” He then launches into a rousing speech , and I totally smell an Emmy nom in Orlando Jones’ future.

*Every once in a while, a monologue comes along that seems destined to be recited by theater students and auditioning actors until the sun burns out. Tonight, Starz’s Neil Gaiman adaptation American Gods granted the world such a monologue and put it in the mouth of Orlando Jones. As Mr. Nancy, the well-dressed, anthropomorphization of African trickster spider-god Anansi, he delivers a blistering soliloquy to a ship full of slaves on their way to colonial America and it seems writ by fire, torching the lies we tell ourselves about the ways black people are treated in the U.S. Continue reading “American Gods Season One: The Secret of Spoons”

Representation Matters (Pt. 2)

*It’s not enough for PoC to be included in the narrative. They also have to have character, not just be a character. Also, the more people of color in the narrative the less likely the writers (who are almost always NOT PoC) will resort to stereotypes, or rather the number of PoC in the narrative will help to ameliorate any stereotypes that are present.

It’s also important for PoC to be behind the scenes. It’s hard to create action stars  when there aren’t enough PoC as stunt doubles. It’s difficult to have authentic environments of PoC when seen through the lens of white male writers who are too lazy to do the proper research (We’re looking at you Scott Buck!), and even if they did, would never be able to capture all the details and nuances of being a recent Chinese immigrant, a transgender Latina, or a gay Black man. I’m not saying that white people can’t write these characters, but a lot  of them either don’t know, or care enough, to get their shit right.

When white women began writing more movies and TV shows, we started to getting more nuanced,  authentic, portrayals of white women in movies, and the same thing happens when PoC write and star in their own stories. For example, what makes the Luke Cage series stand out as an iconic depiction of Black life, is that the creators are Black themselves, and are aware of all the tiny details, of Black life, that would be missed by white writers, to whom none of those details would even occur.

One of the reasons Into the Badlands looks as rich as it does is because Asian men are the showrunners and the stunt crew. Now compare this show to Iron Fist, where the white writers didn’t seem to kgive a damn that a show (and character) so steeped in Orientalist culture, about a white man who learns Kung Fu, doesn’t actually feature the Kung Fu very well, or any of the Asian culture on which the character is based, and a showrunner who  seemed indifferent to what fight scenes there were. Scott Buck cared  so little about the show’s action scenes, that he didn’t give  his star, Finn Jones, enough time to practice so he could shine in those scenes. If you have a Martial Arts character named Iron Fist, and you don’t showcase the action, youre gonna get booed. I’m just sayin’.

Even White people ( as much as we hear about the racist ones who seem to hate diversity in media) actually crave different types of stories. I’ve come across the occasional essay by White people lamenting  the lack of variety in movies, and TV shows. They want something different from the “bland white guy gets the call to adventure” type of  story. They too want to see stories like Hidden Figures, and Moonlight, rather than yet another story of a white man’s growing pains in the Midwest, or another romantic comedy where the spunky, young, white actress of the moment, eventually hooks up with the bland, white guy, she initially hated.

We understand that Hollywood is a business and will keep trying  to give us the same product they have successfully sold us many times, but with the studios bottom lines beginning to suffer, it’s time for them to be less conservative, and much more daring. Yes, movies cost a lot of money, and people are loathe to risk not getting a return on their investment, but they’re losing money now, and need to try some new things.

Well, they could at least try making the same old movies, just without the same twenty five White actors we’ve been seeing.

 

reblogged

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results…

I’m not celebrating or sad.  This is emblematic of a huge shift in entertainment media that will progress with or without those who stubbornly adhere to old myopic ways.

They happened upon that wave early and let it wash past them instead of surfing it out of pure hubris, color-blindness, and stubbornness.

Sleepy Hollow came before Hamilton, Queen Sugar, Underground, Insecure, Atlanta, American Gods, Luke Cage, Get Out, Moonlight, and the upcoming, A Wrinkle in Time…  Black people and other marginalized groups are increasingly occupying genres and spaces they’ve rare-to-never been leads in, where they are having their perspectives and feelings served, instead of serving a white man’s story, as so many fans have been starved to see.

Such is business that if there is a need that will make money, it will eventually be filled by someone(s) if you choose not to.

That’s what I got out of this debacle.

That and, when you cater to a singular perspective for a long, long, time, no matter how new or “fresh” a spin you think you have on it, it’s probably been done and is trite, boring, and even offensive in its refusal to treat anyone who isn’t a white guy like they matter.

In other words, the exclusion of the other being central to these narratives for so long created this condition where those very narrow white boy dreams are getting staler and staler to audiences.

They aren’t the first white male writers and producers left dumbstruck and scratching their heads wondering what the hell happened after treating everything who isn’t the central white dude like shit and they won’t be the last.

You either evolve or get left behind.

(The show being referenced above is Sleepy Hollow, a show which had been lauded in its first and second seasons, but has just been canceled after its fourth season, after fans learned how the showrunners had been mistreating its female lead, and then unceremoniously, and without  warning, killed off her character. All I have left  to say about that is: They gon’ learn!)

 

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13 Times Hollywood Made Totally Racist Casting Decisions

In the 2015 box office bomb, Stone’s character Captian Allison Ng is written as being one quarter Chinese and one quarter Hawaiian. Many viewers of the film accused the filmmakers of whitewashing the cast, as Stone doesn’t belong to either heritage. The director of the film, Cameron Crowe, released the following as a statement: “I have heard your words and your disappointment, and I offer you …
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*I laughed at this waaay too hard:
Chris Pine’s SNL monologue reminds us how bad Hollywood’s superhero diversity problem is:
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Alright, this was just hilarious for me:
What diversity actually is:
How Hollywood sees diversity:
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*That’s it! The next time I see some fan whinging about Historical accuracy, in a movie that casts any POC, I’m gonna have to (digitally) punch ’em in the side of the neck. 
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  • White actors cast as ancient Egyptian kings: “I know they weren’t white but it doesn’t have to be historically accurate to be a good movie. They should just hire the best person for the job!”
  • Black actor suggested to play fictional white character:“James Bond has always been white! I don’t care how good of an actor he is, you can’t just change history!!!”
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*I think I mentioned this one on somebody’s comments section, that the vast media machine that exists in the US is pretty much geared towards one group of people and that is middle-class, White, cis-gender, and straight, but without any religious connotations. I really only noticed this while watching TV commercials. 
Now remember, the reason why we have television shows at all, is to make us watch ads for the sponsors of those shows. Television can exist without ads (otherwise there’s be no HBO, or Netflix) but you have to pay for it out of your own pocket (subscriptions). The companies that sponsor these showsaim their ads specifically at White middle class people because that’s who, or so they believe, has all the money. Its pretty much been like this since the invvention of the TV. Middle class people were the only ones who could afford TVs anyway. In order to catch those White, middle-class, eyeballs, they created shows geared towards reflecting their lifestyles, which is why the vast majority of television shows feature White, middle-class, often urban professionals. Those are the people that advertisers want, have always wanted.
Several things not taken into account; as TVs became more affordable to the working class, and then the poor, people who are not members of the prevailing socio-economic class would see those lifestyles as something they wanted to attain. Advertisers were quick to grasp that idea and started sponsoring shows geared towards working class whites, but only a few, and mostly comedies. The vast majority of shows featured White men, in some lucrative, but  unspecified city job (Quick! What did Leave it Beaver’s Dad do for a living?), doctors, lawyers, and the occasional detective. The shows reflected the lifestyles people lived, were trying to attain, or power fantasy stories for White men, like Westerns and Police stories. 
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Case in point!
Since the eighties though, television programmers decided that the most lucrative dollar to chase, was the White male, aged 18-35. Just about every form of media, outside of magazines, in the eighties and well into the nineties, was geared towards this specific demographic. Most, if not all of TV, movies, and most forms of music, was aimed at getting these young, white men to spend their money. These young men liked sex and violence, or so it was determined by programmers, so they made movies, and TV shows, about people having sex, and committing acts of violence. Just look at any of the comedies that were released during the eighties. Anybody else who happened to be ewatching these programs were mostly disregarded. (This was not a hard and fast rule.  
There were some things geared towards non-White people, whenever White programmers and Ad-men remembered that  the rest of us had money, they would sponsor a comedy, or made for TV movie, which explains Roots and The Jeffersons.) When it was discovered that these same young white men liked Rap music, advertisers began sponsoring more shows and movies with those themes, although initially, these things were aimed at Black people, (which is how we ended up with movies like Friday, and Boyz in the Hood.)
This is not to say that nothing was aimed at non-Whites. There were a few shows and movies aimed at women, Blacks, and the occasional Latinx,  but they were rare. Occasionally some “Actor of Color” would blow up in the media and manage to get a film career out of it, which explains Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy. And the entire time, everyone of every color, was inundated with racist stereotypes of everyone who wasn’t White, sexist lies and tropes about women, and lots and lots of jokes, at gay and transgender people’s expense. 
*And in a not-unrelated post on the racial dynamics of Hollywood movies, Teej lays it all bare, but without my polite indoor voice.

It’s time to kill the idea of white women as leads in movies as “baby steps! :)” toward inclusion of women of color and that WoC and PoC generally need to pay to see these films otherwise Hollywood will never include WoC/more PoC because “Hollywood only listens to money.”

People proffering this argument are either gullible, not paying attention, have no understanding of how racism works in Hollywood, or all three.

Hollywood knows that Black movies and shows make money (I’m focusing on Blackness because it’s what I know and antiblackness exists in all communities). Straight Out of Compton made money, Selma made money, 12 Years a Slave made money, Tyler Perry’s movies make money (much to my chagrin), and those are just some recent ones. There is a history of Black cinema and films that made money. Empire, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder are led by Black women and Empire has a predominately Black cast, and they’re wildly popular shows.

Black people and other PoC have money and we have and will continue to spend it in theaters to see films that feature us. HOLLYWOOD IS WELL AWARE OF THIS. Stop believing and proliferating their tired excuses and lies.

The issue is that Hollywood only cares about a specific type of money: white money.  

When Hollywood refuses to put Black women and men and other PoC in lead roles in upcoming Blockbusters it’s because they don’t think white people will relate to or be comfortable with the idea of PoC as heroes. It’s not just about money (because Black people and other PoC will definitely spend money to see those films), it’s about whiteness. It’s the WHITE DOLLAR and the white audience that these studios are after and are worried about losing. They know that white people have difficulty empathizing with Black people and other PoC. They know that white people only find Black led films palatable if there’s a BLATANT NEED OR REASON that the lead/cast is Black.

That is why, due to white racism, Hollywood is only comfortable telling one kind of story of Blackness (and stereotypical stories about other PoC). So they’ll acknowledge films about slavery (usually as long as there’s one white savior), they’ll allow comedic films about Black folks, they’ll allow films about Black sports legends, etc. because they know that these kinds of images are largely palatable to white people. Occasionally, when a Black actor like Will Smith reaches mainstream appeal (read: white people no longer see them as “just Black”),  they’ll let him be the hero in a Blockbuster or two (Independence Day, Men in Black, etc) as long as he’s accompanied by enough white people to make the white audience feel comfortable.

White women have lead movies in all genres because they are white, not because Hollywood is taking “baby steps! :)” to becoming more racially inclusive. It is in furtherance of whiteness and white supremacy that white women are chosen to lead instead of PoC. Implicit in the argument that white women “need to go first” is the reality that whiteness is privileged. Continuing to privilege that whiteness is never going to lead to acceptance of PoC, especially not WoC, because widening the scope of which white people can access the privileges usually afforded to cishet white men will never lead to inclusion of WoC, least of all, Black women. Hierarchies need someone at the bottom.

This is especially obvious when white women are given roles based on characters or real women who are not white (Katniss, Tiger Lily, Angelina Jolie in blackface as Mariane Pearl in A Mighty Heart, etc).

