Tumblr Weekend Discussions

Here are some posts and articles about film and tlevision that I couldn’t fit into the last post. These are just things I found interesting in my internet travels, some old, some new:

On Television

Samurai Jack has long been one of my all-time favorite cartoons. First, its simply a gorgeous looking cartoon, and and much deeper, philosophically, than it ever needed to be to entertain teenagers. This article is almost like an ode to the series:

A lone samurai clad in white stares up in horrified awe at a gargantuan future city, constructed with neon bright colors, clashing machinery, and aliens speaking in a tongue foreign to his ear. This samurai travels through lands of the mythic and mundane, the natural and the supernatural. Here he is again, alone, in a dense forest. The only sounds are chirping crickets and the fire that crackles before him — until a vision of his long-deceased father rips through the tranquility, admonishing him for his failure. These moments aren’t from a prestige TV series with A-list talent or a long-lost Akira Kurosawa film. They’re from Samurai Jack, the animated series created by Genndy Tartakovsky that premiered in 2001, ran for four seasons, and was revived for a fifth and final season that ended this past weekend.

http://www.vulture.com/2017/05/samurai-jack-was-tvs-most-poignant-depiction-of-loneliness.html

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Note: This is a 13 page paper studying Whiteness in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Image result for buffy the vampire slayer  and race

The Caucasian Persuasion of
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Ewan Kirkland

This paper explores Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a particularly white
text. By this I mean, the series is both populated by archetypal white characters, and informed by various structures, tropes and perspectives Dyer identifies as characterising
whiteness.

http://www.whedonstudies.tv/uploads/2/6/2/8/26288593/kirkland_slayage_5.1.pdf

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There are simply not enough WoC in genre fiction, certainly not as primary characters. Shows like Superstition, The Walking Dead, Z Nation, and Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper Series, make a specia leffort to be diverse, but we need more, and better depictions of  fantastical WoC on screen, and in genre literature. We need more Black female witches, vampires and werewolves, and stories that are not alwyas about us dealing with the modern world in the same old way. (We need WoC power fantasies, too.)

Laveau encapsulates better than any other historical figure the narrow position black witches hold in the public imagination. (It’s important to note that, to examine this trend, I am using “witches” as a catch-all term for these characters, including rootworkers and voodoo priestesses.) While their practices — whether Haitian voodou or rootwork — are appropriated to add a flash of exoticism, they often remain thinly drawn figures, pushed to the margins of their respective stories. They are used to incite fear or curiosity in the white imagination, which remains deeply suspicious of black ancestral practices that don’t allow for easy translation. In pop culture, the historical underpinnings of these practices — which were brought to America by slaves trying to fiercely hold onto their own belief systems, even as colonialism tried to beat it out of them — are traded for a simpler, highly exoticized portrayal.

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

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Image result for lewis tan/iron fist

I’m always up for some Iron Fist bashing. Not exactly because I hate him (although I certianly hate that show) but more because I think I’m really mad about what we culd have had, had we listened to Asian-Americans, and simply cast Lewis Tan, for example.

It’s hard to not imagine what could have been. For years, Asian-Americans had hoped that Marvel would cast an Asian-American actor as the lead of its Netflix series Iron Fist, only for the role to go to Game of Thrones alum Finn Jones. The decision wasn’t exactly surprising — after all, the character Danny Rand is white in the original comics — but a casting reversal would have turned a stereotypical narrative into a fresh story about an Asian-American reclaiming his roots. Now, we know that Marvel had seriously considered the possibility: Actor Lewis Tan was on hold for Danny Rand before he was offered the role of the one-off villain Zhou Cheng, who appears in episode eight of Iron Fist.

http://www.vulture.com/2017/03/lewis-tan-marvel-iron-fist-interview.html

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Ben Wasserman clarifies exactly why Iron Fist failed as a series. 

 

And finally, this brings us to IRON FIST, Marvel Studio’s first true narrative flop. Even with all the problems regarding the series’ dialogue, editing and stunt choreography, I believe these problems could have been lessened to an extent had the story been worth caring about. Yet throughout his narrative, Danny Rand is presented as an entitled child whose actions never fit his status, constantly failing to prove his fighting abilities during numerous action sequences while simultaneously being praised as K’un Lun’s greatest fighter by one too many characters. Granted, one could equate this factor to poor choreography, but considering the praise given to DAREDEVIL’s hallway fight, there really is no excuse for sloppiness in a show centered on mystical kung-fu. And yet, underneath this convoluted mess of a narrative lies a theme that could very well have tied in with the other DEFENDERS shows: the rejection of one’s identity.

https://comicsverse.com/defenders-and-identity-why-iron-fist-failed-where-other-marvel-netflix-shows-succeeded/

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A discussion of “The New Yellow Peril” plotlines of Marvel TV series , Daredevil and Iron FIst.

THE FISTS OF WHITE MEN

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With a cast of heroes that includes a woman and a Black man, diversity should be The Defenders’s strong suit, but the show positions a nebulous Asian organization as the villain; considers white saviors, including Iron Fist and Daredevil, as the only people capable of keeping New York City from crumbling; and relies on Orientalism as a plot device.

https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/yellow-peril-in-the-defenders

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Malec and the Burden of Representation

Too much of this article is written from Alec’s point of view, but this is otherwise a solid examination of why LGBTQ representation matters, especially when it comes to Magnus Bane.

MATTHEW DADDARIO, HARRY SHUM JR.

Alec, one of the series main shadowhunters, is in the closet and the reasons for it are almost too many to count. From his society’s aggressive homophobia and an unquestionable loyalty to his family’s legacy to a fear of rejection and an emotionally confusing parabatai bond with fellow shadowhunter Jace, it’s easy to understand why he’d want to keep his sexuality a secret. Especially when it comes to Jace, with whom he shares an ambiguous bond complicated by the fact that one-half is gay and the other is not, in a culture that prohibits romance between them.

http://www.screenspy.com/articles/tv/shadowhunters-malec-burden-representation/

 

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This article discusses why race was such an important feature in Shadow Moon’s story.

Image result for american gods shadow

American Gods and the Realities of Race

…However, Sava’s words only work first to mirror the majority of Americans who are still living in this country with heads in the sand concerning race. They then dismiss a vital component of Shadow’s purpose in the story as both a dark-skinned character in modern America and as a bearer of an important Norse tradition. Sava mostly tries to whitewash the importance of the scene, which is worse than a Texas school board on an American history book.

https://blackgirlnerds.com/american-gods-realities-race/

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Tumblr Weekend Reading

Its been a whole minute since I made a Tumblr post, so here, have some interesting thoughts, memes, and photos, that came across my  dashboard:

Yes, I am lactose intolerant, although I am to understand that I have a fairly mild case. I can eat some dairy items like yogurt, ice cream, and cheese, without  wishing I would die, but a glass of chocolate milk would probably send me to the hospital, with excruciating abdominal pain.  But for real though, most cases of lactose intolerance just end in lots of farting.

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This is funny because this was sort of my thoughts while watching this movie. Earth, and the aliens, are basically a bunch of drama queens.

dragon-in-a-fez

I know we’re always talking about how Pacific Rim embraces the ridiculousness of the human race because “just build a giant robot to punch them in the face” is probably the most full-on human bullshit response we could have thought of to an invasion of giant aliens, but can we pause and also consider that the aliens are basically doing the same thing

like they wanted to invade us and their first thought about how to do so was “let’s genetically engineer giant fucking monsters that will crawl out of the depths of the ocean and trample cities”

Pacific Rim is just the story of two species that on a scale from 1 to 10 respond to every problem with a 17

 

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Image result for cat fighting gifs

The mildly annoying fighting styles of female action characters. I think Charlize Theron, and a couple of others, are leading this charge to make female fight scenes more realistic to how a woman might actually kick some ass. Most filmmakers try to give women pretty, ballet -like, fighting styles, and I don’t mind that a whole lot, but they need to know it’s okay to show women getting down and dirty, when they fight, too. This is why I loved the movie Kill Bill, because it showcased a variety of women vs. women fighting styles.

rainbow-femme

So whenever i would watch movies and see The Badass Female Character fighting in various ways, something about it always bugged me. I just assumed it was internalized misogyny that made me dislike characters like black widow and Tauriel and tried to make myself like them.

Then I was rewatching Mad Max Fury Road the other day and I noticed that nothing bothered me about watching Furiosa fight and I realized the problem wasn’t watching women fight in movies that got on my nerves.

Watching the stereotypical Badass Female Character she always has these effortless moves and a cocky, sexy smirk on her face as everything is easy. Watching Furiosa, she grunted and bared her teeth. Her fighting was hard and it took effort and it hurt like fighting is supposed to. For once her fighting style wasn’t supposed to seduce the audience it was to be effective.

I wasn’t disliking these characters because they were women I was disliking that their fighting was meant to remind me they were women. High heels and shapely outfits and not showing effort or discomfort because it’s more attractive to effortlessly lift a long leather clad leg over your head rather than rugby tackle someone.

It’s the same with the Wonder Woman movie too. Fighting is hard and it takes effort, blocking bombs and bullets with a shield makes her grimace and bare her teeth with the effort it takes. She’s not flip kicking bombs she’s yelling and straining, not because she’s weak or bad at fighting but because that’s what it would be like.

I really hope we’re moving into an era of women having fighting styles designed for realism and not how hot it looks for the men in the audience.

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Image result for serena williams gif

I’d say the answer to this is yes. America has long been obsessed with the Black female body, while trying to pretend it’s not, and here’s why:

Is Society Fascinated with Black Women’s Body Types?

blackfeminisms

Colonialism introduced Europe as the cultural/aesthetic authority on values including beauty. While doctors in ancient times warned against obesity, diet culture began in the 1800s. Weight turned into a cultural status marker that considered fat to be negative. Whiteness as the epitome of beauty imposes a standard that devalues body types by race, gender, shape, size, and color. Society teaches women to deal with fatness through exercise. Nevertheless, Black feminists see Blackness as the site of resistance to the standards.

Society interprets Blackness as indicative of moral, sexual, and racial pollution. For example, a society threatened by Black women’s reproductive capabilities, 19th century Europe likened Black women to prostitutes through the controlling image of the Black Venus, which characterized her as the perpetual prostitute. Society discouraged coupling between Black women and White men through “blood discourses”  that projected the fear of Blackness onto mixed-race children. Some sociologists remarked on this phenomena with  Meghan Markle.

Society treats Black women’s bodies as a danger to social order. On the one hand, they might displace white women as the archetypical love and sex object. On the other, they threatened the patriarchal order of worker by having the status of worker and woman.

Society robs fat Black women of their sexual agency 

Image result for mammy stereotype gifs

Sociologist Shirley Anne Tatediscusses how we can read the iconic Venus statue as a fat Black woman. This perspective reveals which Black women’s’ bodies society reads as fat and how they represent them. Tate embraces an ‘alter/native’ view of Black women to highlight the multiplicity of body politics around Black womanhood. Society treats Black women’s bodies as other to white women’s and does so by making their forms hypervisible. This process simultaneously renders the whiteness of other women’s bodies invisible. As a result, Shirley Anne Tate argues this perspective: “enable[s] us to see that there is a corporeality of white class (Bourdieu, 1988) and gender with thinness as its epitome” (Tate 2015: 80).

The Mammy portrays Black women as undesirable sexually and desirable for service work. The Mammy symbolizes the status of a domestic servant to a white woman through her girth and dark skin. This controlling image reinforces the perception that white women were superior.  For example, Hattie McDaniel played a Mammy figure in Gone With the Wind. The UK has a similar portrayal Black women as “Big Mama. Fat Black women live in a society that paints them as undesirable and worthy of disgust. These beliefs divided fat Black women into domestic and care workers and thin white women into the domestic and care overseers.

Society ridicules Black women for their fatness

In the UK racist humor often revolves around fat Black women. In the 19th century White men dressed in drag to mimic Black women for racist ridicule, making fun of the notion of a desire for this body through minstrelsy. Far from being just a joke, racist humor has more sinister implications:

“Humour is not a harmless or benign form of communication. Rather, ‘racist humour, jokes may act as a type of coping mechanism for the racist, in the form of a palliative because the effects of joking allow for the expression, reinforcement and denial of racism’ (Weaver, 2011: 12). “ (Tate 2015: 91).

Additionally, Some White women performed minstrels too. Originally, minstrels arose from white racial fear of Black men. Minstrelsy thus demonstrates simultaneous racial aversion and desire.  Fatness and Blackness place Black women outside of beauty.Rhetoric in the U.S. frames Black women in terms of discipline, relegation, marginalization, imprisonment, and segregation away from white life, comfort, embodiment, and being. Treating Black women’s body as inferior meant colonial labor and gender roles placed Black women in the lowest rung of the social order.

Society treats muscular Black women with dark skin with fear

Whenever the former First Lady chose to wear a sleeveless outfit, some members of White society reacted to Michelle Obama’s muscular arms:

The struggle over Michelle Obama’s ‘right to (bear) bare arms’ shows that the USA is far from being post-race as the respectable femininity of the First Lady is judged by white, middle/upper-class privilege which insists on lack of musculature on women (Tate 2012:93).

Shirley Anne Tate argues Michelle Obama’s body defines norms of white upper/middle-class respectability. Her very presence creates a space of resistance that represents a deviation from the somatic norms of the U.S. First Lady. As a result, she endured a constant surveillance of her body, viewed as an outsider. Therefore, this fascination transforms her into the Black First Lady.