Hollywood is built on continuing to sell white people the fantasy of them being heroic protagonists with sidekicks of color, and if they can’t be the protagonist, they must be the white savior. These stories are the ones white people time and time again will pay to see.

When you understand all of this, it is clear that progress isn’t going to come because Black people and other PoC support white lady led films. That idea is frankly laughable. Hollywood has been making lily white films since the dawn of film without any concern as to whether Black people and other PoC will pay to see them.

Change will only come when white folks show that they will support films led by WoC and other PoC as more than tokens following/supporting the white dude/lady protagonist. And these WoC need to visibly be of color–these white passing women getting leading roles are just further example of how whiteness is what is truly at work here, not just money.

There’s a reason why Black folks have a whole host of Black led movies we can reference and laugh about together that we saw in theaters and that made money that white people don’t know the first thing about: because white people by and large do not support films with black/other poc leads/casts.

So, instead of all these White Feminists ™ telling Black women and other WoC that we need to hand over our cash to support yet another white lady lead in hopes that we might one day get a WoC lead, white people need to demonstrate that they will support a WoC lead.  Get on Twitter and Facebook and ask these studios why they cast yet another white lady. Spend your white money on a film with a Black/other PoC lead/cast. Stop spending your money on these typical white male hero movies. Stop patting Hollywood on the back for doing the most basic shit and stop praising them for only spotlighting white women as if it’s opening the door for anything other than more white women.

In short, Black women and other PoC not supporting white lady led films is not the problem. The problem is white people not supporting WoC and other PoC led films. We are not the problem. You are.

Yeah, this is all bumming me out, so I know its probably bumming you out too. So here, have a Spidercat!
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Weekend Reading Assignments

Here I am, providing you guys with some enjoyable, and enlightening, reading material for the weekend. This should tide you over, until I make a post about something a little more substantial, Monday.

 

*This post is about one of my favorite action series, John Wick, and how it compares to the action films of the 80s.

At one point or another, every major movie site gets around to detailing  the collapse of the modern action movie star. Gone are the bulked up action stars of the eighties who could sell a fight sequence just by looking the part of a demi-god. Gone too are the slow-motion gunfights and myriad of squibs that contemporized the gunfight. In an era where the studio is the star and special effects are limited only by the imagination of those coding them, there isn’t a lot of room for standouts and signature styles.

From: https://wordpress.com/post/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/57342

Continue reading “Weekend Reading Assignments”

Born Sexy Yesterday

This video showed up on my Tumblr dashboard and I just had to share it. I love the way this blogger’s mind works. It’s something that’s been bothering me about romantic comedies, some of which are dressed up as sci-fi and fantasy movies,  for a long time, but I wasn’t able to clearly articulate the concept.

This trope is also called by another name: the  “infantilization” of female characters, and it also encompasses the tropes of the “dumb blonde”, and the “sexy schoolgirl”.

Well, the Pop Culture Detective (this is a series) has thoroughly articulated this problem for me. He basically breaks down the trope of the sexy, but naively innocent female character that the primary male character always falls in love with, lists the films that follow the trope, the films that turn it on its head, and briefly discusses its origins in colonialism. The video is some 18 minutes long, and I’m warning you, some of the imagery from past movies is astonishingly cringeworthy!


Now the Pop Culture Detective is a white man, so I don’t expect him to go into details on issues of race, although he is aware enough to briefly mention  the tropes racist origins.  One of the things you will notice in the images is the overwhelming whiteness of this trope. The trope may have been birthed in the racist stereotypes of Indigenous women, but for the past fifty, sixty years white women have embodied it. During that time period, when Europe was trying to collect as many countries as possible, this particular trope came  from stereotypes of Native women being innocent and/or subservient, but sexy,  savages.

https://lookinginthepopularculturemirror.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/the-portrayal-of-indigenous-women-in-popular-culture/

These are tropes that continue to this day, (and a few of those tropes  find their way into the primal black person stereotype with terms like “jungle fever”). The article below by Mediasmarts, has  managed to connect these  sexualized stereotypes to media tropes such as “Missing White Woman Syndrome”, to explain why the lives of missing, raped, or murdered Brown , Black  and Indigenous women, are ignored by news reports.


http://mediasmarts.ca/diversity-media/aboriginal-people/media-portrayals-missing-and-murdered-aboriginal-women

You may also recognize, if you’ve ever visited the website We Hunted the Mammoth, most of the talking points of MRAs and other misogynists. Many of their beliefs about women, (that they are like children who need a firm guidance from men, that their “hypergamous” sluts, whose sexuality needs to be tightly reined in, that women are stupid, and shouldn’t be allowed to engage in society they way men do) are little more than wish fulfillments, aimed squarely at white women,  and it’s not difficult to believe that a lot of their beliefs have been informed by seventy years of media depicting white women in this manner.

One of the arguments being had, across social media, is marginalized people trying to convince White people that everything we see in the media is representative of the real world.  Media stereotypes not only mirror real world beliefs and activities, but actually aided and abetted the formation of such beliefs.

When the stories of PoC are told through a White male lens (as so much of Hollywood is), these types of issues are ignored, because the creators neither know, nor care, and  illustrates why it’s so important for PoC to also work behind the scenes, not just in front of the cameras, to tell our  own stories, from our own perspectives.

 

Why I’m Not Watching The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu Series)

For personal reasons, I won’t be watching this series, which airs on Hulu this month. I have developed  a thing about dystopias. I’m largely no longer interested in any of them. The only one I’m currently watching is The Walking Dead. I haven’t added  any more to my roster of shows.  (I’m not sure if Into the Badlands counts.)

The current argument from most PoC, even those who are fans of dystopian narratives, is that some of us have always lived in one. Certainly, the past is one huge dystopia for Black (Jim Crow), Latinx (Zoot Suit Riots), and Asian Internment camps), and Gay, and Transgender people, in this country. It’s been said that White people can  look forward and see  dystopian futures. Marginalized people have only to look at history.

Here in the US, it’s the 25th anniversary of the 1992 LA riots. The riots resulted in millions of dollars worth of damage, with over 50 people dead, and nearly 2,000 people injured. I remember I was in college at the time. I watched the beating of Rodney King when it occurred months earlier, listened to the announcement of the acquittal, and sat there watching the entire riot, appalled at what I was seeing. I remember feeling terrified (even though what was happening wasn’t anywhere near me). It felt like the end of the world, when it was happening. And I was angry, because I’m a person who knows  some history, and I understood why these people were mad as Hell. Unlike most White people, I had been paying attention to what came before the riots, and what had been happening in that environment, for years.

Last night, National Geographic aired a three  hour documentary of the LA riots, and I wanted to watch part of it. I was a bit nervous because I know that the documentary was made by White people, specifically White men, and not only  have they a long history of only telling news stories from their own perspective, I expected a certain amount of cluelessness and  bias in favor of the police. I expected the documentary to focus only on the actual rioting and violence, and mention none of what led up to that violence, (because White Americans have mastered the art of ignoring the things Black people say they are actually mad about, in favor of just making shit up.)

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the most of the doc was well done. Not exactly blalnced but not as bad as I thought it would be. There could have been a little more emphasis on the fact that it wasn’t just Black people involved, and why  the Korean shopkeepers got caught in the crossfire, but the parts I did see weren’t actually awful. I didn’t finish the show because I don’t actually need to watch a documentary about something I  witnessed, (and American Gods was on.)

Remember, the LA riots wasn’t like Ferguson, or any of the riots that have happened in the time of social media. We didn’t have social media back then. There were no reports from people, in the thick of things, tweeting about what was happening, in real time. The only way the rest of the world knew what was happening was through mainstream news reports by the talking heads who were witnesses. I have never trusted the mainstream media because it has historically aided and abetted the violent  stereotypes of PoC. Its the news media’s reliance on spectacle, that has  lead to the depiction of Black people as violent savages, that has given  impetus to racist beliefs that Black people are animals, and coverage during the riots, without any focus on the cause, just gave more fuel to those beliefs.

Note: I have lived in Black neighborhoods my entire life and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually witnessed a violent act. I have never committed an act of violence myself, or had one committed against me. This may be higher for  Black people in other parts of the country, or lower, but the bottom line is, unless you’ve lived in our neighborhoods and been part of our culture, you have no fucking idea what being Black in America is like, and the only information you could possibly have about us, are  biased news reports, from a media that benefits monetarily from telling White people horror stories about Black misery. I live in the Midwest. Its not a utopia, by any means, but its no more, or less, hellish than any other part of the US. and certainly nothing like the slice of hell the media would have everyone believe. (Nor is it the privileged party-fest that bigots would have you believe either.)

I’ll give you an example: I grew up in Cleveland Ohio, at the height of the Crips/ Bloods/Crack era that was happening on the East and West coasts, in the late eighties. We heard about it, but it was distant. It didn’t affect our everyday lives. We believed it was happening though, not because of what the mainstream news reported, but because we had an entire genre of rap songs chronicling the shit that was happening in those cities. Rap music was like news reports telling what happened to Black people in other parts of the country.

I watched the mainstream news with my Mom, and I noticed the news media was always trying to play up Cleveland’s gang problem. So desperate were White people in  Cleveland  to be seen as being as cosmopolitan as NY and LA, they were willing to invent problems Cleveland didn’t actually have.

Remember, I was a teenager during all of this, and I lived, worked, and played around the same neighborhoods they were pointing their fingers at, and  saw no evidence that there were gangs. Sure, there were young men who hung out together on street corners, and front stoops. I knew those guys, said hello to them all the time, got catcalled by them (as I was a PYT back then). They weren’t gang members. Were there guys who hung around and got into trouble together? Sure. I wouldn’t have classified them as a gang. (They didn’t have colors, insignia and personal graffiti, although sometimes they named themselves, and had parties.) Were there guys who wished they were a gang? Sure. Were there guys who got together to sell some drugs? Yep. Was there crack in our neighborhoods. Probably! Although I’ve never witnessed, nor encountered, a “crackhead”, and I’ve lived near the “projects” my whole life, and had friends who lived in them. None of these people were gangbangers. I met a gangbanger once. I worked with him during one of my Summer jobs. He seemed like a nice enough fellow. We talked about politics a lot. He didn’t seem inordinately angry about  the various issues of the day.

And yet, “violent”  is all some people think they know, or need to know, about our lives, trotting out that hoary old trope of “Black on Black crime”  at every opportunity, as some kind of gotcha, in conversations about racial politics.

Okay, I’m getting off point. My point was that I’m off  dystopian futures, for the most part, because  I like to maintain hope for the future. I’ve seen what happens when people lose that hope (and I’ve been there myself). I’ve seen those studies discussing the rise of drug use, and suicide among White men. Some people have theorized that part of the reason the death rate has risen, for that particular group of men, is because they have lost hope for a future in which being a White male is no longer the easiest player setting in the game of life.

Another reason I won’t be watching A Handmaids Tale is because Black people have actually experienced a dystopian past, but the  movies and books  lack PoC. White writers are willing to mine their sordid past, only to cast White people in the roles of the oppressed, when historically, its always been everyone else on the receiving end of that oppression. The Handmaid’s Tale is basically dystopian fiction which casts White women in the roles that Black women used to inhabit. So many of White people’s nightmares about the future seem to involve being treated the way they have  treated others.

In the original story by Margaret Atwood, America has been taken over by a religious sect of men. Due to environmental pollution, most women have become infertile. Instead of fixing the problem though, their solution is to enslave all the fertile White women, and force them to have  children. Women who are not considered fertile are killed or enslaved, they can no longer have jobs, read books, or go out in public without blinders. In the book, almost no mention is made of Black people, who are called the Children of Ham, except to mention their relocation elsewhere. Homosexuality is outlawed and punishable by death, women who refuse to adapt to their assigned roles are also executed. There’s even a kind of “underground railroad” to spirit women away into Canada.