Why do people fetishize muscular Black women?

Image result for serena williams gif

Black women’s muscle as a spectacle dates back to racist pseudoscience of the 18th/19th  century. Shirley Anne Tate describes Black women’s bodies as a site of fascination.  A person compares themselves and others to a norm. As a viewer, a person extends their own bodies through their gaze. They interpret others through points on their body like their face, muscles, or skin. Comparison of one’s body parts to another leads a person to determine how close or different one’s body is to others:

Inassimilability or extension into the other does not mean that fasci- nation ceases. Fascination continues in the desire to find out the why of assimilation and the untranslatability of the body. Why can’t I be like her? Why do I want to be like her? What have I become? Is my becoming accompanied by fear, disgust, contempt? Fascination makes us look at ourselves first and foremost, at our very lives, to find out why we are fascinated by bodies/body parts. It is in the exchange between bodies, in the matching and untranslatability that we can begin to know ourselves, begin to understand our fascination as a pull to knowing the other, to get behind the façade that is the skin to ‘the real them’ beneath (Tate 2012: 94).

Fascination leads to a desire to find out why a woman’s body does not conform to the norm. However, narcissism motivates this fascination. Hence, people recenter themselves as they gaze upon others’ bodies to construct a sense of self. Therefore, the incorporeality of fascination makes it a fluid, simultaneous process of becoming and unbecoming through comparison to others.

How does fascination with Black women turn into fear?

Fascination is a multisensory experience that has varying degrees of effect and affect, motivated thus making the gaze a result of both desire and disgust. Therefore, fascination compels a response on the part of a viewer as it occurs not only through the senses but also through imaginings.

As a result, people pursue a means to satisfy their fascination. For example, this fascination extends to dark-skinned Black women who have muscular bodies. This affects interpersonal interactions across racial lines. Stereotypes about Black women motivate people to approach them with a feeling of insecurity or a desire to avoid her at all costs. So when Black woman’s bodies get policed in this manner, they are cast as evil and transgressive to indicate they fall outside the norms of appropriate ways of life.

Tate writes that “once it is set outside the norm it remains as it is cast, an unknowable hyper-known, knowledge of which remains within the colonial stereotype.”  White people project their fear of getting displaced in society’s racial hierarchy onto Black women through a racialization process that involves creating zones of containment by labeling her a source of fear.

How is fearing Black women racist?

Groups use fear to maintain racial regimes through the restriction of the movement of others’ bodies. Additionally, they expand their own movement. However, this involves a “racial regime of visible whiteness [that] must be kept in place to ensure that the borders of whiteness are kept firm.”Furthermore, this produces a fear of racial mixing. Rather than mix interracial, they develop resemblances through what Tate names racialized aesthetic profiling:

So expert surveillance is set up of Black women’s bodies, noses, lips, hair, skin colour, breasts, bottoms and muscles so as to mark difference and develop racialized aesthetic profiling. Racialized aesthetic profiling means that fear can be materialized in all Black women’s bodies irre- spective of who they are. This ensures the continuation, circulation and amplification of fear of the Black woman’s body as she begins to move outside of the borders established through the phenotype and stereotype (Tate 2012: 98).

One such Black woman who suffers this fascination is Serena Williams.  Serena, in particular, embraced a “girly” sports aesthetic, which contradicted social norms about appropriate muscularity for women. Yet, society characterizes women with darker skin as undesirable. Serena faces derogatory comments for posing as feminine. Nevertheless, muscular Black women experience fetishization just as fat and slim women experience hypersexualization.

Race and the sociology of emotions

The white affective matrix confers and questions womanhood as the view Black women’s bodies with varying degrees of adoration and disgust. As a result, Black women experience different treatment based on their body type.

The post Is Society Fascinated with Black Women’s Body Types?appeared first on Blackfeminisms.com.
from Is Society Fascinated with Black Women’s Body Types?

 

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These affirmations of allyship are exactly my sentiments too. I want LGBTQ people, Non-Black PoC, people with disabilities, everyone to experience all the same emotions I experience when I think of the movie Black Panther. I am deeply, and profoundly happy for Jewish female representation in Wonder Woman, Black gay men in Moonlight, Queer Latinas in Brooklyn 99, and Asians in Crazy Rich Asians, even though I’m none of those things. Everyone deserves to see themselves beautifully represented on a movie screen.

 deadletterpoets

Maybe I’m not the right person to say this as a black man but,

I hope the success of Wonder Woman doesn’t just mean more women are directing superhero movies, but are given the chance to direct/write movies from the many other franchises that exist like Mission Impossible, Transformers, Star Wars, Anything in this Dark Universe Universal is doing, a big budget Monster movie with Godzilla and King Kong, James Bond, I heard they are rebooting Resident Evil let’s let a talent woman director like Jennifer Kent with her horror background tackle that, Terminator (cause they just won’t ever let that go), Alien, Fast and Furious, and so many other I can’t even name them all. Or you know give them a big budget to adapt a popular book like Ava DuVernay is currently doing with A Wrinkle in Time, or let them have their own stories we need more original voices, or let them build their own unique franchises. And if they fail, let them try again cause lord knows even the best male directors and writers fail at times and they are still given multiple chances. We all should celebrate Wonder Woman’s success, but know it’s not the end of a long journey to true equality for women in Hollywood.

yumearashi

Maybe I’m not the right person to say this as a white woman but,

I hope that Black Panther is a *smashing* success and that it leads to not only more POC directing superhero movies, but also being given the chance to direct/write movies from the many other existing franchises and adaptations.  Plus, let them have their own stories and build their own unique franchises, we need their voices. And if they fail, let them try again cause lord knows even the best white directors and writers fail at times and they are still given multiple chances. Hopefully we’ll all be able to celebrate Black Panther’s success, but even if it breaks every box office record, it won’t be the end of a long journey to true equality for POC in Hollywood.

@deadletterpoets – thank you for being an amazing ally)

 

daughter-of-rowan

Maybe I’m not the right person to say this as a black woman, but

I hope that Crazy, Rich Asians is a roaring success. I hope it leads to doing away with the whitewashing of Asians in Asian properties (I’m talking to you, Netflix: White Light in Death Note? NO!). I would love to see Asians being able to break out of the “smart Asian friend” and “inspiring immigrant story” roles. I want to see Asian representation in CBMs. I want to see more than Japanese, Chinese, and Indian people as doctors, lawyers, shop owners, and financiers on the way up. And while we’re at it: Pacific Islanders are not replacements for Asians, and they don’t just play football and dance. Representation matters, and it has to be more than what makes Hollywood comfortable.

 

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From the comments on this one, I’d say the answer is a resounding YES!!!! Yes, White people, do indeed, get tired of looking at White people onscreen sometimes, and are just as hungry for new perspectives on old stories, as PoC.

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This pretty much was the permanent oven setting in our house. Hell, it was a major source of anxiety for me to turn the oven to 375 degrees, that first time.

luvyourmane: “The perfect temperature for everything! 🤣😂 .. . . . #sundaydinner #cooking #blackpeople #baking ”

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This conversation started out talking about how terrifying angels are, and then went in the direction of the  running commentary, on Tumblr, about how murderously dangerous is the wildlife in Australia.

Anonymous asked:

What do angels actually look like per the bible?

revelation19 answered:

Well, according to Ezekiel 1 they might look something like this…

According to Daniel 10 something like this…

According to Isaiah 6…

In Ezekiel 10…

Again in Ezekiel 10…

 

Basically, when the people writing Scripture tried to describe what they saw when they saw an angel… they run into the end of their imagination… they can never quite seem to fully explain it because they had trouble even comprehending what they saw, let alone being able to describe it to someone else.

 

musiqchild007

revelation19

Yeah, that’s usually how people responded to seeing them in the Bible…

 

the-unreadable-book

There’s a good reason why angels’ standard greeting is ‘Do not be afraid’.

 

glitterbomb-goblinking

I used to listen to this radio show and one thing I remember because it was so funny was a Christmas special where an angel showed up to tell the shepherds about the birth of Christ.  The conversations went:

Angel: “FEAR NOT.”

Shepherds: *screaming*

Angel: “I SAID FEAR NOT.”

Shepherds: *screaming LOUDER*

Angel: “WHAT PART OF FEAR NOT ARE YOU NOT UNDERSTANDING?”

 

 cameoamalthea

So demons are fallen angels but they don’t look scary because they’re fallen, that’s just what all angels look like…

Maybe that’s why so many Christians see visions of Saints or the Virgin Mary instead…like Jesus is all…no, no see being human made me realize sending Angels might not be the best idea. I don’t know if humans can handle this. So I’m gonna just send mom

 

mathblr

I’M GONNA JUST SEND MOM

 

veronica-rich

God: The humans are scared.

Mary: Fine. I’m on it.

 

 upallnightogetloki

Jesus: It’s either Mom or the thousand eyed flaming wheel, Dad, do you really think the humans are gonna be chill with that when they’re terrified of spiders already?

God: Hey now, some of those spiders eat birds.

Jesus: …Dad…

God: …To be fair, Australian wildlife was my dark creation phase.

 

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Image result for funny cartoon  nazi gifs

I touched on this in an earlier post, about Hollywood treating Nazis like a story prompt for the past fifty years, in everything from comedies, to action movies, has led to Americans seriously diminishing their influence, obscuring their crimes, and complacency, with their ideas. 

 kendrasaunders

never forget that narratives that follow “what if the nazis won” are never for those of us who faced their terror- they are for tourists to our suffering, people who wish to be saviors. no jew every gets to succeed alone in a story where nazis win- we, rromas, lgbt people, and disabled people are shunted to the sidelines, in an eternal genocide from which we cannot escape. they forget the persecution that we still face- to them, to the tourists, this is clever. to them, we are helpless. we cannot fight nazis, that’s why they won.

this is a false retelling of history, and YES, in ALL CASES, it is a glorification of nazis. they DIDN’T win because they COULDN’T. and to my jewish, rroma, lgbt, and disabled followers, they lost because WE FOUGHT. We closed camps with our riots. We killed nazis. We scalped them. Our stories aren’t told because every tourist wants to act like they would Stop The Nazis- WE were doing it LONG before anyone came to our aid.

Don’t let people fool you into thinking you are helpless. Don’t let narratives that put white, straight, able-bodied and able-minded characters at the forefront make you think you need them.

Superman was originally created as a gollum- A character of jewish magic who protects us. He is not Christ, he is not Goy, he is not Theirs. We are our own protectors. We are a community, a family, and a riot.  You don’t not have to accept the idea that the Nazis could’ve won. Because the only thing Nazis are good at is dying. And the only thing a person who writes this storyline is good at is violence.

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A call out post on fandoms faux-progressivism. I think I wrote about how fandom isn’t nearly as imaginative, in its treatment of characters, as they like to believe they are, and that the vast majority merely reproduce the same racist and stereotypical narratives they’ve seen in popular media, since its inception. They just don’t have enough imagination to create anything outside of the boxes that have been created for them to play in.

Many of them are in the business of upholding the status quo, too. And far too many think being progressive is just writing about two white men, having sex, or holding hands, and that’s as far as they need to go to be considered woke. Anytime fandom ignores canon gay relationships of PoC, in a show or movie,  my argument is that their insistence on slashing every white man who merely wanders into the orbit of another for longer than a minute or two, amounts to nothing more than a straight girl fetish, which parallels the straight male  obsession with lesbians.

We are supposed to be the most progressive and transformative community in pop-culture.

We who…

  • Hyper-focus on white, male characters
  • Contort these male characters into heteronormativity
  • Marginalize and erase characters of color
  • Write out women and replace them with men, especially in shipping
  • Attack women for “getting in the way” of our preferred ships
  • Hold female characters to higher standards than male characters
  • Hold characters of color to higher standards than white characters
  • Latch onto any single excuse to marginalize female characters
  • Utilize any single excuse to demonize characters of color
  • Put women on pedestals and act as if we’re doing them a favor
  • Justify white and male abuses or dismiss them as “mistakes”
  • Use actual mistakes to denigrate female and non-white characters
  • Romanticize white, male pain and mental illness
  • Expect female characters to perform all the emotional labor
  • Expect characters of color to be perfectly mentally healthy forever
  • Expect everyone to subsume their own mental health for the white males’
  • Dismiss the traumas and experiences of characters of color
  • Minimize the achievements of female characters

And then we wonder why mainstream media is so regressive, especially compared to us. We all talk as if mainstream media creators are behind the times.

They’re not.

Fandom likes to imagine itself as being progressive because of all the slash – a mechanism of progress which conveniently boils down to extra attention on overwhelmingly male (and overwhelmingly white) characters. This form of progress is one which takes a minor deviation from the social norm (homosexuality), only to end up ultimately supporting or even amplifying the status quo, by virtue of over-focusing on male characters (and over-representing white ones in the process).

Strip back that gay window dressing, though, and you’ll see that at best, fandom is just as socially stagnant as mainstream media and mainstream culture – or even worse, by virtue of engaging in media that overwhelmingly sidelines several other marginalized groups in order to prop up one.

Professional women have long known the old adage, “Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought of half as good.” What no one seems to realize is that fandom is still doing exactly the same thing.

We expect female characters to be twice as good for half the acclaim, we expect characters of color to be three times as good for a third of the acclaim, and we let white, male characters be only a quarter as good for four times the acclaim.

Mainstream media is keeping up with the times and with social progress just fine, it’s us who’ve deluded ourselves into believing that we, as a community, are more progressive than we actually are.