I’ve seen people trying, unsuccessfully, to compare this to Sharia Law, when there’s no need for that, because we have examples right here. This is not a new story. America has already done these things to Black women. (See: 12 Years A Slave).  Atwood’s story entirely leaves out this angle of the narrative. (The streaming series is doing something different, but almost as traumatic, by including Black women, but  not mentioning race at all.)

I won’t be watching A Handmaid’s Tale because the trauma of what happens in that show is already real for Black people. We’ve already lived through it. It was only about fifty or so years ago that Mississippi had one of the highest rates of lynching in the US. My mother was born in Miss. in 1950. She had six brothers. Ours was one of the lucky families that managed to emigrate to the North, when she was about ten years old. My grandmother did that because she wanted all her children to grow up, and they had a far less chance of doing so in Mississippi, at that time. My family’s move to the North is a direct result of racist activities, during the Jim Crow era, in my mother’s lifetime.

My grandmother had spent much her life under Jim Crow, and would have spent the rest of her life in Miss., had she not been afraid for her children’s lives. I was too  young and scared to ask her for stories about the things she’d seen, and experienced. You see, my grandmother had already lived through the dystopian fictions that White people find so entertaining to cast themselves in now.

I’m no longer watching movies that are about Black misery, and consequently I refuse to watch any more movies, and shows, about Black misery that only feature White people.

Okay, that’s enough rambling from me.

Here! Have some links!

*These are specifically about the intersection of race and sexism in A Handmaid’s Tale

Now, the TV series makes a point of adding a woman of color to the story, in the character of Moira. In the book, Moira is a lesbian, who opts to become a Handmaiden, rather than be sent to The Colonies.

In the books, Moira is openly rebellious, and after several escape attempts, is sent to a life of enslaved prostitution. In the series, she is played by Samira Wiley, who is most famous for playing the character Poussey, a lesbian convict, in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Her character was unceremoniously killed off that show, which raised some controversy, as it fell into the trope of  Kill All Your Gays. If the show follows the books, then no! I have no urge to see yet another Black woman be degraded to a life of sexual servitude.

http://www.easyvegan.info/2008/07/31/the-handmaids-tales-race-ethnicity-and-sexual-orientation-gilead-is-a-society-of-isms/

http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2015/01/the-handmaids-tale-and-bad-slavery-comparisons/

http://www.fouronesixlit.com/2016/03/26/living-in-the-gaps-between-the-stories-race-at-the-margins-of-the-handmaids-tale/

https://nursingclio.org/2017/04/26/a-post-racial-gilead-race-and-reproduction-in-hulus-the-handmaids-tale/

<I>Handmaid's Tale</i> Series EP Explains Removal of White Supremacy Element

 

This particular essay, in the Atlantic, is an excellent summation of something I touched on in the post above. White people keep looking to the past for a utopia, and to the future for their more nightmarish scenarios. Dystopia seems to be a matter of perspective.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/04/why-sci-fi-keeps-imagining-the-enslavement-of-white-people/361173/

https://www.modernghana.com/news/756213/parable-of-the-sower-not-1984-is-the-dystopia-for-our-a.html


A series of articles on the Whiteness, and heteronormativity of  Dystopian futures

https://ladygeekgirl.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/the-100-and-the-privileged-dystopia/

http://powderroom.kinja.com/on-the-erasure-of-people-of-colour-from-dystopian-ficti-1565047386

http://blog.leeandlow.com/2014/05/07/where-are-the-people-of-color-in-dystopias/

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/11/the-topics-dystopian-films-wont-touch/382509/

https://beyoungandshutup.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/who-run-the-dystopian-world-white-girls-racial-diversity-in-dystopian-ya/

Racism in Pop Culture

And here’s my monthly series of articles discussing  the intersection of race and pop culture.

First up, an essay about Westworld from the point of view of a Black man. I touched on some issues earlier with the depiction of Black and White women in Westworld’s dynamic, and its been one of my most popular essays,  but this article is a  discussion of the real world racial dynamics of Westworld, most specifically between Arnold/Bernard, and Robert Ford.

Race. Power. Westworld.

HBO’s sci-fi drama Westworld was a psychological mind f*ck of a show revolving around issues of control, power, violence and love. But there wasn’t a single moment in the show that focused on race despite the fact there are a multitude of racial politics in play. I don’t know if this is because the script was written without race in mind and the casting choices informed the racial dynamics or not. But I came away from the show a bit disappointed that the writers never chose to tackle racial motivations as the show evolved. The interaction between Arnold/Bernard and Ford is ripe with implications of power and race while the park itself seems to be no more than a #MAGA fever dream.

https://stillcrew.com/race-power-westworld-fd97c8a2a6b4


In this article, Zoe Kravitz, the daughter of Lenny Kravitz, and Lisa Bonet, brings the fire, about the roles available for Black women in Hollywood. The irony is that this article came from a British newspaper. 

Zoë Kravitz: ‘Why do stories happen to white people and everyone else is a punchline?’

  • August 20th, 2015

The actor has been stranded on the edges of blockbusters such as Mad Max: Fury Road and the Divergent series, but ahead of new film Dope she’s taking on Hollywood’s stereotypes and making a name for herself

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/aug/20/zoe-kravitz-why-do-stories-happen-to-white-people-and-everyone-else-is-a-punchline


This is a very interesting article about how Hunger Games fans ignored the descriptions of race in the books, while being racist towards the characters in the movies.  Although, I am inclined to believe that a certain section of the Hunger Games fandom never  read the books, saw some racism on display, and decided they wanted to jump on that lovely bandwagon. I have found there’s a subset of White people that will take any and every opportunity to bash a black person, whether they know anything about the situation, or not.

Warning: There’s some seriously nasty shit on display in this article. If you don’t feel like dealing with this level of White nonsense today, or just don’t want to get your blood pressure up, my suggestion is to skip it. Come back to it after you’ve maybe had some weed, or a good strong drink. (I recommend some Henny.)

Racist Hunger Games Fans Are Very Disappointed


These articles area set. They’re  discussions of how social justice crusades on social media has changed the way critics do their jobs. There are certain words that have just become part of mainstream dialogue about movies, and I think we owe that to the critics and fans on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook.

The American media has no idea how to talk about race on-screen

But they’re (slowly) learning, thanks to social media campaigns that are forcing difficult conversations

http://www.salon.com/2013/12/05/the_american_media_has_no_idea_how_to_talk_about_race_on_screen/

Hot takes and “problematic faves”: the rise of socially conscious criticism

Modern criticism’s affinity for discussing social issues has changed pop culture, for creators and audiences alike.

https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/4/20/15179232/socially-conscious-criticism

For example, the term whitewashing has entered everyday language. Ten years ago, no one was saying this, or critiquing movies with this word. Hell, three years ago the mainstream media wasn’t even socially conscious enough to  be able to spot it, when it happened. But thanks to “woke” fans of Pop Culture, putting it out there, along with other terms like racebending,  appropriation, and erasure, it’s almost impossible for a movie starring white actors (in lieu of actors of color) to not mention any of these terms. 

I do have to thank the Internet for this. If it wasn’t for people like us, arguing vociferously in the comment sections,  and writing our own reviews, meta, and articles about the shows we love and hate, the mainstream media wouldn’t  be aware of these things as problems.

Whitewashing Hollywood movies isn’t just offensive—it’s also bad business

Apparently, ScarJo and Tilda Swinton  have not had enough of getting their edges snatched, all  across social media, by Asian- Americans. They are now starring in a movie together, titled Isle of Dogs, and people are not pleased.

@tsengputterman @ubeempress We get not ONE actress who’s proven her skills at playing Asians, but TWO! Ain’t we lucky! I feel so fucking blessed.

@FilmFatale_NYC New Wes Anderson film set in Japan starring ScarJo and Tilda Swinton. We’re getting trolled.

They really placed Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton in Isle of Dogs to reaffirm their Asian ethnicity? Hollywood killin Asians… STILL!


And finally, more articles about the movie Get Out, which blew up the movie theaters two months ago. February is turning out to be the ” Absolute!Shit” month for African Americans.  Beyonce’s Lemonade dropped in February of last year, and this year we got the unexpected pleasure of Get Out. Next year, it’s the much anticipated arrival of Black Panther, due in (when else?) February.
In the meantime Get out has been one of the most written about movies in the past year. This includes a comparison between Get Out and The Handmaids Tale.  (Later I’ll do a post on the racial implications behind the news show, and the book.)



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These two misplaced fellows below are about Whitewashing. (Bear with me here, it’s morning, and I’m on a tablet!)


And this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that reprehensible Heineken ad, that gave me goosebumps just thinking about it. It’s as cringe-worthy as the Pepsi ad that aired earlier this month. Once again, you’ve got a corporation trying to get those Millennial dollars, and getting shit wrong. And here’s why its wrong, as DiDi Delgado perfectly articulates:

The Heineken Ad Is Worse Than The Pepsi Ad, You’re Just Too Stupid To Know It

(On Medium. com. You have to sign in to Medium to view the article. Follow DiDi, if you liked this particular article, and want to read all her stuff.)

View story at Medium.com

ETA: The Links for the Get Out articles have been added. I’ll have a part two of this post later this week, after my review of American Gods.

I’m Watching TV (Well, Duh!)

Well yeah, it’s one of my skillz, so y’all betta re-con-ize!

Image result for smug black woman gif
That’s Right!!!

 

Actually, there’s no need to “reconize”,  as I haven’t had as much time to practice this particular set of skills, because…life! I’m just one of me Mum’s primary caregivers, so between her many dialysis adjacent appointments, taking her shopping,  and a full time job, I’m usually catching up on my sleep. I’ve begun a new tradition now, of writing these things when I can, and then queuing them for later, which kind of leaves spontaneous TV  reviews by the wayside. I don’t get to actually watch the shows in a timely manner, and dammit, these networks keep making fascinating new shit, that I don’t have time to look at.

Image result for little girl angry face gif
UGH!

 

Well, here’s what I have been looking at, so far. Some of these don’t get a full review because nothing greatly, bigly, hyuuuugely, is happening on them, and some I’ve yet to watch. Some I’ve made plans to watch later, if I remember that I told you that.

Doctor Who Season Ten

Image result for dr who season ten gif

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big Whovian, as Dr. Who fans are called.  I know enough to find my way around a few favorite episodes and have some favorite Doctors. For example, I love the Weeping Angels, and will watch any episode they’re in, but I think the Daleks are kinda ridiculous, and I usually won’t watch those episodes. I can’t stand Matt Smith, not because he’s not a good Doctor but because the man has a head shaped like a lightbulb, and that shit is distracting. I love David Tennant, (who always looks like he just sniffed a lemon),  and Peter Capaldi, (who kinda looks like that uncle, who has had enough of your shit), and of course, Martha is my favorite companion. (Not that the other companions are less worthy. I like Clara  too.)

I’m also really liking Bill Potts as Peter Capaldi’s new companion, and it’s not just because she’s Black, and gay, (although that is a factor). Its because she’s really good with Capaldi. She sets him off well, and Pearl Mackie is, quite simply, adorkably cute. She also has real acting abilities, and that’s always to the good. I like that the show doesn’t tease us with the idea of her being gay. Its made very clear that she is, and there’s no guessing about it.

This episode’s plot centered around Bill falling in love with a young lady, named Heather, who promises never to leave her. The girl is subsequently consumed by an alien puddle of water, and starts to pursue Bill, because it has absorbed Heather’s feelings for her. Capaldi’s doctor gets involved when Bill goes to him for help, after she realizes he knows weird things. I really loved this episode, and Pearl acquitted herself very well. It was a  beautiful and heartbreaking story, as well. The scene where Bill discovers the Tardis is wonderfully shot, evoking all of the wonder you would expect to feel, if you were in that situation. It was just a really well-done episode, even bringing tears to my eyes at the end.