It’s been a while, but since this post just got a bunch of notes recently, I figure this is as good a time as any to add on some more thoughts.

Comparative Progressivism

Historically speaking, fandom has been progressive when compared to mainstream media. What most people don’t realize is just how little that’s really saying. When mainstream media is built on white male heteronormative power fantasy, it’s easy for any “alternative” depiction to come off as progressive.

A world where most of the women are fag-hags is certainly progressive compared to a world where most of the women are walking sex toys. That does not mean we should settle for this as a good depiction of women, or the marginalization of female characters.

Same goes for race. A character of color who is not a stereotype while supporting a white character is certainly better than a world where characters of color are stereotypes who are subsumed by white characters. That does not mean we should accept these as good representation of POC, or settle for their marginalization – or ignore their demonization as racism rears its ugly head, anew, in fandom.

And quite frankly, for a community where the overwhelming majority of our stories are based on mlm relationships, it speaks a lot to our internal attitudes and beliefs that we still, even after decades of existence, continue to write gay relationships as straight relationships with different genitals. The subtle heteronormativity that permeates the gay relationship tropes of fandom are astounding, and sometimes reek of internalized misogyny.

We Are All Joss Whedon

Joss Whedon was once considered tremendously feminist, and hailed as a paragon and idol of feminism in mainstream media. But contemporary analysis of his works shows that feminism was often a shroud covering some serious fetishization and occasional bursts of downright misogyny – and somewhat more disconcerting is the fact that more and more, his current works demonstrate that he hasn’t progressed forward from this much, if at all.

Fandom is the same.

We have long prided ourselves upon a history of progressivism and being transformative. It certainly was, back in era of Star Trek slash in an era where homosexuality was still illegal in many parts of America and the world. Fandom was truly transgressive when it wrote content that challenged such a deeply entrenched status quo. Even the most misogynistic and heteronormative portrayal of a gay relationship was transgressive against the staunch heteronormativity of mid-20th century mainstream media.

“Was.”

Because we’re still writing a lot of our fics on that model. Take a look at how many people debate hotly on who in a gay pairing is “the top” and “the bottom”. They are rarely ever discussing the hypotheticals of which male finds a certain sex position/act physically pleasurable. They’re asking, which one is the penetrative and active partner, and which is the receptive and passive partner. They’re asking which one is the “dominant” and which one is the “submissive” partner (with terms like ‘power bottom’ still relying on those baselines). They’re asking, “which one is the man and which one is the woman”. *( And often engaging in racialized transphobia and homophobia, by casting any people of color in inter-racial relationships, as the “top”, who is often described as bigger, and more muscular looking, than their slighter, more feminine/ effeminate same sex partner. This goes for both mlm, and wlw, relationships.

Meanwhile, actual female characters are rarely more than props to the men’s emotional health and personal narrative. A lot of them are written as little more than a fag hag or a “Straight BFF”.

We’ve gone from characters of color being walking stereotypes in the white characters’ narrative, to characters of color being either obstacles or non-existent in the white characters’ narratives. We don’t expect characters of color to literally serve the white characters while saying “yes, massa” all the time, now – but we still expect characters of color to to subsume themselves to white characters, with white characters’ feelings coming ahead of their own mental and physical health, their safety, and sometimes even their lives. Characters of color who have the audacity to act with a fraction of the self-absorption that is routine for white characters are castigated for being irresponsible and selfish.

This is if they’re even included at all. Ranging from marginalization to outright demonization, fandom constantly sidelines characters of color. Some fandoms have the unique anti-honor of being more racist – more sociall conservative, more prejudiced, and sometimes even more bigoted – than the mainstream media source material. Think about that for a minute. Mainstream media is finally moving forward and fandom is staying right where it is.

Fandom Wants the 1960s Back

Fandom can talk about feminism and progressivism all it wants. The reality of the true desires of fandom as a collective and as a community are expressed in its fanworks – not only in what is created in the first place, but which works become popular and get attention…and which ones don’t.

Fandom wants a world where white men are still front and center of everyone’s attention, where women are kickass but their stories aren’t that interesting, and where POC don’t need any care or attention.

Peel back the white mlm fetishization, and fandom hasn’t budged more than an inch since the first slashy Star Trek zines. Joss Whedon’s got nothing on us.

Things I Watched – More Mini Reviews

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Legends of Tomorrow Mid-season Finale

I’ve not been paying really close attention to this show. Just sort of watching it off and on, and enough to know who the main characters are, and the general plot-line. The show just came off of a four-way combination plot, involving Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash, Nazi versions of the main characters, the death of one of my favorite characters, and the cameo of another.

I didn’t care too much for all the Nazi shit, though. For some reason, now that there are real, actual, Nazis having parades in the streets, media content providers (who are primarily White and male) have decided that now is the proper time to tell alternative timeline stories about them. I can’t help but feel that treating Nazis as little more than action movie villains helped fuel Americans laissez-faire attitude towards seeing real life ones, in that nobody takes them seriously. The refusal to take 45 seriously is part of what lead to him winning the last election, so I don’t want to think about what the refusal to take these pseudo Nazis seriously will cause to happen here. (Treating Nazis as little more than story prompts also serves to humanize and normalize them as well.)

I am going to miss Jax and Stein as Firestorm. I read the Firestorm comic books when I was a teenager, and I’ve always liked him, so I was heartsick to see half that team get killed in the last episode, and to see Jax’s heartbroken demeanor for much of this one. Although the plot was fairly ridiculous, involving a time-misplaced, plush toy, that causes the Vikings to invade America. There was a more serious parallel story of Jax dealing with his grief at Stein’s loss. I was also happy to see Snart again, although this is not the same version who starred at the beginning of the series, but a softer, more emotional Snart,, who spend his time trying to get his old partner to stop drinking, and open up his feelings.

On an up note,  the end of the season saw the introduction of Constantine to the ship’s roster. I don’t now how long he’s going to hang around, but even though I hated the series about Constantine, (and the movie wasn’t all that great either), I still loved the actor who played him in the series, and I’m glad to see him.

 

Sleight

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I watched this movie this weekend, and found myself enjoying this a lot. Now, if only it were made into a TV series. It certainly presents an uncommon superhero origin story in Bo, a former engineering student who implants an anti-gravity device, he invented, into his bicep. This device allows him to levitate objects and do magic tricks, which helps him make money to raise his little sister.

Bo also has a job as a low-level drug dealer, working for Angelo, played by one of  my favorite cinnamon rolls, Dule Hill from Psych. Angelo wants Bo to move up in his operation by moving more product, but Bo makes a critical mistake when he tries to shortchange Angelo, who goes ballistic, demands an exorbitant amount of money as payback, and  kidnaps Bo’s  sister, when he can’t make the deadline. If he wants to rescue her, Bo is going to have to up his game.

This was a much quieter movie than I expected. There are long character moments where Bo is just talking to his girlfriend, or his sister, and a scene where he meets with his former engineering teacher, who helps him make a stronger device. (Bo’s little sister is being played by the upcoming star, Storm Reid, who will be starring in Ava Duverney’s A Wrinkle in Time. ) These scenes serve to make the action scenes a lot more suspenseful, especially at the end, in the final confrontation between Angelo and Bo, that you know has to happen, sooner or later.

There’s some child endangerment issues, but it all ends okay, with stability restored, and Bo, his sister, and his girlfriend, Holly, starting their family life together in a new city. I could’ve done without the drug dealing angle, because I really wish that writers could do some other type of story, based on current Black lives, that didn’t involve crime. When writers do this it just serves to, once again, associate Black people and crime together. Luke Cage and Black Lightning are both guilty of this, (despite that I like them.)

It’s a predictable film, which is saved by the performances of  Jacob Latimore who plays Bo, and Dule Hill. It’s also really weird seeing Dule play a bad guy, especially when his most famous role is Shawn Spencer’s best friend Gus, on the show Psych, which just released its new movie. So I had the pleasure of watching his two performances side by side. Dule needs more work.

This is a good comedown from the bombast of the  Justice League  and Thor movies. Bo isn’t trying to save the world. He just wants to save his sister, and movie on with his life, and that’s okay. The action scenes are still pretty thrilling, too. The movie was directed by J.D. Dillard, who is also the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

 

The Problem with Apu

I watched this one idle Sunday evening. It’s a documentary hosted by Hari Kondabolu, an Asian American comedian. His argument is that the character of Apu should be done away with on the Simpsons show because its nothing more than a collection of the worst Indian stereotypes, which is offensive.

Now, I had stopped watching The Simpsons years ago, and I didn’t know this was even happening, but apparently there has been a big push by Indian Americans to have Hank Azaria answer for this offensive character he created in the show. And rightfully so.

Not being Asian, I didn’t really get it at first. I didn’t like Apu all that much, but also didn’t see anything wrong with his depiction. Once again, it’s not for me to say what’s offensive to other people. If Asian Americans find it offensive, then that’s all that needs to be said. It should e fairly easy to get rid of the character, as he isn’t one of the primary characters on the show. The documentary appears to have been effective because the show runners have given this some amount of thought and addressed its issues.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/simpsons-hank-azaria-addresses-the-problem-with-apu-documentary_us_5a26f57fe4b0ee6f9637dbee

 

Happy

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This show is every bit as batshit as I thought it was going to be. Normally I don’t watch so much gore, since so much of it it’s just gore for the sake of having it, but I actually enjoyed this show, and it turned out to actually be funny. It’s so over the top, I couldn’t possibly take any of it seriously. Not to say it doesn’t have some truly dark aspects.There’s a child endangerment angle some people might not be too comfortable with.

Christopher Meloni is absolutely perfect as a down on his luck detective named Nick Sax, who used to be famous, but now works as  an addled and drunken hit man. He has a heart attack in the middle of one of his hits and loses consciousness right next to the dead body of his last victim. When he wakes up in the ambulance he coerces the paramedics into giving him lots of nitroglycerin, but he is also being harassed by a blue, cartoon, flying horse, named Happy.

Apparently, Happy is real, I guess. He’s the imaginary playmate of the endangered little girl I mentioned earlier, and since Nick is the only other human being who can see him (Why? Is it a near death thing? A genetic thing?), Happy needs his help to rescue her. This is complicated by Nick being pursued by cops who want some information they think he has, and some mobsters.

This is very much a niche type of show and is not for everyone, says the woman who is too delicate to watch cop shows. I suppose technically this is a cop show, but apparently, I like cop shows that have a great deal of humor in them, like Reno 911, and Brooklyn 99 (I know you’re noticing a theme here. The show must have a location or number in its title, and be a batshit comedy).

The humor is very adult, involving shootings, hookers, and corrupt cops, and I found it all to be deeply funny, but can’t explain why. I think this is meant to take the place of the pulp show, Blood Drive, which I didn’t particularly care for, even though it was just as insane. (Maybe I didn’t like it because there were no cops in it.) It’s also a very energetic and loud show. I will probably keep watching it, but for jeebus’ sake, despite the presence of Happy, do not let your kids watch this show.

It is totally not for kids!!!!

 

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

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Like The Void, this is one of those horror movies that flew just underneath everyone’s radar. It’s genuinely spooky, mostly because you have no idea what the Hell is going on, or why things are happening for most of the movie. The plot sounds pretty simple on the surface but becomes increasingly complex until finally you’re left with the final idea that none of it is accidental and that everything that happens is, very malevolently, on purpose.

A father and son coroner team receive a female body in their morgue, that presents some bizarre mysteries, most notably that they can’t tell what killed her. After they start her autopsy, a number of strange events occur, like the death of their cat, sounds, footsteps, and voices, are heard in empty rooms of the facility, a strange fire, and a mysterious fog, all of which culminate in the deaths of both of them, leading to an even further mystery for the emergency workers who find them.

The body of the Jane Doe they had been examining is moved on to another morgue, and I had the distinct impression that it had been moved on  from several other morgues, after the deaths of the examiners, and after the ambulances that transported it,  met with accidents themselves. This same body (which is probably possessed by a demon or a witch) just moves from morgue to morgue, with no name, and no identity beyond looking female and dead. You think at first that this is a simple ghost story, but I suspect this is something much more subtle, and sinister, than a ghost story, in that this body had probably never been alive.

If you liked the movie The Witch, this movie has the same deeply creepy feel. I was most appreciative of the minimal jump scares, and the absence of any scenes where people get dragged along floors by mysterious entities, cuz I’m getting especially tired of that one.

 

Strange Empire

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I saw the trailer for Strange Empire a few weeks before the release of Godless, so when I saw the trailer for Godless, I was reminded of the first. Strange Empire has much the same plot as Godless, and it has more prominent WoC in it, so I decided to skip Godless, which didnt appear to have any WoC at all, watch this instead.

I’m about halfway through the season, and I like it, but its tough watching because most of it consists of the women trying to avoid prostitution. Unlike Godless which boasted of its all female cast, Strange Empire actually bothers to have the women front and center, and its a really interesting group of women. The show takes place in Alberta Canada, during the same time frame, so I don’t know if that has much parallel to Godless.

In both shows a group of women have been left to fend for themselves against some ruthless male foe. In Godless, all the men have died in a mining incident, but in Empire, the men are massacred by a local brothel owner, named Aaron Slotter, whose wife just lost a child.. There  are two  feral young women who are to be sold to a brothel, and a half Indigenous woman named Kat, who adopts them, to save them from that life. When she hides the girls, the caravan of men they were traveling with are massacred by the brothel owner, and he tries to coerce the women into working for him.