I also have to point out that Capaldi is one of the more sympathetic doctors. I like his acting style, and the gravity he brings to his position. He also manages to capture a great deal of the sadness that comes with being an immortal being.

I’m all set to continue watching the rest of the season.

Class

Image result for class show

I don’t actually know a whole lot about this show. I know it’s an offshoot of season nine’s Dr. Who, and is set at the school where the Doctor’s former companion, Rose or Clara (I’m not sure on that one), used to teach. From the trailers and snippets, it looks pretty diverse, with plenty of PoC, and various sexualities represented. I haven’t had a chance to determine how good the acting is, but I will be recording the episodes in the hopes of actually looking at the episodes, at some point in the future, and I’ll let you know what I think. It looks interesting, although since it involves a lot of teenagers, I’m not greatly enthusiastic.

 

The Vet Life

Image result for vet life
I do like Animal Planet, but I wasn’t happy about the introduction of various reality shows to the lineup, and I’d stopped watching that channel for a while. There’s only so many shows a person can watch about different types of veterinarians.

Well leave it to the Animal Planet to actually make a show about Black veterinarians, and actually  get me to look at it. I really like this show, not because of the plots or drama, but because representation in all areas, matters. It’s not enough to show Black people being heroes in movies, playing sports, or singing. We need to be shown doing just regular shit, like doctoring, teaching, and lawyering. So I’m all for these kinds of shows that just have us being regular, silly, happy, grumpy, or whatever. Not all of us live our lives around protesting, BLM, or activism. We do all the same shit all people do, everyday, and its time television reflected that too. Yeah, we need heroes, but things like ghostbusting, healing sick animals, and cookouts also help cement the idea that PoC are just regular folks, with jobs we love, kids getting on our nerves, parents gloating about that, and plenty of bills.

All that said, I actually like the show. The show is set in Texas, and the guys Diarra, Aubrey ,and Michael, are laid back and funny. It’s really about all I can mentally handle at the end of a long day, really. There’s not too much drama, we get to meet the vet’s families, who are really cute, and supportive, and I get to watch various  animals visit the vet.

 

Captain Fantastic

Image result for captain fantastic gif

Since I have a subscription to Amazon Prime, I got to watch this movie for free. I was intrigued because Viggo Mortensen is in this, and I thought the premise sounded interesting. After his wife commits suicide, a man and his brood of five or six kids, have a clash with the parents she left behind, to go live a survivalist lifestyle with him, in the California woods.

It was interesting. Not great, or compelling. I did watch all of it because I found their lifestyle fascinating, and the movie had its funny moments. The kids turned in some great performances and it has a semi-happy ending.

What impacted me was how he raised his kids, and how that clashed with the lifestyles of regular folks, really pointing out how modern kids are kind of coddled, and not very self sufficient. The kids know how to hunt, fish, make their own clothes, everything really. Not only that, but I was supportive of the idea of him being informatively blunt with his kids. This is a man who simply doesn’t believe in lying to his kids, or pulling his punches, regarding the truth.

He’s also turned them into political radicals who are critical thinkers about politics, even at the age of six, which I thought was pretty impressive. And they don’t just parrot what he wants them to think. They have grown up, reading , debating and arguing their ideas with him, so they know what they’re talking about when they voice an opinion, which is a refreshing change from most people, who know nothing at all about a subject,  thinking that the way they FEEL about it is sufficient. I guess you can tell I’m a fan of of the critical thought process.

When their mother dies , he flat out tells them she committed suicide, without sugar coating it. He’s not mean or angry about it. Its just information, and he lets them react however they want to react, without chastising them. For example, his youngest son gets angry, and approaches him threateningly with a knife. He doesn’t react to this. He just lets the boy work it out for himself. He’s right  there if he needs him.

The oldest son is college aged and decides that he needs to know more about how people relate to each other, after he meets a young woman who catches his fancy. He has no experience of socializing, dating, or pop culture, which becomes apparent when she tries to get him to talk about things he likes, for which he has no answers. Later, caught up in his feelings for her, he proposes marriage to her, in front of her mother, and is puzzled when the two of them think its hilarious.

But most of the movie is taken up with the relationship with the dead mom’s parents, who feel that he isn’t a good parent, and fight with him over how their daughter should be interred. She didn’t want a church service ,and requested to be cremated. Her parents get their way, but later, he and the kids dig up their mother’s body, cremate it ,and scatter her ashes over the nearest body of water, like she asked.

During this adventuring, one of his daughters breaks her arm while playing lookout on a rooftop, and he realizes that the grandparents are right,  he is leading them in a dangerous lifestyle. He tries to leave them with their grandparents but the kids stowaway on their family bus with him. I have to confess, although I agreed with how he raised his kids, I could see both sides of the issue. The viewer is pretty much left to make up their own mind on who is right, and which side you choose, says more about your values, than what the movie is saying.

The movie is pretty funny at times though. The above gif is when the entire family, who have been barred from the funeral of their mother unless they behave themselves, crash the funeral anyway, dressed in all their 1970s finery, and causing a scene. There’s also a gif of the entire cast raising a fist at the SAG Awards, and chanting “Down with The Man!”, which is hilarious.

I liked the movie. Its not a great film, so I don’t get all the hype about it. For me, it was a well acted, middle-of-the-road, comedy- drama. I’d recommend it for some quiet Saturday evening viewing, and a few chuckles.

The Racism in Fandom (Do I Really Need to Number This One?) Chronicles

This is PoC at this point.

Crowded Gif

Fantasy Writer N.K. Jemisin Explains the Rise of Racism in Fandom

I’m going to start this off with a quote from Chip Delany, writing in the essay “Racism and Science Fiction” which was published in NYRSF in 1998. It’s online, you can look it up.

“Since I began to publish in 1962, I have often been asked, by people of all colors, what my experience of racial prejudice in the science fiction field has been. Has it been nonexistent? By no means: It was definitely there. A child of the political protests of the ’50s and ’60s, I’ve frequently said to people who asked that question: As long as there are only one, two, or a handful of us, however, I presume in a field such as science fiction, where many of its writers come out of the liberal-Jewish tradition, prejudice will most likely remain a slight force—until, say, black writers start to number thirteen, fifteen, twenty percent of the total. At that point, where the competition might be perceived as having some economic heft, chances are we will have as much racism and prejudice here as in any other field.

We are still a long way away from such statistics.

But we are certainly moving closer.”

 

N.K.Jemisen, Leslie Jones, John Boyega, Candice Patton

Danai Gurira, Nicole Beharie, Lucy Liu

http://observationdeck.kinja.com/pop-discourse-the-state-of-black-female-characters-in-1725969028/1725979051

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*We’re going to be hearing a lot about this topic, as next month is Asian American ,and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The Model Minority Myth has often been used as a way to silence Black Americans from speaking out on their own oppression, as it was invented as a way for White racists to escape culpability for their behavior, and ignore systemic racism, by “pretending” to elevate another racial group to favored status. I say “pretending” because White people don’t actually care about Asian Americans either. The MMM has been used as an excuse to ignore social issues within Asian American communities.

The real fallout from the Model Minority Myth for Asian Americans:

Zack isn’t a new breed of Asian-American. It’s just that Zack and the millions of others like him are rarely seen in Hollywood movies. It was 1987 when TIME ran its cover story, “Those Asian American Whiz Kids,” which chronicled the academic prowess and affluence of American-born children of Asian immigrants. It was a flashpoint for Asian-Americans at the time, who became aware of their image as the “model minority” (a term which first appeared in the New York Times in 1966). A follow-up in 2014 revealed things hadn’t changed: “The belief in a blanket Asian-American culture is so thick that it has resulted in confusion when Asian-Americans deviate from the model minority myth,” wrote journalist Jack Linshi. “[T]hose who display that diversity are often perceived as exceptions.”

This misperception that Asian-Americans are naturally gifted and succeed more has been devastating for the psyche; the Counseling and Mental Health Center of the University of Texas at Austin purports Asian-American students are “more likely to seek medical leave, more likely to go on academic probation, and are less likely to graduate in four years.” The university has statistics to illustrate the crippling pressure: 33 percent of Asian-American students drop out of high school. Asian-American students were likely to report stress, loss of sleep, and “feelings of hopelessness” but “were less likely to seek counseling.”

And not all of them have the resources to seek help: 11.8 percent of Asian-Americans live below the poverty line. The model minority monolith ignores Asian-Americans from less-prosperous regions. A national report in 2015 revealed that those of Cambodian, Laotian, and Hmong heritage “earned bachelor’s degrees at a lower rate than the national average.” In 2013, The Myth of the Model Minority author Rosalind Chou told NPR “there are consequences to living in a country with a racial hierarchy,” to which Sharon H. Chang argued in ThinkProgress results in complete and total invisibility, even within one’s own minority group.

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*This one was a topic that I’d both noticed and didn’t notice. I’m one of those women who are somewhere in the medium brown category, so the only time I ever noticed colorism, was when I noticed how I was treated when I was around girls with lighter skin. I kind of knew, but didn’t,  that girls who were darker than me got treated shabbily, but it didn’t really register until I saw the movie Dark Girls a few years ago. I couldn’t imagine how horribly the women in that movie had been treated, and I’m sorry to say I’d remained largely oblivious to it. I’m taking steps to correct my woefully ignorant stance on this issue:

The “Angry Dark Skin Friend”

There’s a common pattern in many forms of black media where there are 2 black female characters who are friends or sisters, one being lighter in skintone, while the other is darker. Even though darkskin and lightskin women form friendships all the time, the way they’re commonly depicted in Black Media is what stands out and perpetuates certain stereotypes:

1. in the film/show/etc, the main character/focus of the 2 is typical the lighter skin woman

2. this makes the darker skin woman the “sidekick”

3. the lighter skin woman is portrayed as prettier, nicer, “classier”, more reserved, and/or overall more likeable and desirable

4. the darker skin woman is portrayed as shady, mean, loud, desperate, abrasive, aggressive, and/or overall less attractive (many would say “ghetto”)

These photos show just a few examples that came to mind…

Coming to America (1988) – The darker skin sister was more desperate for a man, chasing after Prince Akeem, Simi, and even her sister’s ex-fiancé. In the frame of society’s norms, this would be seen as “fast”, “tacky” or lacking in morals, which would therefore, make her less fitting to be a wife.

House Party (1990) – The darker skin friend (AJ Johnson) was the louder, more outgoing friend who was ready to date both Kid & Play, whereas Tisha Campbell’s character was more timid, and ended up being Kid’s “better suited” love interest.

Martin (1992-1997) – Once again, Tisha Campbell is playing the main female character, Gina Waters, and love interest to the main character, Martin Payne. While Gina is depicted as a kinder, classier, professional, “wifey” type, her best friend/assistant Pamela James, played by Tichina Arnold, is depicted as a loud, angry, man-less, berating black woman with “buckshots” and “beedeebees” in her “horse” hair, who was constantly butting heads with Martin.

Proud Family (2001-2005) – Penny, the lighter skin girl, was the main character with Dijonay, the darker skin girl, as the friend/sidekick. Dijonay had a less “traditional” name, as did her many siblings, was portrayed as louder, having more attitude, and was constantly chasing after Sticky, a boy who not only didn’t want her, but preferred the lighter skin friend, Penny.