In the meantime, Aaron’s wife, a bi-racial Black woman, named Isabelle, schemes to get money from  father, by substituting the child of one of their whores , for their dead son, and she works with Kat to rescue the two young girls her husband wants to sell to the highest bidder.

There’s also a neurodivergent female doctor, named Rebecca, who forms a friendship and alliance with Kat, even though her husband was one of the few men that survived the massacre. It took me a moment to figure out that this young lady had autism, but she also happens to be a surgical genius being held back by her husband’s fears of her being insane, which is the only understanding anyone had of autism back then.

Outside of the main plot involving the women trying not to be sold into prostitution, it’s not a bad show. Unlike with Godless, the women (mostly Kat) get most of the screen-time and dialogue. There are men in the cast, but it most definitely isn’t about any of them, although they are important to keeping the plot moving, most of their time is spent fighting with Kat, or killing each other.

So if you’re looking for a good Western, but checked out of Godless because of its overwhelming whiteness,  and its prioritization of men or some other reason, than check out Strange Empire.

 

Most shows are heading into the winter hiatus right now, which should give me time to post some mid-season reviews of Supernatural and  The Walking Dead and a couple more movie reviews, along with that character review of Star Trek Discovery that I promised.

Forthcoming TV In January

3rd

9-1-1 (Fox)

I normally don’t watch these types of shows because they’re too stressful, but the Divine Angela Bassett is starring in this show, and I’ve never seen her play a cop before, so I will watch the premiere episode, and get back to you on what I think. One of the co-runners of the show is Ryan Murphy who does the American Horror Story Series, and I’m curious about what he’s done with this subject.Those of you, who can handle higher levels of stress than me, may enjoy to watch it on the regular. If so, let me know how you like it in the comments. Just because I’m not watching something doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t want other people to enjoy it.

 

The X-Files (Fox)

I’m sort of looking forward to the return of this show. I was never a fan of the Mythology stuff, although I followed along so I didn’t get any more lost in the plot than usual. This looks like a continuation of the six episode mini season we got last year, which I sort of enjoyed. I’m not wildly enthusiastic but I’m not un-excited. Imma check it out, see if I like it, and get back to y’all later.

 

7th

Star Trek Discovery (CBS All Access)

I’m thoroughly hooked on this show. I’m still not remotely interested in the Klingons, but I’m into the human characters and whats going to happen next. See my upcoming review of the first half of the season before the second half airs.

 

10th

The Magicians – Season Three (Syfy)

I had mixed emotions about the last season. On the one hand I loved the humorous part of the narrative, and Quentin’s mystery solving capabilities. I’m especially enjoying Dean Foggs larger role in the story. On the other hand, I hated Julia’s storyline because it’s so horrifying and tragic. I just don’t like watching this character be abused every season, and it’s a storyline that doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the show. There was also the issue of killing off two gay characters last season, one white and male and the other, a disabled black woman, and that really put me off the show. But I will watch the premiere and see if there will be more of the same. If so, then I can’t make this regular viewing, although those who are less delicate than me, about such things, might have a grand ol’ time.

 

12th

Philip K Dick’s Science Fiction Anthology: Electric Dreams (Amazon)

I know nothing about what kind of stories will be on this show, but I think it’s meant to be Amazon’s rival to the critically acclaimed Black Mirror, which airs on Netflix.

 

Taken – Season Two (NBC)

I didn’t watch the first season of this show because I wasn’t interested, but now in the second season the creators have decided to try to save it by giving the plot and cast a complete overhaul. I personally feel that this is the kind of storyline that should ge remade every season with an entirely new cast and details. It also has a new showrunner, the guy who ran the show Person of Interest. POI was another show that I never meant to start watching, but the plot and performances drew me in, and I stayed watching to the end. Maybe the same will happen with this show.

 

Proud Mary (In Theaters)

I’ve been a fan of Taraji P. Hensen since her Person of Interest days, so I’m very excited about this movie., and so is my Mom. I think it reminds her of those Blaxploitation movies starring Pam Grier. (And she just likes Taraji, too.) This is notable becasue it’s a Black woman carrying a major action film. No, Taraji’s not the first, but it is rare enough to take notice. We keep  getting all these female versions of John Wick, and I guess this is the Black version. (We already have some Asian guy versions which are basically any movies by John Woo.)

 

16th

Black Lightning (CW)

I’m looking forward to this. One of Black Lightning’s daughters is a superhero in her own right, and it’ll be nice to see a Black woman hero on TV. Maybe if we’re really lucky, the show won’t suck, and we can get a spin-off.

 

22nd

The Alienist (TNT)

I read the book by Caleb Carr that this show is based on. I’m a sucker for Historical mysteries set at the turn of the century. I have no idea why. And since I liked Ripper Street, I thought maybe this would capture me too. It looks good, but once again you’ve got a really really White NY city. (Why does Hollywood keep forgetting people of color have existed in both London and New York City since their inception?) But it stars Luke Evans, and he has an epic jawline and I need to support that while it’s on TV. Dakota Fanning, I can either take or leave.

Coming Soon To A TV Near You

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Here’s a list of various upcoming TV programs and series, that I might watch, or am excited about, this month. Some of these will available for streaming on Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix.

For the rest of December:

 

Happy:

Starring Christopher Meloni, and Patton Oswalt, this has already aired, and I haven’t yet watched the episode. As soon as I do I’ll let you know what I think. I was kind of excited about this mostly because I’m a Christopher Meloni fan, who will watch him in just about anything, and Patton Oswalt’s not a bad comedian. This looks almost as zany as Legion, but probably less confusing, and maybe it will be funny. It’s definitely very graphic, so if you have trouble watching lots of gore, maybe take a rain-check on this one. Believe it or not, its actually based on a comic book, and does not star a superhero, so it will be interesting to see other things besides superhero shows from comics in the next couple of years.

Meloni’s character is some kind of cop, or hitman, I’m not sure which, who starts to hallucinate a tiny blue horse that is the polar opposite of his demeanor, in that its named Happy, and tries to get him to see the bright side of living.

 

Knightrfall

This has also just aired after the new episodes of Vikings. I wasn’t impressed, not because its a bad show, but because I’m not interested in this particular era of history, or this area of the world. I checked out after the anti-semitic sentiment (which was common for the time period) started to work on my nerves, a bit. So if you’re Jewish, and were planning to watch it, maybe you can skip it, and that’s okay. I can say it’s an extremely pretty show, but the dialogue needs some help. I don’t think this show is going to blow up the same way Vikings did, though.

 

7th: Psych :The Movie

I was an on again off again fan of the series, so I’m mildly excited about this, even though Tim Omundsen isn’t making an appearance, (or so I’ve been lead to believe). Tonight, we get to find out what Gus and Shawn have gotten up to since the series ended. One of the biggest draws of the show was their friendship, and I’d like to immerse myself in their silliness for a while, and I’ll let you know what happened.

 

13th: The Librarians

I’m not a fan of this show, and have never seen a single episode, which is really weird, because I’m a librarian and, I believe I’m required, by some law, to watch it. Maybe I will.

 

15th: Jean Claude Van Johnson

I saw the first episode of this and was shocked to see Phylicia Rashad in it, as Jean Claude Van Damme and Phylicia Rashad are not two names I ever associated with one another. Here, he plays a government agent whose secret identity is being the famous Jean Claude. I sort of liked it. I thought his self-deprecation was pretty funny, but the humor is uneven and  doesn’t fit well with some of the violence in the show, even if some of that violence is played for laughs. It’s worth a watch if you like Kung Fu, and comedy.The show airs on Amazon Prime.

 

18th: Gunpowder

I’m  looking forward to this, even though it airs on HBO, and I don’t have that network anymore. It’s  about the events leading up to Guy Fawkes Day in England and star Kit Harrington from Game of Thrones..

 

19th: The Indian Detective

I like the idea of this. I enjoy watching detectives of other cultures, as they attempt to solve crimes within their respective cultures, or attempt to navigate someone else’s. Also, Russell Peters is the star, and I think he’s pretty funny. This airs on Netflix, too.

 

21st: Peaky Blinders

This also airs on Netflix. I only partially watched the first couple of  seasons of this show, which stars Cillian Murphy, about a criminal gang from Birmingham England called, what else, Peaky Blinders. I’m excited for this new season which also stars Tom Hardy.

 

22nd: Bright

This is being touted as one of the most expensive original  shows on Netflix, and we know why. Will Smith costs money! I’m very excited about this because I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of Will Smith smartin’ off at strange creatures any time soon, and who can resist the mashup of Elves, Orcs, and the gangbangers of LA. This is the very definition of “Urban” Fantasy, and I’m here for it. It also has music videos.

 

25th: Dr. Who Xmas Special: Twice Upon A Time

As usual, every year there’s a Xmas special that introduces the old Doctor Who to the new Doctor Who, or to the viewers. Since the new Doctor is now a woman, I might actually watch it this year. It’s also my last chance to see Pearl Mackie and Peter Capaldi together, again. What happens is, rather than recording the show like a normal human being, I usually end up skipping it, going to bed, and then forgetting that it ever aired.Well, maybe this year I may remain awake (if the day hasn’t been too strenuous), and get to watch it this time.

 

29th: Black Mirror

I’m not a huge Black Mirror fan. I watched bits and pieces of the last season, and my attitude was “It’s okay.”, but I like the new trailer for this season, which looks fun rather than gloomy, or tragic, so I guess I’m going to be watching a lot, (and I mean, a lot), of Netflix this December.

 

31st: Dave Chappelle 

I didn’t care for Chappelle’s last show on \Netflix. I just didn’t think it was as funny as I expected it to be, but I’m glad to see he’s working again, and I’ve always been a huge fan, so I’ll check this out, instead of partying on New Year’s Eve.

 

Next Up: What’s coming in January

We have a lot to look forward to next month, not just on TV but in theaters.

Also: a list of forthcoming TV shows for the next year, and which movie remakes are in the works, or being discussed for 2018

 

Hi! Have Some Mini Reviews

Attack of the Killer Donuts

Yep! Its attack of the Killer Donuts. I was eager to watch this the moment I heard about it, but didn’t know where I’d be able watch it. I thought maybe it would take at least a year for it to reach the Syfy channel, maybe. Its actually on a library app called Hoopla. (If you have a library card, and your library subscribes to Hoopla, you should be able to access free books, movies, comic books and music.)

Yes, this movie is exactly as stupid as it sounds, carrying on in the grand tradition of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and stars our boy, Ponyboy,  I mean C. Thomas Howell, yucking it up, as a cop who naturally, loves donuts. I’d list the other actors in this movie, but you still wouldn’t know who they were. It’s an entire cast of nobodies, who will never be anybodies, because that’s just how atrocious their acting is.

It’s hard to make a parody of a parody, but this movie actually  manages to successfully spoof Killer Tomatoes. Johnny is a hapless loser, whose blonde bombshell girlfriend cheats on him, and who doesn’t recognize that  his childhood friend, Michelle, has been totally crushing on him. He lives with his Mom, while his uncle lives in the basement and does weird medical experiments on rats. Also, his Mom is secretly sleeping with his nerdy best friend, Howard. Johnny works in a local donut shop that’s been going out of business for years because the town is nearly dead.

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Michelle is a techinical genius, who fixes computers, in her spare time. Unfortunately, her shiftless, dumbbell brother takes all the credit, and refuses to pay her for it. Michelle has been crushing on Johnny since they were little kids, and I totally bought into their relationship. The actress is good  enough, and there’s just enough backstory, to be able to sell her friendship with Johnny. Why does she love him, especially since she’s the smartest person in town? Because it’s in the script.

When Johnny’s uncle’s weird resurrection experiment manages to contaminate some donuts, the infection soon spreads to the rest of the shop, where the donuts come alive, sprout giant teeth, and decide to chew their way through the town’s inhabitants. Do not stop to ask yourself pertinent questions like: Where did they grow those teeth from? How are they moving around without legs?  Where is all the flesh they’re eating going to if they don’t have stomachs? And do the donuts produce poop? Never mind all this! Just enjoy the sheer goofiness of watching crullers, twists, and creme filled long johns, flying through the air, and trying ot bite people.

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I got a real kick out of this movie, though. It’s not very deep and I got a few hearty laughs out of it. The characters are definitely meant to be mocked and ridiculed. The three smartest people in the cast are Michelle, Howard, and Johnny ,who manage to fight off the donuts, and prevent possible donut Armageddon, by beating back the donuts using a combination of bravery and batlike objects, and blowing up the donut shop. The body count is pretty  low, but only because the movie doesn’t have a large enough budget to star more than ten to twelve people anyway.

The characters who are meant to be liked are likable, and you root for them to survive. The characters who are meant to be hated, are hatefully over the top, and you gleefully hope the donuts will eat them, like Johnny’s asshole boss, who allows Michelle to be bullied and sexually harassed by some dudebro customers, and Johnny’s faux-girlfriend, who is only with him because he keeps giving her money. Michelle is waaay too pretty and smart for Johnny, but that’s also on purpose. Heroes in these movies are almost always outshone by their girlfriends.

The stars of the movie though, are the donuts who chase, bounce, jump, bite, and generally act like a pack of rabid weasels. Occasionally someone  eats one of the cursed donuts and they, in turn, become rabid, and attack people, too. These are some of the cheapest, funniest special effects, I’ve seen in a while and I loved it! You could do worse than spend a happy, mindless, 90 minutes with this movie.

 

Star Trek Discovery

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I re-subscribed to CBS All Access because they offered some kind of special to sign back up. Of course I’m sure they realize, that as soon as the first season of this show is over, I’m going to unsubscribe to this  channel, because there’s not a whole hell of a lot to offer on this network. I generally don’t watch CBS. (They don’t have especially interesting shows, there’s almost no diversity, and there’ aren’t a whole lot of movie choices, either.)

Well, I subscribed so I could watch the first half of the first season of Star Trek Discovery and I have to say. I’m hooked! It took about three days to get through the first 7 or 8 episodes and now I’m invested. Like a lot of shows that do so, it improved from the pilot episode, with the introduction of new characters and themes.

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The first two episodes don’t really give a lot of indication of what the show will be like the rest of the season, and by the 4th and 5th episodes the show has definitely developed its flavor, with a good balance of light heartedness, and seriousness. Michael Burnham’s character takes a real turn when her prison ship is diverted to the Discovery by Captain Lorca.

Michael isn’t well received on the ship. Most people either hate her or fear her, except for Lorca, and her roommate, Tilly, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. There’s also been the introduction of a love interest named Ash Tyler, played by the lovely Shazad Latif, who was rescued from a Klingon ship, suffers from PTSD, and may be a Klingon spy. I’m also really liking Anthony Rapp’s character, after I hated him in the first couple of episodes. Something happened to him that made him much more likable and approachable, without changing his essential nature.

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Each episode has a philosophical theme, that can get a little bit heavy. and I’ve gotten the impression that a lot of the kids on Tumblr aren’t used to Scifi shows being like that, I guess. But if you’re an OG Star Trek fan you should be well used to that sort of thing. The show definitely captures the spirit of Star Trek, if not the exact timeline and details. One of the things you may have the hardest time with is people cussing, and actual (not implied) sex scenes, because up til now, its mostly been a very PG type of show.

I’ll do a more in depth post on this later this month, after I’ve had some more time to think about the characters and plot.

 

Justice League

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Certain parts of this movie I really enjoyed, mostly any scene that didn’t involve Batman, or the villain. The end of the movie is a hot and colorful mess. The pacing is off, the music is annoying, just really, this could have been a  better movie.  But there are things to like about it. The most compelling story is Cyborg, and I wish I’d gotten to see more of The Flash, because all we got from him is quips. He still turned out to be my favorite character in the entire movie, which was a suprise because I thought it would be Aquaman. (Cyborg is too grim and tragic to be a favorite, although I really liked him, and I look forward to his solo film.)

It doesn’t help matters that every time I heard the villain’s name, I thought of the band Steppenwolf, (I did not know this was an actual character in DC comics.), and the funky remix of Magic Carpet Ride would play in my head.

 

Thor: Ragnarok

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This was a much better movie, even though I was trying really hard not to compare it to Justice League.  I really love Taika Waititi, and his brand of humor is stamped all over this movie, plus there’s a lowkey anti-colonialist message underneath all of the fun.

My favorite moment is Hela’s entrance into the story, and the introduction of Fenris. I didn’t know I needed to see a giant wolf  until I saw it. The Hulk turned out to be a lot funnier than I thought he would be, and of course, Jeff Goldblum was gold! Tessa Thompson was having waaay too much fun blowing shit up, and catwalking her way through the action scenes, and I loved it. Heimdall has a much larger role in this movie, and I’m eternally grateful at getting to watch Idris Elba kick some ass with a giant sword.

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Funny moment #213!

I had a great time!

 

Blade of the Immortal

I used to read this Manga back in the nineties, becasue that’s what I was doing back then, reading Samurai Manga, and binging YA novels. If you’re looking for a fairly faithful rendition of the manga, this will do.

Manji is about to die in battle when he’s approached by some type of immortal nun, who infects him with something called blodworms. The bloodworms heal any injuries he gets, no matter how severe or life threatening. In the books, he can only be killed after he kills 1000 men. Well, in the movie its been 50 something years, and he hasn’t killed 1000 men yet, when he’s contacted by a woman, Rin, who wants him to avenge her family’s deaths at the hands of the local sword fighting school.

I really love Samurai movies, ever since I first watched Seven Samurai, and will watch almost any one of them. I really liked this one, but not for the story, which I found not too remarkable. I liked it for the gore and sowrdfighting. I’m pretty sure Japanese viewers will get a lot more out of watching this movie than I did, but for me it was all just eye candy and some great fight scenes. And there are a lot of those, and naturally, there’s also a lot of blood. Blood and appendages are flying all over the place in this movie, re-attaching themselves, only to be lopped off later in the film. While this has the unintended side effect of muting any danger that Manji might be in, Rin is still in peril, and you’ll have to settle for a will she or won’t she survive type of thrill.

 

Valerian and the City of One Thousand Planets

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I was really hyped to see this movie because its got creatures, aliens, scifi costumes, and action and adventure, and I like Dane Dehaan. I ended up being disappointed, not because this is a bad movie, but because  it has so little substance to it, and I just expected more. Despite all the alien candy on display, the most fascinating thing, in the entire movie, was Cara Delevigne eyebrows. Talk about eyebrows “on fleek”. I kept staring at them, wondering when she had time to do her makeup, with all the shooting and running around she had to do.

I was also mildy excited because there was a big deal about the  singer Rihanna being is in this movie, as a shapeshifting character named Bubble, but she doesn’t appear until about 3/4 of the way in, and is killed off soon after, as she sacrifices her life for the two White protagonists, after one of them tortured her for information. Everything aobut this character is just bad, when looked at from the perspective of race. Everything!!! She’s toyalty of some kind, who was kidnapped and enslaved, and reduced to the level of a sex worker, (who is happy to be whatever you want). The worst part is that this tragic character is meant to be a form of comedy relief.

So let’s get this right:

Enslaved? Check!

Sex worker?Check!

Torture of yet another PoC? Check!

Comedy relief? Check!

Sacrifices herself to save the White protagonists? Check!

*Sigh!*

It’s like the writers went through a list of all the  Black film stereotypes they could find and wrote the character around every one of them. It wouldve been better if this character had never existed at all. (That would still have not improved this film however.) I know Rihanna is a huge scifi geek because she said so, but she really needs ot choose her nextproject with more care. I had no trouble with her performance of Bubble, however. She came across as funny and sweetly vulnerable.

There’s a lot of action in this movie. A lot of running around all so that everyone can end up in the same place, which has the side efect of making you think all the running around was to no purpose, a series of film vignettes, loosely based around the movie’s McGuffin. There is the same underlying theme of colonialism as in Thor Ragnarok, but it’s so nebulous you can barely see it.

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And so am I.

 

Superstition & Stuff I’m Not Doing

Well apparently, I’m not reviewing any TV shows, which I probably should be doing. Actually, all it is is that I’ve been busy and tired to review the shows, and movies, I’ve been watching, and I’ve been watching a lot of stuff.

What have I been watching?  I have been watching The Walking Dead. So far I’m really liking this season. It’s very action packed, and full of feels, and I like that. All of my favorite characters are doing some next level shit as  the war between The Alexandrians, Hilltoppers, The  Kingdom, and The Saviors  heats up. I haven’t been feeling any urges to write about any of these episodes though, although I find  Morgan’s storyline the most compelling. I just learned that my precious tigress is dead. Shiva got taken out by a pack of zombies, while defending the life of her king. (RIP Shiva! You badass!)

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I’m so tired!

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Part of the reason I’m not reviewing so much is that I’m tired, but part of it is that I don’t actually know what to say about it yet.. There’s not a lot to be said about the plot, other than to recap it, and if you’re watching the show, you already know what happened. Morgan and Jesus came to “fisticuffs’ over the treatment of prisoners of war, and Carol got her kill on for a while, and Gregory kept it real by being an asshole. I do have thoughts about the characters, and major themes, but I think I’ll wait until after the first part of the season is done to comment on those. We’ve got three episodes left, so I think I’ll just do a summation of my thoughts at the end.

I always get fatigued in November and December, and not because I’m celebrating the  holidays. I’m not celebrating, or hosting or anything. It’s a combination of insomnia, sleep apnea, and finding human beings exhausting, even when they’re not jitterbugging with overexcitement  about the  holidays. (Also, some of it is just a change in the weather and age. Feeling cold all the time is just tiring. Y’all yunguns just don’t know!)

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And I don’t get any respite from the weather while at work. The PTB keep it freezing here, so all the women are wearing sweaters, and carrying around tiny electric heaters, while many of the  men walk around in shirtsleeves, and poke fun at us for being cold all the time. I can’t stand them!

 

Supernatural

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Where was I? Oh yeah, I’ve been watching episodes of Supernatural, but not reviewing those either. I have liked the episodes I’ve seen, but that one particular standout episode, that occurs every season, hasn’t happened yet. I’m waiting for that one. There’s only so many times I can say this episode deserves a B-. So far the show appears to be in a kind of holding pattern except for the return of Castiel from The Empty, but it’s still early in the season, so we have plenty of time to establish where the plot is going, but our theme is, as always, is family.

 

Ghost Wars

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I’ve been watching Ghost Wars, which is still chugging along on the Syfy channel. I’m liking this show, with one of my favorite characters being played by Meatloaf. He is doing an exemplary job on this show. I hadn’t paid too much attention to his acting before, but I love him in this show. He is tearing it up! The show is actually proving to be kinda scary. I’m not normally into ghosts. I don’t usually find them particularly scary, but the show is pretty good at establishing mood, and I find most of the characters likable. There’s a token Black woman,  a scientist from the local research center. No, I would not be surprised to find that some physics experiments were behind the influx and hostility of the ghosts.

 

The Exorcist

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The Exorcist has kicked it into high gear. The first few episodes were spent establishing the information about where, and who, the characters are going to be, and then trying to figure out who is possessed. So we’ve figured out  its John Cho’s character, who is possessed by a demon that’s masquerading as his late-wife, and this is really groundbreaking for American television because Asians don’t often get to be possessed by demons, and the show is actually proving to be compelling. There also an added gay subplot, as one of the priests is engaged in some flirtation with a local silver-fox, who looks like Anderson Cooper, (if he was a fisherman). There’s also a secondary plot about some type of holy order of assassins hunting down a cabal of demons, which is only of mild interest to me. I’ll have more to say about the treatment of the show’s traumatized children, and their disabilities, later.

I am working on some long form essays. I can still knock those out, it seems. And I have a bunch of ideas, that I’m not gonna tell you about, because I wanna surprise you. I’m going to  concentrate on those for a while, along with a few long form movie reviews, and eventually I’ll have something to say about The Walking Dead, and Supernatural.

 

Superstition

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What I have been enjoying is the show Superstition. I mentioned it before, and said I wasn’t greatly impressed with the acting,in the pilot,  and I thought the drama was a bit much, considering I didn’t know any of the characters, but I’ve kept up watching it, and it’s maturing into a compelling show.

Superstition has an all Black cast, about a family, The Hastings, who have a history of fighting monsters. It’s their calling, and their base of operations is a small-town funeral home in Georgia. It stars Mario Van Peebles, and while I was a bit dubious about the quality at first, I’m  glad  the show is here. Even if it doesn’t become a breakout hit, it’s still a good foot in the door, paving the way for other genre vehicles starring PoC casts, (so is The Exorcist).

That said, this show has greatly improved since the pilot. The acting has gotten much better, too. I’ve got a good bead on people’s relationships to each other, and the show can, and does sometimes surprise me, by overturning certain tropes, or not going in an expected direction, and it keeps me asking questions, on the basis of those relationships, which is proving to be the show’s strong point.

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Isaac Hastings & May, Chief of Police

The show stars Mario Van Peebles as Isaac Hastings, who taught his son Calvin the ins and outs of monster killing, and his wife Bea, who runs the day to day operations of the funeral home and, I think, is one of the keepers of the family lore, along with a woman of mixed parentage named Tilley. I’m not certain if Tilly is a member of the family or not, but she’s very smart and nerdy, and I like her. The local police chief is May (above), and she has a daughter by Calvin, named Garvey. Garvey is the least likable character on the show but only because, as is  typically written, she’s an obnoxious teenager. There’s nothing wrong with her acting. The character is just annoying.

The show has a lot of Black women, and all of them have complicated, and occasionally mysterious, relationships with each other, which Calvin has to try to navigate, along with getting to know the daughter he never knew he had, reacquainting himself with her mother, and his childhood sweetheart, May, who is now the Chief of Police. He has already been through a bout of people fighting, as he has returned from the Iraq war, after having left town many years ago, and not had any contact with his family, after a falling out with his father.

The show is notable for its depiction of a stable Black family, depictions of Black love and loyalty and Black women actually holding conversations with each other, instead of screaming at each other. Its also important for PoC to be shown being heroes, saving themselves and each other, and being total badasses, in general. Calvin is obviously meant to be the everyman hero of the show. I like how the writers allow him to be human, complex, tragic, and also have a sense of humor. I love the female friendships (and mild enmities) on the show. I like what I see between Garvey and her Mom, Bea and May, and them and Tilly, who seems to be some kind of archivist or researcher. She’s the one who most often explains whats going on to everyone else.

What’s interesting  for me is Calvin’s flirtation with his old girlfriend, May. He was taken aback at the idea of having a daughter he didn’t know about but he’s taken it in stride and wants to get to know her better (though Garvey is having none of it. She’s used to not having a Dad.) I like that May and Calvin are trying to get back together, and making some effort at getting to know each other again. The show could’ve taken the easy way out, and had the two of them hating on each other, and I’m glad it didn’t go in that direction.