Rick Ross’ Music Video for “Aston Martin Music” (2010) – In the early portion of the video, we see a young Ricky out on the block with other neighborhood kids, dreaming about owning a luxury car one day. Among the kids there’s 2 young girls, one darker skin and the other lighter skin. While the darker skin girl is quick to berate him and tear down his dreams of ever being that successful, raising her voice and waving her finger in his face, the lighter skin girl is quick to reassure him and support his dream. Once again, this display reaffirms the stereotype of darker skin women being mean, bitter, and angry, while lighter skin women are kinder, sweeter, and happier.

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*This person is reminding us all that at the intersection of race and sexual expression, there is a helluva lot of anti-Black racism, in the fandoms. As a straight, cis-gender, woman of color, who is supportive of these issues, I really do have to stay on top of of what these communities are saying if I want to be a good ally.  One of the ways I do that is by constantly reading, keeping informed on the subject, through the writings and speeches of those who are are actually experiencing it.

sapphicwocsource:

I’m really tired of white LGBT people sanctimoniously preaching to LGBT people of color what constitutes “good” vs “bad” LGBT representation. You expect us to put up with heavily white-dominated, often toxic and racist representation that harms us, in the name of progressiveness, but at the same time you turn around and make fun of our sources of representation and tell us that they aren’t “good” enough or don’t hold up to your racist, exclusive standards.

You’ll tell us to endure racist writing and racist white characters but then mock LGBT characters of color using all sorts of absurd reasons – “there wasn’t enough time for them!” or “they just aren’t realistic!” or “I’m going to rant about how a children’s cartoon is reinforcing bourgeois, imperialist conceptualizations of class”. You never give LGBT people of color a chance to celebrate the few sources of representation they have. You rant endlessly about white LGBT characters being tokenized or killed off, but when the same things happen tenfold to LGBT characters of color, who are also brutalized, fetishized, and sexualized by both their creators and their fandoms, you use all sorts of justifications to whisk away any criticisms LGBT fans of color have.

Stop telling us what to prioritize and what not to like. Stop making us feel bad for finding representation in sources that you might decry as not “good” or “intellectual” or “radical” enough for you. Stop condescendingly informing us that the shows we love are bad but that the shows you love are good using x circular logic.

You’ll celebrate 0.2 seconds of a same-gender couple’s appearance in a children’s movie (like Finding Dory) but if a show begins to flesh out a storyline for LGBT characters of color (as in The Get Down), you’ll say “lol Dizzee only kissed another boy for a couple seconds so it’s terrible representation and you’re an idiot for liking it”. You’ll lament Commander Lexa’s death but justify Poussey Washington’s death. You’ll fawn over Clarke Griffin but claim that Asami Sato is a “bourgeois light-skinned imperialist”. You’ll drool over Connor Walsh but call Magnus Bane “predatory”. You’ll say “lol Barb from Stranger Things is clearly a lesbian because she died” but remain silent when lesbians of color are brutalized or killed off. You’ll claim needing LGBT representation and use that as a reason not to watch shows with people of color in them but when The Get Down and Queen Sugar both have LGBT representation, you won’t say anything about them or give them the time of day. You’ll glorify Carol, which had sex scenes, but claim that The Handmaiden, which also had sex scenes, involved “the male gaze”. You’ll get angry at cishets for expecting us to put up with heternormative media but tell LGBT people of color to shut up when they criticize how white and racist LGBT shows are and how they alienate LGBT people of color.

And I am completely exhausted by this. It is not “divisive” or “whiny” of me to bring this up because guess what? White LGBT people use the exact same arguments against cishets when they talk about how “LGBT representation is unrealistic and blah blah blah”. Yet you turn around and pull the same line of rhetoric when LGBT people of color try and express themselves. You’ll either use our media (all the “foreign” LGBT movies that you watch and consume, all the iconic LGBT characters of color who broke boundaries and stereotypes, all the LGBT celebrities of color who are outspoken and compassionate, etc) without giving credit where credit is due, or you’ll tokenize our media, stamp it as not good enough, and glorify your often racist, exclusive, and frankly bad media and demand that we put up with it. It is immensely hypocritical, not to mention self-righteous.

And as a corollary, to the above, is a reminder that some shows and movies are engaging in little more than performative diversity. They don’t actually care about representation, but they do want the brownie points that come with doing the absolute bare minimum required to support inclusion. (We’re looking at you MCU, Disney, and DCEU!)

andhumanslovedstories:

There’s such a weird fixation in media about “firsts”. Beauty and the Beast boasting disney’s “first gay scene” is the one I’m thinking about in particular, and Power Rangers with the “first gay superhero”, and in both cases it’s a blink and you’ll miss it thing, something that maintains plausible deniability of queerness within the film itself, but establishing explicit queerness in everything outside the film. We know Lefou is gay because the interview told us he was in disney’s first gay scene.

And most of these discussions of firsts devolve into which first is first. Bill gets announced as the first gay companion on doctor who, and then follows the argument of whether Jack counts as companion, whether he was the first pansexual companion while Bill is the first gay companion, whether Amy or Clara was ever canonically bisexual and should that be a factoring in calculating firsts as well. (I remember a similar argument going on when Martha was announced as the first black companion, and people were like “but Mickey?” And there’s definitely commentary waiting about contentious Firsts and characters of color, but my white ass has nothing incisive to offer on that front except the hope we are kinder and better towards Bill than we were towards Martha.) And meanwhile, here is Bill, a black gay female companion, and while that fact has definitely not gotten lost, it is still very very cool and good that she is the companion even if she is not the Absolute First.

The language of Firsts is everywhere when you start looking for it, the idea that this show/movie/video game is doing something New Never Before Done Whoa Look At The Unprecedented Gay. And when this trend worries me, it’s because:

1) it gives off a strong whiff of performative representation, where the representation isn’t as important as people knowing you’re doing it

1a) the corollary being that the emphasis on First First First makes me worried that creators are not interested in Second Third Fourth. That having had the First *spins wheel, throws dart* Lesbian Asian Marvel character (a guest star in three episodes of the Defenders, maybe fifteen minutes, every gif set celebrating her has the same three quotes because that’s all there is), they are now exempted from every having to write a Second Lesbian Asian Marvel character. Because they already did that. Didn’t you see the article in Entertainment Weekly? It was a very big deal.

2) the trend of press on the First Gay Thing tends to vastly outscale the actually gayness, which traps us in an endless loop of hype and disappointment (versus Dumbledoring where the gayness is revealed retroactively for a previously ambiguous character or relationship, and it’s a weird combination of vindication because you thought they might be gay, surprise because you didn’t expect them to be gay, and disappointment because why didn’t the work just say they were gay)

And this, even more than the rest of this post, is a personal grievance but 3) queer fandom has spent decades finding representation in subtext, in coding, in wishful thinking and disciplined literary analysis of the text. This whole First thing seems come with a subtext that every other character who had significant ambiguous relationships, was flamboyant or butch, was in anyway queercoded? Not queer. This here is the first gay thing, and we’re very brave for being the first to have done it. Gay characters must formally come out to count.

Putting aside explicitly queer characters (which exist! Which have a history that creators and fans are welcome to build upon instead of thinking they have to invent gay representation every time they launch a franchise), queer history and queer art has always entailed writing and reading in between the lines. Which requires there be lines. If the new trend is unwritten in text, out and proud in press, what does that offer? I’m happy that Explicitly Confirmed Queer is a thing that’s happening, I very much am, but if a gay child who has never read a think-piece cannot recognize themself in your Brave Unprecedented Gay Character because they didn’t read your interview with the av club, then what use is that character? What was the point? What have you actually contributed to us?

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And finally, a clear illustration of the difference between racebending and whitewashing, since some o’y’all seem confused on the issues. (Also, I thought this article was really cute! Tag me! I’m the raisin in the bottom left corner.)

This is a jar full of major characters

Actually it is a jar full of chocolate covered raisins on top of a dirty TV tray. But pretend the raisins are interesting and well rounded fictional characters with significant roles in their stories.

We’re sharing these raisins at a party for Western Storytelling, so we get out two bowls.

Then we start filling the bowls. And at first we only fill the one on the left.

This doesn’t last forever though. Eventually we do start putting raisins in the bowl on the right. But for every raisin we put in the bowl on the right, we just keep adding to the bowl on the left.

And the thing about these bowls is, they don’t ever reset. We don’t get to empty them and start over. While we might lose some raisins to lost records or the stories becoming unpopular, but we never get to just restart. So even when we start putting raisins in the bowl on the right, we’re still way behind from the bowl on the left.

And time goes on and the bowl on the left gets raisins much faster than the bowl on the right.

Until these are the bowls.

Now you get to move and distribute more raisins. You can add raisins or take away raisins entirely, or you can move them from one bowl to the other.

This is the bowl on the left. I might have changed the number of raisins from one picture to the next. Can you tell me, did I add or remove raisins? How many? Did I leave the number the same?

You can’t tell for certain, can you? Adding or removing a raisin over here doesn’t seem to make much of a change to this bowl.

This is the bowl on the right. I might have changed the number of raisins from one picture to the next. Can you tell me, did I add or remove raisins? How many? Did I leave the number the same?

When there are so few raisins to start, any change made is really easy to spot, and makes a really significant difference.

This is why it is bad, even despicable, to take a character who was originally a character of color and make them white. But why it can be positive to take a character who was originally white and make them a character of color.

The white characters bowl is already so full that any change in number is almost meaningless (and is bound to be undone in mere minutes anyway, with the amount of new story creation going on), while the characters of color bowl changes hugely with each addition or subtraction, and any subtraction is a major loss.

This is also something to take in consideration when creating new characters. When you create a white character you have already, by the context of the larger culture, created a character with at least one feature that is not going to make a difference to the narratives at large. But every time you create a new character of color, you are changing something in our world.

I mean, imagine your party guests arrive

Oh my god they are adorable!

And they see their bowls

But before you hand them out you look right into the little black girls’s eyes and take two of her seven raisins and put them in the little white girl’s bowl.

I think she’d be totally justified in crying or leaving and yelling at you. Because how could you do that to a little girl? You were already giving the white girl so much more, and her so little, why would you do that? How could you justify yourself?

But on the other hand if you took two raisins from the white girl’s bowl and moved them over to the black girl’s bowl and the white girl looked at her bowl still full to the brim and decided your moving those raisins was unfair and she stomped and cried and yelled, well then she is a spoiled and entitled brat. 

And if you are adding new raisins, it seems more important to add them to the bowl on the right. I mean, even if we added the both bowls at the same speed from now on (and we don’t) it would still take a long time before the numbers got big enough to make the difference we’ve already established insignificant.

And that’s the difference between whitewashing POC characters and making previously white characters POC. And that’s why every time a character’s race is ambiguous and we make them white, we’ve lost an opportunity.

*goes off to eat her chocolate covered raisins, which are no longer metaphors just snacks*

Source: timemachineyeah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Follows (2014): More Thoughts

*So here I am, with more thoughts about this movie, because I just love thinking about it, and analyzing it. Its also a good way to exercise my brain and practice writing. Hopefully this post isn’t too much of a wankfest, and when you watch the movie, maybe some of this will occur to you, too.

For my earlier review of the movie, and the meanings behind the monster, see:

https://wordpress.com/posts/my/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com?s=it+follows

I’ve wanted, for some time now, to follow that first review with several more observations of the plot and characters. A lot of the meaning gleaned from the movie is through implication, but by looking at the movie’s details, listening carefully to what the characters say, and what they, and the monster, does, you can get a clearer idea of the movie’s meaning.

This movie is not just about sexuality and STDs. That’s just a surface-level description, and the one most easily accessed by the viewer. Those  two subjects are merely the vehicles through which the meaning of the story is being imparted. The movie is actually about the existential fear of growing up, growing old, and death.

Jay:

Jay is a pretty blond girl right on the cusp of womanhood. She is presumably attending some type of community college in her city, and is entering the part of her life where she’s considering leaving home, getting married, and having kids. These are major issues for her, and I think the monster reflects these anxieties about her present and future.

In Rockwell’s famous painting, we see a young girl contemplating her oncoming womanhood. She has thrown her doll to the side (ie. put away childish things) and is considering her  future, comparing herself to the woman in the magazine.

Image result for young girl in mirror/rockwell

Mary’s pose seems “apprehensive, as if she understands that womanhood is upon her and fears that she is not quite ready,” writes art expert Karal Ann Marling in her 1997 book, Norman Rockwell.

http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2013/03/29/art-entertainment/norman-rockwell-girl-at-the-mirror.html

I feel that the above is an accurate statement of Jay’s mindset. Several times we see Jay looking at herself in mirrors. In the first instance, she is just using it to put on her makeup. She is playing at being an adult, copying behavior she’s seen her mother engage in many times. But Jay is very young and not as sophisticated. The reason I say playing at being a adult is becasue of Jay’s visible bra straps. A more sophisticated, and experienced woman would know to wear a bra with straps that match with her dress. We can tell from this, that Jay is still new at this whole, dating thing, and is pretending at being an older, more experienced woman.

 

The second time we see her, in the mirror, is after Hugh has passed the monster to her. Everyone believes she has been raped, although  the sex was consensual. Nevertheless, this scene evokes the type of contemplation scene we often see in movies, where a woman has undergone some radical, physical experience (such as a sexual assault) and is staring, wonderingly, at herself in a mirror.

We’re not sure exactly what Jay is thinking here, as she carefully inspects her privates, but the idea being imparted,  is that she’s genuinely a woman  now, whereas before, she was only playing at being one. In the parlance of gaming, she has had sex with an adult male, of her own free will, and so now, has leveled up.  She is no longer a child. This has nothing to do with sex, exactly, because Jay was not a virgin when she slept with Hugh, but what happened to her does represent some type of  major change in her life that she is apprehensive about. When seen in the context of the rest of the movie,  for the first time, she may be thinking of her impending death, in some nebulous future.

It Follows Mirror

 

Time:

The time period for the events in the movie have been deliberately obscured, according to the director. There is no specific year, that it occurs, as evidenced by people’s clothing, the TV shows they watch, and cars they drive. People are dressed  modern, but all of the TV  shows anyone watches are more than twenty years old. All of the movies are in black and white. The cars are all older models, except for Paul’s car which looks slightly more modern at the end of the movie. Yara’s shell reader throws a monkey wrench into everything by being futuristic. That’s an object, that’s never been invented in this world.

Its also impossible to tell what time of year it is. The weather changes from sunny, to dark and cloudy, from day to day. Its cold enough for people to wear heavy jackets and boots in the evening, but warm  enough at midday for Kelly to drink cold sodas,  and  for Jay to swim in the backyard pool. One night, its warm enough for Jay to fall asleep on top of her car wearing nothing but a t-shirt and shorts, but earlier on her date with Hugh, she wore boots and a jacket. Detroit exists above the snowline, so its not winter, but neither is it clearly Spring, or clearly Fall.

Image result for it follows/shell reader

Another thing that adds to the obscurity of the time period is that we’re not sure how long it takes for any of these events to occur. We know that the events at the end of the movie occur very close to one another, because Jay is still wearing a cast on her arm, from when she crashed Greg’s car, but for the events that happen before that, there could’ve been a few days, weeks, or even months between those. For example, we don’t know  the time period from when Jay has sex with Hugh, to the time when she retreats to Greg’s lake house, or from the beginning of the movie, to its end.

Water:

Water is Jay’s safe space. This is a message reinforced throughout the movie which begins with an image of Jay floating in her backyard pool, just before her date with Hugh, after which her life is irrevocably changed.  Just before, or just after, each encounter with It, Jay retreats, or runs to water, and there are images of her in water throughout the movie. Water represents safety and childhood. Or possibly even the womb. Jay’s mirror is surrounded by photos of her in her pool, for example, and after she witnesses Greg’s death, she drives to the woods, next to another body of water.

Just after one of her first encounters with It, Jay runs to her room, and although there’s no water there, one of the first things she says to her sister, during her panicked reaction, is that she wants some water. When the monster invades her bedroom, Jay runs away, but only as far as the neighborhood playground, which represents, yet another, retreat to childhood.

Jay spends most of the movie, not trying to pass the monster on to someone else, but running from it. And in doing that, one could argue that she is regressing to her childhood, as she doesn’t want to think about what it means to be a grownup, even though she seemed happy enough to pretend at it earlier, and when she’s in the water she doesn’t have to.  One could also think of her backyard pool as a a kind of womb, from which she feels she never has to emerge. Later in the movie, there’s a shot of the pool, broken, with all the water emptied out, a not so subtle metaphor about birth.  After that, Jay can no longer retreat to her special womb, because its  been destroyed.

Image result for it follows jay

At the end of the movie we find that It does not like water, and will not enter any water voluntarily, reinforcing the idea that Jay is safe from death, as long as she remains in it, as long as she remains a child.

Image result for it follows jay

 

The Monster – Again

At this point we need to discuss the monster again, and why it appears to Jay in the forms she sees. Its interesting to note that It pays no attention to any of the other people in Jay’s surroundings. When she’s sitting on the beach, as It approaches, It doesn’t register the presences of her friends. I suspect that It can’t see anyone but its victims. This reinforces the idea that death is a specific event, for each individual, who has to grapple with their mortality alone. When a person walks through that door to the other side, they have to walk through it alone. So it’s fitting that Jay is the only person who can see It.

Throughout the movie, her friend Yara’s only quotes from The Idiot, are about the inevitability of death.

“The most terrible part of the whole punishment is, not the bodily pain at all—but the certain knowledge that in an hour—then in ten minutes, then in half a minute, then now—this very instant—your soul must quit your body and that you will no longer be a man—and that this is certain, certain!”        -One of Yara’s quotes that she reads from Dostoevsky’s The Idiot.

Image result for it follows/on the beach

When Paul attacks It with a chair, it pauses in its attack on Jay long enough to knock Paul aside, but otherwise, acknowledges no one but Jay, and the only time we see It register the presence of someone who is not its immediate victim, is when its pursuing Jay’s neighbor Greg, to whom she passed it, at the hospital.  Jay has followed It into Greg’s  house, and the creature, in the form of Greg’s mother, is determinedly knocking on his bedroom door, when it pauses long enough to notice Jay’s presence. This moment is especially chilling because, until then, It has not noticed anyone else in the movie. It notices Jay because she is the only other person who can see it, and she’s next, when it finishes its business with Greg.

The first time it appears to Jay is in the forms of strangers, who represent concepts of adulthood, that Jay has anxieties about. Later, after its been pursuing her for some time, these forms become much more specific. The first form it appears in, that she knows, is her friend Yara, then  her sister, Kelly. It appears to her later as Greg, while its stalking him. Its unclear if the creature took Greg’s form only because she can see it, or if that’s just a projection from Jay.

After Greg is dead, It appears in the forms of the dead, her father and grandfather. Its interesting that it doesn’t appear in Greg’s form again, as you would expect Jay to have  some anxiety about Greg’s death, and for the creature to exploit that, but Greg’s death is probably too immediate to register as a subconscious anxiety.

It never appears to her in Paul’s, or her mother’s,  form. Jay has no anxieties about Paul, it seems, and worries very  little about her mother. She feels secure about the two of them, in a way that she doesn’t, about Yara and Kelly, who appear to be closer friends to each other, than they are to her.

 

Mothers:

Image result for it follows/moms

There are three mothers in the movie, and no fathers. We never see Yara’s and Paul’s parents at all.  It appears to us, first as Hugh’s mother, and then later, as Greg’s mom. It’s interesting that it never appears to Jay in the form of her own mother, but it does appear to her as her father, which has led some people to speculate about the sexual component to the creature’s transformations.  As I said, I don’t think the creature’s appearances have anything to do with sex. I think that’s just the vehicle by which it’s passed on.

There are many theories about Jay’s mother. That she is an alcoholic after her husband’s death, or that her alcoholism drove the father away, and that she is neglectful of her kids. I  disagree. I believe her husband is dead, but I don’t think that’s her fault. She does drink, and makes no secret of her drinking. The day after Jay’s assault, she is seen drinking,  with Greg’s mother, in the middle of the day. But I don’t consider her a full-fledged alcoholic. After all, she is still working and paying the bills. According to Kelly she has some job that requires her to be up at 5AM.

Jay’s mother (she has no name) does care about her daughters, and what we see as neglect, is probably just the usual parental obliviousness to what’s going on in their kid’s lives, since the movie is told from their point of view. She is at the hospital after Jay’s car accident, and at the end of the movie, we can see her giving Jay a backrub. Her full face is never shown. I think that’s meant to illustrate how teens often believe their parents to be peripheral to their lives. Or that Jay has assigned a decreased level of importance to her mother. Greg and his mother are shown as being close enough to have conversations about their neighbors, and Hugh’s mother, although she knows nothing of her son’s extracurricular activities, is warm and friendly to Jay, when they meet.

Much has been made of the fact that for Greg and Hugh, It appears in the form of their mothers. I don’t necessarily believe there is any Oedipal component to this. Their father’s aren’t present. Their mothers appear to be the primary influence on their life, so it would make sense that the creature would appear as someone that they have anxieties about. Although, I do understand why people would think the above, because both of their mothers appear to them either entirely naked, or half dressed.

Paul and Yara

Image result for it follows/paul and yara

I said earlier that we never see Paul and Yara’s parents. (Also, I think Paul and Yara are twins.) Most of their time seems to be spent in Jay’s house. I think Paul and Yara represent the past that Jay is leaving behind as she grows up. I think Paul represents childhood, and Yara represents being a child.

For example Jay and Paul are almost always having conversations about the past. The two of them never have a full discussion about the future until Paul comes up with his plan to destroy the creature. When Jay and Paul talk later, Jay makes it clear there are no hard feelings about any of Paul’s past misdeeds, but once again she and Paul reminisce about some past sexual behaviors, like finding some porn magazines, or being each other’s first kiss.

When Yara isn’t quoting death passages from The Idiot, she mostly discusses past events. She talks about how, when she was a child, she wasn’t allowed to go the Fair, without her parents permission. She mentions this while all four of them are out at night, going to the Rec Center they visited as children, and this is meant to delineate the divide between childhood and adulthood. Adults go where they want, when they want, but children always need permission. She and Kelly both take turns mentioning embarrassing events from Paul’s childhood.

The only person Jay ever discusses the future with is her sister, Kelly. One of Kelly’s first statements to her is asking if she’s going on a date later that evening. And when the two of them go out for a walk, Kelly asks Jay if she’s going to sleep with Hugh. Kelly is in a place where she also play acts at adulthood, by smoking, but she’s still mentally in a child’s place because she tries to hide that from her mother.

The Ending

At the end of the movie, all of them believe they have defeated the creature. After Paul shoots it ,it falls into the swimming pool, where Jay believed herself to be safe. Using dream-logic though, there is no body left behind in the pool, only a giant bloom of blood. Some people have theorized that this is meant to represent menstrual blood, as across many cultures, menses is the moment that represents a young girl’s final ascent to  womanhood. Jay’s journey is now complete and her existential wrestle with her mortality is over. She isn’t any safer than she was before, because death could still come for her “in any form”, but she has now made peace with that.

Image result for jay and Paul/it follows gifs

I think this is  illustrated by Jay finally agreeing to have sex with Paul. During their sex scene, its raining heavily outside, but not storming;  keep in mind that water means  safety. Instead of fearing the future, she has decided to find some kind of future with Paul. The last scene, in the movie, is of  the two of them, walking down a sidewalk, hand in hand. Jay is wearing the same dress she wore on her date with Hugh, at the beginning of the movie. She’s no longer pretending at being grownup, now. Jay looks mildly apprehensive about her relationship with her childhood friend, but seems like she ‘s okay to live with her curse, as long as she has Paul by her side. And this is how most people deal with existential dread. They form relationships, they love each other, and hope, by doing so, to keep their “demons” at bay, which Jay may well have done. Far in the background, can be seen a figure, walking slowly, keeping pace with the two of them.