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I made the mistake of reading the reviews on IMDb, which truly indeed was a mistake, because some of the reviews seriously pissed me off. The show is being roundly hated on , while being compared to Supernatural. Superstition is everything that Supernatural isn’t, and it really isn’t fair to compare the two. For one thing, Superstition has a cast of WoC, who are well written and treated better by the script. None of the Black characters are there to make White characters lives better or happy, or sacrifice themselves for them. (And I am unlikely to be subjected to the image of an innocent Black woman being held at gunpoint, by a deranged stalker, because the Black writers  have at least some sensitivity to their audience.)

Other than a family fighting monsters, I don’t see  much resemblance. Half the shows on TV have the same premise as Supernatural, so I don’t understand exactly why that’s the comparison being made, unless of course the reviewers are Supernatural stans who just hate any shows about the supernatural, or are too young to remember that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a thing. There’s also a third reason, but I don’t wanna get my blood pressure up by talking about the Klandom today.

 

The Hastings aren’t travelling the country, evading demons, fighting angels, and developing superpowers. Their base of operations is a funeral parlour,  which they’ve been at for a long time, and everybody in the family knows what it is they do, and appear to be on board with it, including Garvey. They also have a society or person (I’m not sure which) which rivals them, called The Drudge. There are other mythologies and belief systems being represented besides European ones. For example, one of my favorite actors, Jasmine Guy, is doing a great cameo as a representative of  Anansi, named, of course, Aunt Nancy, and I love her already, and all she had to do was show up, and be intriguing.

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Isaac and Calvin Hastings

 

For the Hastings this is all just a job. The show tries to make what they do seem as normal as possible, as just a family profession. This show doesn’t talk down to its audience, or browbeat a point, because that’s not Peebles style.  Superstition doesn’t give you a whole lot of setup, which I had a moment getting used to. It throws you right in the deep end with Calvin. You learn what he learns as he learns it. You get one explanation and then it’s  on you to keep up. If you don’t pay attention to the dialogue and you miss something, you betta rewind, because it probably won’t be mentioned again, but still may be an important plot point later.

The atmosphere is one of normalcy, with routine answers to supernatural  puzzles, like trying to retrieve May when she gets trapped in a “mirror world” by an evil witch. There’s no oohing and ahhing about the paranormal in this show. It’s the bizarreness of the situations people  are put in, and the relationships between the characters, that is the source of most of the drama. Supernatural started as a show for teenagers, and still has much of that flavor. This is a show about grownups for grownups. The audience is expected to pay attention and keep up. I reminded more of the show Leverage, crossed with the X-Files, more than anything else.

Not that the there aren’t legitimate criticisms of the show. The pacing needs some smoothing, some of the acting is  still a little dodgy, but not enough to make me stop watching. It could use some memorable music. I don’t care so much about the special effects, as I don’t think that’s what makes a good show, and some of the acting could be tightened up a bit, but its far from being the worst show on TV, and shows real promise of future greatness, and I’m here for it.

 

So, I’m off for the next couple of days, and will get back to you, for some weekend reading, later this week.

TTFN

Pop Culture Talks About Race

I read an interesting article that stated, one of the reasons that the Civil Rights Movement was successful, was because of the progression of technology. Basically, the invention of portable hand held cameras, in the 50s, which allowed the media to be on the scene, up front and center, when riots, marches, or any type of civil unrest was occurring, instead of photographers who showed up after the fact.  It allowed the media to film, in real time, exactly how Black people were being treated in America by the police, and it provoked a global response. Some of the global response to such images is what helped to  promote the passing of the Civil Rights Bill. I don’t know if this is true but it was an interesting thought.

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With the invention of camera phones, and apps that record our deaths in real time, one would expect an equal progression on racial issues, along with the technology, and there is some. Certainly there’s a greater degree of awareness about how we’re treated, that media news cameras were unable, and in some cases, unwilling to capture. Now, images of Black death and brutality are everywhere in social media, but there has been no corresponding progress in empathy from White people.

In some cases, watching some of these videos, has become for some White people, little more than pain porn, or virtue signalling. In some instances, the prominence, and easily availability of such images, has had the side effect of producing a defensive White-lash from some people, who don’t want to admit that they don’t care about Black lives (or any lives but their own, really), are content with the status quo, yet are too ashamed to admit that they are callous, soulless, individuals, because they still want others to see them as “good” people.

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Black pain and degradation has always been on display. It has always made great spectacle for a certain class of people. High visibility does not mean that Black Americans have power. There are those who use the spectacles of of our brutality to try to make themselves look good to others, and those who are certainly willing to watch Black pain, can sympathize with  it, and yet, are content to do nothing but  emote about it on Facebook, because it’s not something that  directly affects them.

And then, there are those non-Black people of color who mistake attention and visibility, for power, and think we should also do the free labor of speaking out on their behalf, while never having spoken on ours.

This is from one of the more mature discussions about race I’ve seen on Tumblr. (It’s been my observation that most of the people there are too young, and lack enough nuance, to be able to hold deep discussions on the topic, but sometimes there are exceptions.)

Anonymous  asked:

People are still burning over how we got “too much attention in Charlottesville,” and I’m like, …? What people don’t realize is that attention is fruitless. Our suffering makes good clickbait, but nothing’s really being done about it unless we do it. And all that attention just gets us the envy and bitterness of other groups who insist there’s a checklist of things we not only have to fight for, but things we have to put *before* our own lives.

phoenix-ace  answered:

Exactly.

I think that part of the problem is that there is a lack of education about black people, a lot of people really don’t see us as people they’re willing to learn about. I think there is a problem with people conflating Imperialism with “American” and they take it out on minorities that are based in the U.S. because we’re an easier target. And I also think a lot of non-black people internalized that racism against us  because it is so engrained all over the world so that informs their opinions of us.  So they only  go off of the little bit they’re taught about us in school or see in the media.  I feel like they they believe that anti-black racism is something we deserve, and the point is to avoid being tread like us more than it is to stop white supremacy all together.  However, I think things go a little deeper than that.

I believe that they don’t know (or don’t care) about the way anti-black voyeurism has been an instrumental part of white supremacy in the U.S.  So they see a bunch of pictures of our dead bodies and some crying people and think “oh folks care about *them*.”  They don’t realize that people were passing around images of our lynched bodies for hundreds of years and people still didn’t care, there still weren’t consequences, no one stood up for us.  It was an acceptable part of our existence in this society.  They don’t realize that the way that they talk to us and react to us is directly affected by the idea that violence and hostility are our lot in life and the only way we can relate to people.

So they get envious because their histories are different than ours.  They forget that we live in this strange dichotomy where we are both visible and invisible at the same time.  We’re visible as targets, and invisible as victims.  We are everywhere when folks want to make ahistorical claims of oppression we “inflicted” on others but we don’t exist when they want to erase our contributions to their communities or when they want to appropriate our history to a more “deserving” minority group.  People will spread pictures of dead black children but won’t show up to support us when we want justice, worse, they’ll argue how we deserved to be victimized.  They want us loud and visible to fight battles, but refuse to give us the credit (only the blame if the activism isn’t perfect or something goes wrong). They want us to know everything about their cultures but they don’t know a thing about us beyond what racist media tells them.

Heck, the only time I’ve seen people really focus on black people is when they want to tell us we’re doing something wrong or leaving someone out.  I’ve never seen non-black people focus on black people in a way that has helped us.  People who have never overtly supported black people a day in their life have this misconception of our privilege and obligations, because they honestly don’t relate to us as suffering *people* with priorities as much as they see us as a social justice customer service line they can call and rant at.  Case in point: Look at how many people will talk about how *others feel* but will never examine how we feel or what we’re facing.

But its not just their fault: They weren’t property so they don’t get how our race gets us attention because we were primary targets, not because people wanted to help us.  Black skin was equated with whatever negative qualities they could project on to us to justify our enslavement.   When we were enslaved, our race meant that anyone who was black could be kidnapped and sold into slavery even if they were free.  We were criminalized by laws just for being black and not working for the same people who owned us after slavery was made “illegal” after the Civil War.  We’ve always had “attention”. We could never “assimilate”.  We had to be visible to survive, because the moment we were silent they could destroy all of us and the world wouldn’t bat an eye.  We had a precarious existence here, and a lot of people don’t realize that because they were never in our position.  They might have been oppressed in other ways, but they were never *property*.  The U.S. didn’t base the countries prosperity on their enslavement so they don’t get how visibility works here.

They don’t realize that our visibility has never been a privilege, because they experience racism in different ways than we do, and that they don’t have to act hostile towards us, and erase our history just to bring visibility to other people.

tl;dr: I think that people let their anti-black bias inform how they relate to us, but I also feel like they don’t understand that visibility doesn’t work as a privilege for us like it might for others who have a different history here in the U.S.  A lack of education is definitely to blame and they need to take the initiative to practice what they preach when it comes to solidarity (and intersectionality) and learn how our visibility informs our reality as black people in the U.S. and that needs to be a central part of anti-racism discourse.

Source:
And I’m warning you now, the charge will be lead by  young White women, who lack knowledge of intersectional politics, or a nuanced understanding of feminism, who are  pretending to be progressive, and concerned. You can argue with them if you want to, but remember, the Block button is always available, when the bullshit gets out of hand. When you feel your mind start to unravel from the nonsense, don’t argue. Just block!
The “White Feminist” bullshit has already  started regarding Valkyrie from Thor Ragnarok. I apologise in advance for subjecting your eyeballs  to the following  argument. (Feel free to check out at any point after the second paragraph, cuz its a shitshow of several isms.) This topic was already addressed by Stitch’s Media Mix (on her blog,) so I’ll follow her lead, and not link to the author’s name, but here is the original post and some of the other responses:
I finally realized what bothered me so much about about Thor: Ragnarok. Well, aside for all Thor’s characterization that went out the window in favour of him being a blumbering idiot who has no idea how to respectfully speak to a woman. Or the poor language choices, but I hope that was a problem with the Italian adaptation and Thor didn’t actually speak like a dumb teenager.

Anyway, my problem was with Valkyrie, more specifically with the fact she’s male coded. Heavily so.

Let me explain: there is this war veteran, who is drunk in the very first scene, whose fight buddy, who was supposedly its female love interest, died in the last war and said veteran became a rogue, violent drunkard lost in an empty life polar opposite to the past of gretness and honour of before, a past said fighter doesn’t want to be reminded of.

How many male characters are there in cinematography with this same, boring, pathethic story?

The only difference between them and Valkyrie is that she has a female body. But only that, her body, because nothing in her behaviour, gestures, way of speech or anything at all shows the slightest hint of female feelings or qualities. Loki is more feminine than she is (which is arguably intended by both writing and acting, but that’s another matter).  Gosh, even Thor has feminine bits and pieces!

My point is, Valkyrie’s character was written exactly like a “tragic male character”, then they took a female actress for the role because they realized they didn’t have enough female speaking characters (read: none other than Hela) to pass the Bechedel test. Spoiler alert! They still don’t.

 

theravennest

 This whole post is pretty anti-Black, specifically anti-Black women.

I’m gonna need you to examine why you felt like Valkyrie, a Black woman, was “too masculine” and lacked femininity to the point of seeming more masculine than both Loki and Thor.

Valkyrie was so wonderfully female in pretty much everything she did, I just can’t with this.

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steverogersorbust

Look, the Bechdel test needs to stop being invoked as the end-all be-all marker of well-written female interaction. Not that Thor gets off the hook for this, because no two female characters ever really interact with substance (though it’s notable that the two female characters who did interactTopaz and Val—are women of color) but that’s not really your point, OP, is it?

So back to Valkyrie being a male character in a female body, I….yikes. So much wrong with this statement. Reading Valkyrie as heavily male-coded means we’re assuming that women can’t have alcohol dependencies, that they can’t be powerful and flawed, that tragedy and fear and trauma as a result of war are sole domains of men, that women can’t or shouldn’t have the same complicated and flawed existences as many male characters do. Do we need a woman onscreen to, idk, nurture someone or reference her inferior upper body strength in order to be classified “feminine”? Did we need her to make a boob joke like Bruce did for Nat in AoU? Did we need her to use her ~wiles~ to trick someone or be a sexpot? I think you’re ascribing to a very binary understanding of gender qualities, and perpetuating some harmful stereotypes with this idea…after all, Valkyries are referenced by Thor as an elite force of female warriors—that they’re women is a significant factor. She is a Valkyrie. She is a woman. She gets a moment where we see her brush her hand over the Grandmaster’s cheek and he blushes in satisfaction. We see Thor try and preen for her as a show of attraction. We see Bruce call her “so beautiful.” We see her femininity in other people’s reactions to her, and that’s enough. Everything else is gravy because the story doesn’t need or doesn’t rely on any tired tropes of femininity to move forward.

 

scottmccute

 No matter what black women do y’all racists will always see us as “too masculine” lmao. And you vision of what is or is not “feminine” seems pretty sexist op. Not to mention, since when are tragic soldier backstories only meant for men? It’s actually refreshing that for once, a woman gets the “turns rogue after being traumatized by the war and the fact that she’s the only survivor of her faction, but eventually joins the hero to fight the villain” storyline.