 

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch

Image result for the furthest station cover

 

I just finished Aaronovitch’s latest novella, starring Detective Inspector Peter Grant, and I’m very very satisfied. It’s certainly enough to tide me over until Ben’s next full length Peter Grant book, which I can’t wait to see in hardcover, one day.

I can’t recommend this series enough. I’m thoroughly addicted, but I can’t explain exactly why this series is so compelling to me. Is it the low key use of magic? Is it Peter Grant’s mordant snarkiness? Or the fact that he’s of African descent?  Is it the side characters, like Toby the Ghostfinding dog, or Peter’s magically inclined niece, who talks  to the foxes of London, or just the common, everyday,  police procedural stuff? Probably all of the above.

I especially liked this book which I finished it record time, for me anyway, although I do wish it had a bit more Beverly Brook in it. Beverly is one of the physical incarnations of one of the rivers of London. She and her sisters are some of my favorite recurring characters.  Her sisters are the incarnations of the rivers Fleet, Tyburn, and Lea, while their mother is the female incarnation of the Thames. This just tickles the Hell out of me, btw. All of them look African, which I think is an odd/but not odd thing, considering it’s London. I like Beverly, because she has a snarky sense of humor too, and she’s dating Peter.

How do I describe the mood of these books. Well, it’s very low key as I said. There’s magic in it but it’s so subtle as to appear almost mundane. Also Peter, the narrator, is so used to magic, that he describes the most extraordinary events as if they were commonplace. The books are more like police procedurals, with an overlay of magical events, rather than the deep magic world of the Jim Butcher books, which I also love. The series isn’t much like those, if that’s what you’re imagining. First of all, they’re set in London, and the author fully recognizes the diversity, with a large cast of different races of people, most of whom are cops. So Peters magical activities are fully sanctioned by the authorities, and explained away, with no one actually acknowledging their magical origins. There’s magic in this world, and quite a few people encounter it, and believe in it, but it’s so quietly done, that most regular people don’t recognize, or want to realize, that’s what they’ve just experienced.

Peter Grant comes from a musical family, and some of the books go deep into magical theory, and music, which is interesting. His father is a somewhat famous Jazz musician,who is suffering from some, not quite clear, mental illness. I love that Peter is not some lone, token black guy, as he comes from a fairly large family, on his mom’s side, which he mentions visiting from time to time. But for most of his time, he’s at work for The Folly.

The Folly is run by one Thomas Nightingale, whose age is indeterminate, but he’s old enough to be considered a Master Magician, and did some magic, for the Crown, during WW2. Peter is his new apprentice, after having run into a magical serial killer in the first novel. In the current  novella, Peter is doing most of the heavy lifting, as he and a colleague track down a missing woman, who disappeared on the Metro. Her disappearance has incited some very public ghostly activity, which is momentarily frightening to the passengers, although they don’t often remember the scare long enough to tell him the details. Since ghosts are involved, and the Folly is the Special Crimes Investigation Unit, Peter gets the call.

I love the side characters in this series.  From Walidd, the physician who specializes in autopsying magical deaths, to Molly, who is some type of supernatural creature, working as a domestic at The Folly, to Peter’s arch nemesis, The Faceless Man, and his new apprentice, Leslie May, who used to be Peter’s girlfriend.

It’s also been fun watching Peter’s rather innovative, and unorthodox, approaches to magic, to the headshaking chagrin of Nightingale, and Peter’s growing abilities over the course of seven books. He is also starting to get a reputation, among his fellow officers, for blowing things up. There’s at least one major explosion of something in each book, that Peter is at least partially responsible for, although sometimes Nightngale gets in on the action.

The bottom line is, I love this series. I think it’s one of the best British Urban Fantasy series out there. Heck, I love British Urban Fantasy in general.  There are no love triangles, nothing so mundane as vampires or werewolves, and no lone White heroine, worrying about her supernatural boyfriend, or which shoes to match with her weapons. There’s little melodrama, clever writing, and likable, quirky, and diverse, characters. A lot of the magic is based on British History, much of it unique to London, and it’s wealth of magical locations, and objects.  The plots are somewhat involved, but no more so than your typical police novel. With occasional magic.

It’s not too late to get in on this series, which is fun Summer reading material. Each book builds on the next, but it’s not required that you  read them in order, as they are also standalone books.

The Rivers of London or Midnight Riot is the first book,

followed by:

Moon Over Soho

Whispers Underground

Broken Homes

Foxglove Summer

The Hanging Tree

And now The Furthest Station.

*I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for free. If  you have a platform, and you’d like to review books for Netgalley, it costs nothing to sign up.

The Mis-Evolution of James T. Kirk

In an awesome, long, and rather intense essay, Erin Horáková deconstructs Star Trek to expose Kirk Drift, a phenomenon in which the character in the original stories is shifted in our memory and perception towards a more stereotyped masculinity — and the change says some things about cultural biases. There’s a cartoon version of Kirk…

via Captain Kirk is not Zapp Brannigan! — Pharyngula

Ghost in the Shell Thoughts & LinkSpam

Here’s a roundup of thoughts and feelings  from Asian Americans (and a few others) on Ghost in the Shell, Hollywood, and Whitewashing:

Orientalism and the Ghost in Hollywood’s Shell

The Incomparable Differences between Whitewashing and Racebending

https://thirdtwinmusings.wordpress.com/2017/04/08/stolen-brilliance-whitewashing-and-the-white-mind-as-perfection/

https://screenalicious.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/how-to-end-hollywood-whitewash-in-10-easy-steps/

https://amazingrace350.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/how-get-out-proved-that-minority-actors-are-marketable-hollywood-just-refuses-to-make-it-work/

Exorcising Ghost in the Shell

https://haleyjb.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/entertainment-media-a-white-world/

http://www.gq.com/story/the-whitewashing-playbook

http://www.motherjones.com/media/2017/02/history-whitewashing-asian-american-hollywood

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2017/03/24/filmmakers_and_actors_keep_defending_casting_controversies_but_here_s_why.html

https://theringer.com/ghost-in-the-shell-scarlett-johansson-63bd6503af72

http://www.tor.com/2016/04/20/why-are-we-still-white-washing-characters/

 

 

And also check out  the site:

http://blog.angryasianman.com/

For intelligent discourse on issues pertaining to Asian Americans in Popular media, and a list of similar blogs:.

http://blog.angryasianman.com/2017/04/read-these-blogs_9.html

Asian American Month begins in May.

 

Badly Behaving Airlines

I just thought this would be a nice companion piece to this morning’s post:

It’s not just United — 8 times airlines notoriously violated people of color

  • David Dao is not the first to be dragged off an airplane. He’s also certainly not the first to have been allegedly racially discriminated against by an airline company.
  • In fact, airlines companies have discriminated against people of color so many times, Mic published an article listing 26 everyday things that can get you kicked off a plane — and that’s just if you’re Muslim or look like a Muslim.
  • But viral footage of Dao, a 69-year-old Asian doctor, being forcefully removed by security guards from an overbooked United Airlines flight, sparked a new conversation about racial profiling and discrimination among airline carriers. Mic curated a list of eight other times when these companies discriminated against people of color. Read more. (4/12/2017 11:20 AM)

Not So United Airlines

If you live in the US you’ve probably heard much about what happened on United Airlines earlier this week, when an Asian man was forcibly removed from one of their planes.

I dont normally link to social justice issues here but I felt this was relevant in light of what happened with Ghost in the Shell, and the fact that Asian American History month starts in May. I’m an African American woman and I know a racial incident when I see one. I refuse to be gaslighted on this, and neither will Asian people. China has already responded to  this incident by calling for a boycott of United, and the CEO of United has issued a less than satisfactory apology, and gone so far as to blame the victim.

There are numerous videos of the event and I have to admit I was just a little bit surprised at my reaction to this incident myself. I wasn’t expecting to be as strongly affected by this, as I am by videos of Black Americans being brutalized on film. I saw the photos and I just couldn’t bring myself to watch any of the videos. I wont link to them here.

What I thought I’d do, to alleviate some of my own distress, is signal boost the voices of Asian Americans who are speaking out on this, and provide some  links to think-pieces that are  relevant to this case.

I think, now more than ever before, its time for PoC to set aside our complaints, with one another, and join together to fight against what we see happening in Trump’s America. I hear complaints about anti-Black racism from other PoC, when I think we should keep in mind, that this is America, and absolutely no one is immune to anti-Black racism, not even Black people. Also not every group of marginalized people is going to be in the same place in the racial game as we are, with the same level of experience and awareness.

We need to keep in mind, that no one will be immune to this kind terrorism in a corporate state. We can stand together, or be destroyed separately. (When the dust settles, we’ll all still be here, and  can go back to petty infighting later.)

People have thoughts:

http://verysmartbrothas.com/the-chinese-doctor-dragged-off-a-united-airlines-flight-is-the-blackest-thing-that-ever-happened-this-week/

PR Has Been Grounded (Sorry, “Re-Accommodated”)

The Defenses Of United Airlines’ Behavior Reveal Some Uncomfortable Truths

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/united-video-scandal-law/522552/

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/04/youre-not-mad-at-united-airlines-youre-mad-at-amer.html

 

The trolling of United:

Now other airlines are brutally trolling United Airlines, and it’s hilarious

“A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.”

 

Tumblr had some choice words too:

Vietnamese doctor gets roughed up and hauled out of a plane by cops at United: I’m Vietnamese-American myself and naturally my community’s in an uproar over this. But where was this outrage for the brutality against black people? They’ve been suffering this kind of treatment for years. The general attitude I perceive in my community, especially among the older 1st gen immigrants, is judgment, victim blaming, or indifference. All of a sudden we care because “one of our own” got attacked. I’m sick of the double standards we’re perpetrating. The Asian diaspora population has maintained a content and compliant attitude, so when something like the United incident happens, it jolts us out of our happy little bubble and scares us to the core, and it should. We’re scared because the model minority myth does not exempt or protect us (that’s exactly what it is: a myth, not a fact, and it hurts us more than it helps us). We need to stop assuming that we’re an exception. That is very dangerous thinking. We need to hold ourselves accountable and do better.

Fargo (1996): Speaking of Crime

Fargo is a depiction of what are, very possibly, some of the most incompetent, and inarticulate, criminals to ever appear in a movie. Often called Minnesota Noir, some people also like to refer to the movie as Neo Blanc, because of its overwhelming whiteness, which is not necessarily a reference to it’s cast, but the snowy environment in which it’s set.

But this description, might indeed, refer to its primary characters.  Jerry Lundegaard’s motivations aren’t from  some dark cynicism of the soul, or  sexual misbehavior. The motivation behind his crimes, and what sets the entire plot in motion, is simple human greed. In fact, his crime is so blandly unexciting, it’s barely alluded to in the script. All we know is that it has something to do with money he borrowed on non-existent cars at the dealership where he works. Why he felt the need, to borrow the money in the first place, is never said. Its probably borrowing all the way down.

Jerry Lundegaard is by all senses of the word a “milktoast”. This is a man who has never  committed to a life of criminal activity, and has simply gotten in over his head. He’s  never studied crime beyond watching  television dramas. Having committed no more than the most petty of deceptions, he decides, at some point, to become more ambitious and engage in embezzlement, extortion, and  kidnapping. Which is a mistake, because planning a kidnapping, to steal the ransom money, requires a level of skill that Jerry is entirely lacking. The man isn’t even a  good liar, which one has to admit, is one of the hallmark qualities of a professional shyster.