Image result for proud mary henson

 *Valkyrie  sounds very like the character Jessica Jones, who is also  a flawed, complex woman, who has been through  severe trauma, and copes by drinking. Jessica  is  also stronger than most men, is unsympathetic to other people’s emotions (too busy dealing with her own), doesn’t act in a traditionally feminine manner, and yet, not once did I ever hear her being called “unfeminine” or “male-coded”. In fact, she was lauded as the epitome  of feminism by White women fans. (I personally can’t stand the character but I get why she’s important to others.)
Then there’s Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde, and Fury Road’s Furiosa, all hailed as feminist highpoints in cinema. Not once did I find any essays declaring that Charlize Theron lacks femininity, or that her story was too masculine coded. So, in light of the reception of Theron to the ranks of movie action heroines, it will be interesting to see what White female fans will think of the Dora Milaje, Taraji P Henson’s character, Proud Mary, which will be released in January, and Deadpool II’s Domino character, played by Zazie  Beetz.
Image result for zazie beetz domino

Never mind that plenty of Black girls and women will look up to Valkyrie, played by a Black  woman (of Cuban descent), that  they’re arguing has no use, because her character doesn’t fit their standard of White European femininity, (which is an utterly ridiculous admonishment, because her character is an alien from another planet. What the hell does masculine coded even mean in that context?)

One of the primary reasons, (among many), that that critique is so horribly wrong, is because it falls right in line with the Masculine Black woman stereotype, (which, ironically, seems to be something that both Black men, and White men and  women, can all get together to agree on). This is an insult that has followed any Black women who White people perceive as  even the slightest bit threatening, from Venus Williams (my idol) to Michelle Obama. Woven into the accusations of being too masculine are threads of transphobia, and misogyny, as well as racism.

Excerpt from:    https://blavity.com/how-serena-williams-and-viola-davis-taught-me-to-be-an-unapologetic-black-woman

“The type of body-shaming in Tarpishchev’s comment, while subtle, comes gift-wrapped in a triad from hell: misogyny, racism and transphobia. By referring to the Williams sisters as “brothers,” Tarpishchev resurrected the tired notion that black women are unattractive because we are more “masculine” than other women and are “indistinguishable” from men. These types of jokes are used to say that black women aren’t “real women,” that there’s something just not right about our bodies, not feminine enough, too muscular, too “scary” and that we’re worth less because of it. Look at radio host Sid Rosenberg, who called Serena an “animal.” Imagine how many black women are internalizing these messages. There’s little difference between Tarpishchev’s words and the transphobic slur the late Joan Rivers used to slam First Lady Michelle Obama, calling her a “tr*nny.” Both use black women and trans people as the butt of a body-policing joke.

*(While searching for articles on the topic above, I had to scroll through all manner of racist garbage, that so pissed me off… well, basically, do NOT do that shit, if you value having low blood pressure.)

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https://www.salon.com/2017/08/25/despite-declarations-to-the-contrary-black-people-watch-game-of-thrones/

Image result for dem thrones

The Black Person’s Guide to Game of Thrones

My response is a little off topic, but I wanted to address the two twitter hashtags for Game of Thrones referenced in this post. You have to check them out. They are hilarious, and totally from a Black American perspective.

I initially resisted watching the show. I just wasn’t interested, which is weird because yeah, I am a geek, and required, by some type of natural law, to automatically like such shows. I only started watching it at the behest of, ironically, a White girl-friend from work. It wasn’t until after I started regularly watching the show, that I discovered there was this huge Black component of the fandom, who really, really loved this show! And I only found that out because I was looking for reviews by Black critics and stumbled across one by accident.

Image result for thrones y'all

Other people  would be puzzled by Black fans love of the show, but I’m not. GoT is kinda like a White mashup of Scandal and Empire, with ice zombies, and dragons. Now if we could only transport Cookie Lyons to that world, she would have things whipped into shape, by the end of the season. (Cookie is more terrifying than any dragon!)

 Why Is Society Intent on Erasing Black People in Fantasy and Sci-fi’s Imaginary Worlds?

Over the weekend I binge-watched 3%, a dystopian sci-fi Netflix original set in Brazil. The plot was rife with quirks and unexpected turns, but the biggest surprise of all was that the diversity in the show reflected the diversity in Brazil. The cast featured myriad shades and races, absent the stereotypical casting, such as the confinement of black and brown actors and actresses to supporting characters with botched, surface-level backstories.
*And oh yeah, according to actual  Historians, the term “Historical Accuracy” can no longer be used as an excuse for not adding Black and Brown people to fantasy narratives. It’s  past time to retire that fucking term! If your mind can wrap around orcs, dragons, elves and ice zombies, then you should have absolutely no problem dealing with the idea that PoC also exist in a fantasy world.

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Image result for black panther movie

*I always love reading about Black people’s excitement for this movie. I have often referred to the release date of this movie as “The Ascension”, so you can see I have already lost my everlovin-mind about this movie.

…Come Feb. 16, 2018, black people across the African Diaspora will pack the theaters with our ceiling-touching geles, our brightly colored dashikis, and our sharpest black-and-white attire, and lose our collective black minds.

All for the purpose of celebrating the blackity blackness that will be the premiere of Black Panther.

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

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If You’re a Black Woman Who’s Tired of White People Touching Your Hair, There’s a Game for That

* I just finished playing this, and it’s a helluva lot of fun. (Its also hilarious.) It’s a very simple game, that requires you to “throw some hands”, to protect whatever updo you’ve chosen, from a selection of hairstyles, while you travel to diferent parts ofthe world. You can choose your skin tone, a hairstyle, and the area of the world you’re attempting to travel to, while dodging pale hands that are trying to invade your personal space. You lose energy if the hands make contact for too long. The sheer level of “Bitch, please!”, on that woman’s face, is priceless, (although I suspect this is an expression that most people, of any color, wear at the airport.)
There’s a link at the end of the article:
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 And from the irrepressible Terry Crews:
 https://youtu.be/2jNFymV3J-M
There are still some people who want to victim blame this man for what he’s been through, saying he should’ve hit the man, or hurt him, somehow. People like that are not taking into account that Terry’s situation isn’t any different from the situation of the White women who have been assaulted. He was powerless at the time it happened, and his wife was ready for it. Many blessings upon her for being the level headed woman she is. Sometimes “keepin’ it real” isn’t the smartest response to a situation.
Some of the less smart among us don’t understand that not everything in the world can be solved by hitting someone, and Terry would only have destroyed himself, and his career, by responding with a suckerpunch, and his assailant knew that. In fact, as a Black woman, his wife would probably be intimately familiar with such a dynamic. 
Terry is no dumb jock. He clearly states why the optics of race also come into play. A large Black man, hitting a small, (but powerful) White man, who just assaulted him, would not look good in the media. He would’ve lost everything.
For those questioning why he chose now to come out about his assault, he addresses that in the interview, as well.

Bladerunner 2049 LinkSpam

<i>Blade Runner 2049</i> Knows You Aren’t Special

Hey there! Have some weekend reading on one of my current favorite films: Bladerunner 2049. Yes, I have read all of these, but there are quite a few out there that I haven’t had a chance to read, so if you have a link that’s not listed here, please feel free to post it in the comments! And just a word of warning, since so many of the articles deal with social issues, you should probably avoid reading the comment sections, if you want to keep your blood pressure at a manageable level.  The White Nonsense Faction was out in full force for a lot of them.

 

Identity

*One of the primary plot points in the new Bladerunner is Ryan gosling’s character, Officer K believes he’s the special child born of a replicant from the first movie, Rachael. He believes tihs because of an uploaded real memory, something forbidden to replicants. He finds he’s not as special as he seems, when he discovers other replicants also hold  the same memory. He becomes more human when he moves past this need to feel special. And so would we:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2017/10/17/blade-runner-2049-is-about-learning-that-youre-not-the-main-character-in-your-own-story/?utm_term=.47e2d3dd43f2

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/11/blade-runner-2049-knows-you-arent-special.html

https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/10/9/16433088/blade-runner-2049-spoilers-review

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/10/the-real-and-unreal-in-blade-runner-2049/542574/

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Dystopia

*Do the Bladerunner movies predict the eventual outcome of capitalism run amok?

http://thephilosophicalsalon.com/blade-runner-2049-a-view-of-post-human-capitalism/

*Are we tired of dystopian narratvies yet, considering that we might well be living in one? And does that fatigue acoount for Bladerunner’s poor run at the box office?

http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/why-blade-runner-2049-may-have-been-a-victim-of-peak-dystopia-fatigue-w507722

Whether Harison Ford's character is a replicant has far-reaching implications for the film series — and for what it says about our own society.

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Race

Bladerunner has been criticised for doing a lot of borrowing, mostly of  Asian aesthetics,  and Black American cultural narratives. 

As critic Angelica Jade Bastién recently noted at Vulture, mainstream dystopian sci-fi has always been obsessed with oppression narratives. While it returns over and over again to the downtrodden-rises-up-against-the-subjugator model, the genre has always had a remarkable ability to overlook the persecuted groups—people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities—whose experiences it mines for drama. White creators, men in particular, tend instead to whitewash their casts, imagining themselves as both villain and hero. Rather than simply putting the real thing in the story, their tales become metaphorsfor the real thing. Blade Runner 2049 falls into this trap: Even as Wallace grandstands about “great societies” being “built on the backs of a disposable workforce,” everyone the movie deems powerful or worth exploring is still white and almost 100 percent male, relegating those disposable workforces’ descendants to the story’s incidental margins.

———–   https://www.wired.com/story/blade-runner-2049-politics/

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http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/10/06/25457531/race-and-blade-runner-2049

http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2017/10/13/on-blade-runner-2049s-asian-influence-and-disconnect

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/blade-runner-2049-why-it-matters-deckard-is-a-replicant-1046963

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/06/blade-runner-2049-dystopian-vision-seen-things-wouldnt-believe

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By contrast, in both Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049, the notion of white-skinned replicants as escaped slaves does not fit the historical and representational iconography that we associate with slaves as being both black and engaged in menial labor.  Neither film gives us a glimpse of the ‘slave labor’ that the replicants were engaged in on the off-world colonies.  Therefore, the written preamble in both films about replicants being used as slave labor in off-world colonies does not become a significant theme in either film.  From the perspective of dispassionate black spectators, all we see are white people killing other white people for somehow not being authentic white people.  The replicants are near perfect reproductions of white people that even the authentic white people in pursuit are unsure about until after they have been killed. It is in this way that one might consider both Blade Runner films as mediations about white-on-white crime.  “Do white people kill other white people for not acting like authentic white people,” might be an alternative title for both films.  Furthermore, does being a slave for the benefit of white people automatically revoke one’s status as human? 

—————–   https://shadowandact.com/blade-runner-2049-slavery

 

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Women

One of the themes in Bladerunner 2049, is the commodification, of  not just labor, (which has always been so), but women . Of their bodies, their sexuality, and in the case of Niander Wallace, the commodification of reproduction.

There are also all the issues surrounding the character of Joi and her relationship to Officer K, what she is, what she thinks, and does any of it matter if she’s not real.

There are also issues stemming from the films excessive use of the male gaze and how that impacts the film’s message.

http://mashable.com/2017/10/14/blade-runner-2049-feminist-environment-patriarchy/#Dp20nOimkkqJ

http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/10/20/blade-runners-immaterial-girls/

http://www.denofgeek.com/us/movies/blade-runner/268248/blade-runner-2049-and-the-role-of-joi-in-a-joyless-world

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The Actors

I disagred with a lot of this article. The author completely dismisses the role of of the holographic Joi, in K’s existence, and her projection of a certain type of mindset onto Robin Wright’s Lt. Joshi, but otherwise, this is a nice solid article on how well Gosling captures K’s quiet inner life.

http://www.vulture.com/2017/10/ryan-goslings-vulnerable-performance-in-blade-runner-2049.html

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THE MEANING OF LIFE IN ‘BLADE RUNNER 2049’

A philosopher expounds on the film’s deep questions about knowledge and genetically engineered life, and offers some clues as to its ambiguous ending.

https://psmag.com/news/meaning-of-life-blade-runner-2049

 

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Audience

*This new movie seems set to duplicate the box office results of the first Bladeruner. In this article, the author of Robopocalypse, Daniel H. Wilson, wonders why that is, and ponders the new film’s thematic content.

https://www.wired.com/2017/10/geeks-guide-blade-runner-2049/

Racism in SciFi

*I just wanted to elaborate on this article, that I posted earlier in the year, on the topic of how race is depicted in SFF genre films and shows. No matter how well meaning the filmmakers may be, their blind spot is almost always racial in nature, and it is impossible to completely and fully tell certain narratives, if the creators refuse to even look in the direction of race. I don’t know if it’s intentional, or deliberate, but one of the failures of modern SFF cinema is an inability to approach the subject of racism  from an honest perspective, when these creators are White.   This is why creators like Jordan Peele, Ava Duverney, John Cho, and even Rod Serling are so important. They did not (do not) ignore race as a factor in the stories they are (were) trying to tell.

Why Don’t Dystopias Know How to Talk About Race?

————Fantasy novelist Daniel José Older sees the problem as a failure of imagination and craft. “I find it very telling how little these worlds that are so much about power and oppression and ways of resistance also magically somehow have solved race,” he said. “On the one hand it’s a truth failure in the sense of it doesn’t feel real to anyone who knows about the lasting power of racism and to anyone who is paying attention to the world today. And it’s a craft failure in that it is a tremendous missed opportunity to develop the world more deeply.”

http://www.vulture.com/2017/08/why-dont-dystopias-know-how-to-talk-about-race.html

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* I’ve been seeing an increasing number of SciFi shows where Blacks, and other minorities, are being cast as the oppressors of White protagonists. We’re not arguing that PoC can’t work for oppressive systems, because plenty of them do. And we’re not arguing that PoC cannot discriminate against White people.Yes, we know PoC can be bigots (towards other PoC, mostly) but that’s not what is being discussed here.