In one of the earliest scenes, we see Jerry  being shamed for lying about the cost of one of his vehicles.  If he were any good, the lie would never have been caught. He seems to lie and deceive just as a matter of course, even when there’s no need for it. Jerry fits an almost classic narcissistic profile. He thinks far too highly of his own abilities, has grandiose plans for the future, that he can’t live up to, and thinks pretty much only about himself. For example, he has given not a single thought to how his plans will affect his son Scotty, or how terrified his wife might be, at being kidnapped. Given the chance to comfort his son, he gives the boy lame assurances, that his mother will be alright, and not to tell anyone about it.

There’s a feminist saying:  “Lord, grant me the confidence of a mediocre White man.” And Jerry is about as mediocre as a man can get, fitting the very definition of nondescript. He has accomplished so little in life that few people respect him.  His son, and clients, disregard his opinions, his father-in-law expresses nothing but disdain for him, and bullies him, and he works at the dealership that his father-in- law owns. In fact, its implied that since his wife comes from money, nothing in Jerry’s universe might really belong to him, and that everything he owns, is due to his father-in-law’s aid,  or permission.

Jerry isn’t smooth, slick, or even especially bright. He is by any measure of manhood, mostly forgettable, and paradoxically, as played by William H. Macy, unforgettable, with his odd verbal ticks, and air of silent desperation.  What’s troubling is that this wild eyed desperation doesn’t seem like it can be attributable to his immediate situation. This is a man who looks as if he has always been cringing, in anticipation of a blow that never comes, his entire life.

On the surface, his plan seems simple enough. Have his wife kidnapped, ask his father in law for the money, split the take with his associates, and make off with the dough. But Jerry is entirely unreliable. He lies to his partners in crime, he lies to his father in law about everything, he lies to his son, and forces his son to lie to their relatives. He naturally lies to the poilice, but Jerry isn’t even skilled enough to choose competent partners to carry out his task.

People pay much attention, to the accents of the characters, here.  Yes, the accents do sound pretty funny, but the Coen Brothers are also doing something else with  speech in this film, and the accents are distracting.

The  key  theme throughout the movie is the idea that lying and deception, either renders people less articulate, or is a marker of criminal aspirations, and social status, and that honest forthrightness makes one especially gullible.  One of the more overlooked aspects of the dialogue is those who are more honest, or certain of their positions (whether  in society, or ethically) are the ones most able to clearly express themselves, but they also tend to think of everyone else as being as honest as them. They take what others say at face value.

Marge Gunderson, is  the most intelligent person in the movie,  and is  honest and forthright. She is also,as a representative of law and order, the most socio-economically secure, deeply ensconced in the middle class. She also happens to be the most well-spoken, never experiencing an inability to say what she means, and seemingly very sure of herself. On the other hand, this honesty means she can also be easily lied to, as Jerry, who is not innately skilled at lying, manages to  get the drop on her, twice.

Jerry is also capable of successfully lying to his father in law, another righteous, and honest fellow, who speaks from his deep well of financial security.  Jerry isn’t particularly skilled at lying. It’s just  the people he’s lying to, never suspect it, because he appears to be a member of their socio-economic status, and, like Marge, appears to be firmly enmeshed in the status quo.

Note that Jerry is not successful at lying to people on society’s fringes, like Carl,  Gaear and Shep. Although, they don’t call him out on it, they know when he’s doing it.

Marge, unlike Jerry, is actually considerate and charming. She thinks as much of others feelings, as Jerry only pretends to do. After she chides her deputy for getting his police work wrong, she is careful to assuage his embarrassment, by telling him  jokes. When she meets an old friend for lunch, Mike Yamagita,  he makes an attempt to invade her personal space, and she rebuffs him, but also remembers to let him “save face”, by asserting that its easier to talk to him, if he sits across from her, rather than next to her. This is a minor dishonesty, but Mike, a magnificent liar himself, knows she is doing so. He tells her various stories about his own life, which Marge just accepts. After all, he appears to be a member of her law abiding social circle.

Mike Yamagita is inarticulate in a different way then the other unethical people in the movie, probably because he is a member of her social class, and is college educated. He’s trying to impress Marge, and win her sympathy, as he has a crush on her. He is nervous and  painfully  awkward, often talking too fast, or too loud. He’s not a criminal, but he is unreliable, which is slightly further up the spectrum of unethical behavior than Carl, or Jerry.  Mike doesn’t live in the world of crime, like Carl and Jerry. Like Wade, he lives  in a comfortable middle class, but skirts carefully close to its edges, and his manner of speaking illustrates this.

Contrast Marge with Jerry, when he’s lying to his father-in-law, about his wife’s kidnapping. He has to rehearse what he’s going to say, to find the right tone. Later, at the diner, when he’s arguing with Wade, about whether the police should be called, he stutters, pauses, and  searches for what words to use, all while trying to sound as if he knows what he’s doing.  Wade Gustafson has all of the confidence that Jerry  lacks, until  after he bullies  Jerry into delivering  the ransom demand himself. Then he has to rehearse how tough he wants to sound to the kidnapper, echoing Jerry’s rehearsal scene earlier in the film.

The closer Wade gets to the outer fringes of “normal” society, with all its smiles and courtesy, the less articulate he becomes. (He has already lost his  courtesy in the diner.) When he finally confronts Carl with the ransom money, he speaks in flat declarative, non- sentences. “No Jean. No money!” Apparently, he sounds just a bit too tough, because he receives several bullets for his trouble. In his death throes, he loses his words altogether, and can do nothing but groan in pain. Wade, who is generally  forthright and confident of his position in the world,  is also easily deceived by Jerry.

All of the criminals in this movie are distinctly and  individually inarticulate. Carl Showalter, as played by Steve Buscemi, like Jerry, often loses  track of what he means to say, or searches for the right word. Unique to his character is his inability to pronounce words he thinks he knows, as when he tries to use the word carcinogen, to chide his partner, for smoking in the car. Carl often tries to sound more erudite than he is,  attempting to  get Jerry to accept him as part of a social stratus to which he doesn’t belong. Like Jerry, Carl pretends  at being more socially acceptable than he is, but unlike Jerry, he possesses not an ounce of skill at this, as we witness on his date with an escort, telling her lame double entendres, and asking her if she likes her kind of work. His inability to pronounce certain words is a sign of this lack of breeding.

Carl’s partner, Gaear Grimsrud, played by Peter Stormare, rarely speaks, and when he does, it’s almost entirely in  sentences that can hardly be classified as sentences. He possesses all of the eloquence of a human pitbull. As two men whose position in society is well off the fringe, they are entirely lacking the niceties of behavior, that Jerry pretends to.

    Where is Pancakes Hause?

                           CARL
               What?

                           GRIMSRUD
               We stop at Pancakes Hause.

                           CARL
               What're you, nuts?  We had pancakes 
               for breakfast.  I gotta go somewhere 
               I can get a shot and a beer - and a 
               steak maybe.  Not more fuckin' 
               pancakes.  Come on.

     Grimsrud gives him a sour look.

                           CARL (CONT'D)
               ...  Come on, man.  Okay, here's an 
               idea.  We'll stop outside of Brainerd.  
               I know a place there we can get laid.  
               Wuddya think?

                           GRIMSRUD
               I'm fuckin' hungry now, you know.

There’s also Shep Proudfoot, played by Steve Reevis, who is every bit as inarticulate as Gaear. When Marge goes to interview him for his part in the kidnapping, like Gaear, he barely even uses words, just grunts answers. Later, when beating up Carl in a rage, he just yells in flat declarative sentences. He also has the dubious status of being double marginalized, first  by his race, and then his long criminal background. Both he and Gaear have much in common, as they only seem to have two settings, barely  present mentally, or hideous levels of violence.

The  two young ladies, that Gaear and Carl hook up with at a truckstop, aren’t inarticulate, but  they are distinctly unclear. They are unable to describe what Carl, or Gaear, look like, though presumably, they saw them up close when they were having sex with them. (Its a running joke in the movie that Carl is described as  “funny looking” by all who see him.) As truck-stop prostitutes, they live on the fringes of society,  but they are college educated, which shows in their vocabulary, but their  marginalized social  status is illustrated by the lack of clarity in their speech.

The one exception to this is Marge’s husband Norm. He isn’t very articulate either, but the nature of his silence is very different from Gaear’s and Shep’s. He too, is honest,  forthright, loving, and thoughtful to Marge, remembering to bring her lunch, and making sure she has a hot meal, before going out on a call. But the sense from that is, Norm doesn’t talk because he doesn’t  need to. He’s perfectly capable of expressing his love for Marge in other ways, and as he needs no one but her,  there’s no need to for him to speak to anyone else.

The in-eloquence with which a character speaks, often serves to illustrate where they are on the criminal  and social spectrum, and gives some indication of how competent a criminal they are. Gaear, for example,  is such a vile person, that he  speaks with all the eloquence of a  three year old. Shep Proudfoot, has a long criminal history, and grunts most of his dialogue. This is a deliberate choice by the Coen Brothers,  as we’ve seen that they are capable of creating very erudite, and articulate criminals, in their other films. Hi, from Raising Arizona, for example, whose eloquence is used to humorously offset his criminal background, and Goldthwaite Higgenbottom, the conman from The Ladykillers, who successfully masquerades as a person of higher social status than he actually is.

All that aside, these aren’t very good criminals either, which is a common trope in the Coen Brothers more comedic films. The criminals are often waylaid by events that are  out of their control,  or that they didn’t think all the way through, and their charmlessness also causes some real problems for them.  When Carl and Gaear are stopped by the police, Carl ineptly attempts to bribe the officer. (Marge would probably have charmed the man right out of his uniform.) When Jean Lundegaard, who  is in the trunk, makes noise, Gaear elects to shoot the cop, right there, on the spot. So lacking is he, in the subtleties of human behavior, that he elects, at every opportunity, to go straight to violence, (which is how Carl ends up in the wood chipper at the end of the movie). While moving the cop’s body, two pedestrians spot this from their vehicle, and Gaear decides he has to kill them too. When Carl returns to their cabin to find that Gaear has killed Jean, he says he did it because she was making noise. This is a character who hates the very idea of speech.

Jerry is so inept at his role, that he loses control of his own criminal enterprise to Wade,  who decides he doesn’t want Jerry mucking things up. Wade decides he’s going to deliver the ransom money himself. When he tries to bully Carl, the way he often blusters his way with Jerry, Carl shoots him because, as he’s said previously to Jerry, he’s not gonna debate. This is because, as seen on a couple of occasions, Carl lacks the skill to do that, anyway.

Jerry is so incompetent he can’t even flee the police properly. The first time, Marge accidentally catches him fleeing her interview, when his words fail to convince her to go away. His folksy middle class persona is starting to show cracks. The further out onto the fringes of genteel society Jerry slides, the less convincing his words become, until finally, even his brittle, superficial charm begins to work against him. He fails to convince the police that he’s being cooperative, when they capture him trying to flee through his motel room window, so far has he fallen. At this point, Jerry just gives in to desperate yelling, his  speech having deserted him entirely. This is as low as he can possibly go, and so becomes as incoherent, and inarticulate, as Gaear, and Shep.

And then there’s Marge’s little speech at the end of the movie, her charm still in place, as she naively chides Gaear, for his criminal acts. Her speech doesn’t  actually make any sense, but we are clear on  how she feels about the sordid events, speaking, as she does, from the lofty heights of her social privilege.

At the end of the movie, the status quo has been restored, the bad guys have been captured, and Marge is  the only person involved, who still has words.

 

Oh, and for a great, astute analysis of Jerry Lundegaard,  see:

https://thisruthlessworld.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/what-does-this-movie-mean-the-coen-brothers-fargo-1996/