We’re talking about the casting of Black people, particularly, dark skinned, Black women, as virulently racist bigots, which  is starting to become a trope. From Teen Wolf, to The Gifted, to Heroes Reborn, I think the White male writers who create these shows are starting to get a little too comfortable with this idea.

They don’t seem comfortable with depicting actual racism towards PoC by White people, and they continue to cast White actors as the oppressed minorities in these racial allegories (like The Handmaid’s Tale). It’s especially galling in a racism/slavery allegory, to not only erase the existence of  PoC, who are actually experiencing what is being depicted onscreen, in the real world, but to cast them in the roles of the oppressors, and I’m not here for it. I’m also not here for White Writers stealing the narratives of oppressed people of color, but then NOT including any of those oppressed people in the story. (I touched on this briefly in my review of The Gifted.)

One of the major reasons I stopped watching Heroes Reborn wasn’t just because of its lackluster, badly written plot, but because  a Black woman was cast as a virulently nasty, hardline racist, who was willing to kill children, and the children they showed her killing, were White. This is the same plotline used in the final season of Teen Wolf, where a Black woman is seen killing and sometimes torturing White teens, and again, in the show The Gifted, you have a brown-skin man, of indeterminate race, spouting racist jargon against the White protagonists of the show, and hunting and arresting White kids. All of these shows steal the narrative of Black and Brown people being killed (shot, tortured, and abused) by people in positions of authority, but does not include any of these Brown people in the story that’s being told. Instead, casting White actors in roles that real PoC actually live out.

The Gifted is even more annoying because there are PoC on the show who are members of the oppressed minority, but we don’t get to see their stories, sympathize with them, or understand what their lives were like. We do get to see them be bravely tortured by the government, which sends the message that not only are our stories available for consumption, but the pain and degradation of PoC is as well.

Just Like A Caucasian

How Sci-Fi and Fantasy Television Shows Always Get Racism Wrong.

                                                     ————Shabazz Malikali
On Medium.com

 

 

**Reprinting my review of The Gifted, (which I wrote before I saw this article)

I’m simply not in the mood for this show, and I’m fed up with this type of plot, now. It’s loosely based on some of the X-Men and New Mutants comic books, in that it has some Sentinel plotline, and some of the characters from those groups. Stephen Moyer stars as a lawyer who used to prosecute mutant criminals, and  the father of two young mutants, now on the run from the government, which is rounding up mutants and imprisoning them in scientific camps.

I tried watching the first episodes, and while I like a couple of the characters, the show is simply not compelling enough to keep me watching it every week. The characters have the usual teenage angst, with superpowers, that made me dislike the First X-Men movie. Blink is a teenager who can teleport by creating portals, and Thunderbird, who is Native American, is a kind of tracker of people and things. I’m dismayed that the show used the Native American tracker stereotype, as that’s nothing like Thunderbird’s actual powers in the books, which consists of speed and strength.

And I’m just not here for yet another plotline of people with superpowers being rounded up and used by the government. This seems to be the only plotline they can come up with for superpowered characters, especially on TV, and once again, there is only the focus on how this affects White, suburban, middle-class families.

Just like with the show Heroes, there is no focus on how the discovery of superpowers would affect any marginalized communities, something I would consider much more entertaining, and which the show Cleverman handled with a certain amount of depth. As I complained about before, we keep getting stories about middle-class White characters being subjected to the same oppressions that have been visited on marginalized communities. This show would have had far more depth and been much more interesting if it had been set in the G/L community,  or the Black and Latinx communities, in which this type of interment is already occurring.

In the forties, the Japanese were rounded up in internment camps because they were considered a danger to the US, and later, authorities used to raid the gay and lesbian communities and lock them in jails with the full force of legal authority behind them. Today, its immigration officials grabbing random Brown people out of their homes, and locking them up on suspicion of being illegal immigrants. What do you want to bet that none of these things will be addressed in yet another show where we see average White people being treated in the same manner?

 

*For further reading check out Malikali’s article on The Ellison Test. It’s great reading, and available on Medium.com, (which I can’t link to here.)

 

The Ellison Test: The litmus test for diversity.

 

 

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Another way that TV and movies get racism wrong is the constant message, and I’m not certain this is intentional, is the idea that the people being oppressed actually are powerful and dangerous and need to be controlled. So, while Hollywood steals the narratives of PoC to sell their oppression stories of White people, they paradoxically send the message that the oppression is also deserved. This is what went wrong with the movie Zootopia. Zootopia made some excellent points about discrimination, but the animals being discriminated against are all powerful animals that traditionally eat other animals. There’s also the setup that in the past these animals did indeed eat the lesser animals, and so deserve persecution and fear. So Zootopia is trying to tell a story condemning the discrimination and persecution of others is wrong, it reinforces the idea that the ones being persecuted deserved to be feared and hated.

This is also the same problem I ran into with the X-Men and Mutant hysteria plotlines of The Gifted.  The persecuted minority are actually exceptionally powerful beings, and actually can destroy human life, and even the entire world, which goes against the racism metaphor the stories are trying to establish, and defeats the anti-discrimination message that’s being touted.

One story that does get the themes mostly correct is the graphic novel called Maus by Art Spiegelman, in which the Jewish people are represented as helpless prey animals being harmed by cats. The cats are depicted as Nazis.

How Zootopia Gets Its Own Point Exactly Backwards

———–The movie starts with a history of the world, explaining that while predators used to be uncontrollably violent, they have since been civilized and can now live among prey animals, which also means behaving like prey animals (prey animals aren’t asked to accommodate their behavior for predators at all). Because in Zootopia there’s a right way to live and a wrong way to live, and some animals are — in the context of this movie — biologically programmed to live wrong. They have to be corrected in order to fit in with proper, civilized society.

http://www.cracked.com/blog/why-talking-animals-are-bad-way-to-talk-about-racism/

 

Zootopia wants to teach kids about prejudice. Is it accidentally sending the wrong message?

————–The most natural line to draw between the two is that Zootopia‘s predators stand in for black men in our world, and one needs only look at the resurfacing of Hillary Clinton’s “superpredators” clip from the ’90s to know why that’s potentially inflammatory territory.

But all of this pales in comparison to the fact that when you scrutinize Zootopia‘s core metaphor for even a second, it struggles to make sense on a literal level. Yes, the film’s message is that Judy learns to trust Nick, even though he’s predator and she’s prey. But on some other level, we all know that an actual rabbit is right to be afraid of an actual fox — and that muddies the movie’s message considerably.

https://www.vox.com/2016/3/7/11173620/zootopia-review-racism

 

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Yes, even Bladerunner manages to fall into this same trap of presenting a persecuted minority as being incredibly physically powerful and smarter than the humans hunting them.

Blade Runner’s source material says more about modern politics than the movie does

It was written for an age of overreaching policing and sociopathic lack of empathy

———-The police in Do Androids Dream…? are merciless, unstoppable android killers. Their victims, in contrast, are remarkably vulnerable and weak. In the film, the replicants have enhanced reflexes, super-strength, and tremendous intelligence. Part of the reason Deckard evokes sympathy is that he’s clearly overmatched. Replicants may not deserve to be murdered, but they are terrifyingly powerful and dangerous. Roy, howling his shirtless way through an abandoned building at the end of the film, is an atavistic, gothic terror. The androids in Blade Runner are dangerous and threatening when provoked — which is how Darren Wilson saw Michael Brown, and the excuse most often given by police who kill unarmed black civilians.

————–https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/5/16428544/blade-runner-philip-k-dick-do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep-analysis-adaptation

 

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*The next  3 articles are essays on how the new Bladerunner movie tackles the narratives of racism, assimilation, inclusion, and persecution. Or  how they actually don’t.

‘Blade Runner 2049’: The Deckard Question Matters More Than You Think

Whether Harison Ford’s character is a replicant has far-reaching implications for the film series — and for what it says about our own society.

———-http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/blade-runner-2049-why-it-matters-deckard-is-a-replicant-1046963

 

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Race and Blade Runner 2049

The only black people in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner are extras. The replicants are all white, and the city of Los Angeles is basically an unmixed population of whites and Asians. The Asians live on the streets or work in small shops. Whites rule the LAPD (all that’s left of the city’s government) and biotech corporations. Whites are also the slaves manufactured by Tyrell Corporation. There are no black, Mexican, or Asian replicants. And the leader of the rebel replicants is a very Aryan Roy Batty. Replicants, however, are, according to Rick Deckard’s voiceover, called “skin jobs,” which is equivalent to calling black people “niggers.” So, Blade Runner is about a slave revolt. And what do the slaves want? Freedom? No. They want more life, which, to be fair, is another kind of freedom. As the 20th century British philosopher Alfred Whitehead put it: “Life is a bid for freedom.”

http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/10/06/25457531/race-and-blade-runner-2049

 

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This Future Looks Familiar: WatchingBlade Runner in 2017

————-I watched Blade Runner for the first time this week. Since I have apparently been living in a cave for the past few decades, I thought that Blade Runner was kind of like Tron but with more Harrison Ford, and less neon, and maybe a few more tricky questions about What Is The Nature Of Man.

That is the movie I was expecting.

That is not the movie I saw.

 

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*It is far easier for White audiences to watch allegories about racism, than it is for them to actually tackle the subject head-on in their daily lives. Just as it seems easier for White filmmakers to propose the idea that persecution of minorities is wrong, while engaging in erasure and whitewashing in their films on the subject.

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*There has been some discussion on Tumblr of The Empathy Gap, to explain the woobification of White villains in fandom, vs the vilification of Black and Brown villains, and even characters of color that are the stars and protagonists in the narrative. Want to know more, then read on:

Why White People Don’t Like Black Movies

Why White People Don’t Like Black Movies

http://www.indiewire.com/2014/01/why-white-people-dont-like-black-movies-162548

 

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*This is a perfect example of what we mean by implicit bias in filmmaking. I know the director of this movie, James Mangold, is not some die-hard ,card carrying, member of the alt-right, or KKK. Nevertheless a critical look at his films reveals his own blindspot when it comes to the subject of race.  Because the directors are White males, living in America, they have a tendency to reproduce narratives of race that have always prevailed in films, without much examination. I’m sure it never occurred to Mangold that it would be difficult for PoC to watch a movie in which am entire Black family is brutally murdered by vigilante members of the state. It certainly did not occur to him how such images would impact our watching of the film, given the status of American race relations today. (The same blindspot is evident in the Netflix show, Daredevil, and Mangold’s last Wolverine film, which was set in Japan.)

The Thoughtless Diversity of Logan

————–   Let’s linger on that last point for a second. In Logan, an entire black family gets slaughtered onscreen. This is a black family who we already see terrorized by racist hicks for refusing to move off their farmland. We are shown that they are at the mercy of these white folks to maintain basic amenities like running water. We also see that they are often terrorized by these men WITH GUNS on what seems to be a daily basis.

——https://fishnetcinema.com/2017/03/07/the-thoughtless-diversity-in-logan/

 

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*I liked this rather tongue-in-cheek essay on why Black people don’t attract ghosts or hauntings.

White Fright; Or, Why Are There No Black People in Haunted House Movies?


http://www.blackhorrormovies.com/white-fright-no-black-people-haunted-house-movies/

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*And another tongue in cheek piece on the expectations that Black people should  die in Horror movies, because that’s the tradition, and how hard it can be getting used to watching them survive these movies sometimes.

The Black Die Young: The Internal Struggle of a Black Horror Movie Fan

——–I have a secret passion; the less addicted of you might call it an addiction. I like to watch. I rent base, filthy movies and slip them into brown paper bags so no one can tell. I sit alone in seedy, near-empty theaters, pleasuring myself with this trash. I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone about my weakness, although my wife has caught me watching a time or two (“It’s a documentary!” is my standard excuse; she’s since cancelled the Discovery Channel.). But now I’m ready to step out of the shadows and proclaim loudly, I am a black man… and I love horror movies.

http://www.blackhorrormovies.com/black-die-young/

 

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*Yeah, we’re looking at you Star Wars! 

Every Galaxy Needs More Than Three People of Color

———When people of color do appear in science fiction, it’s often as sidekicks or advisers. Black characters are likely to die quickly and are unlikely to ever interact with any other black characters, since many galaxies seem to contain only about three black people. That lack of representation makes it hard for people of color to imagine that their writing will ever find a home in the genre.

https://www.wired.com/2016/02/geeks-guide-diversity-destroy-scifi/

 

 

*I was going to finish up my review of Bladerunner 2049 with a critique of the films technical and philosophical aspects, but I think I’ll post a list of other critical apporaches to the movie, and post my viewpoint as a followup. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thangs I Been Looking At (Mini – Reviews)

Ghost Wars

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I’m  impressed with this show, ,not just for its good production, but because it’s actually scary. I don’t normally pay much attention to literary ghost stories, but movies and TV shows seem to work for me a bit, although I still prefer monster movies, where normalcy has been upheaved by something that’s blatantly malicious, and then order is restored after the creature is defeated. Ghost stories are too open ended for me to really get into them, and sometimes they’re just not very scary to me.

The ghost stories that actually scared me were The Sixth Sense, Ju-On, and, The Ring. In my mind, everything made since those movies have been nothing but ripoffs of the originals. But I actually like this show. There’s just enough uncanny shit happening to keep me off balance. I like the characters and their issues. The acting is better than I expected (because Vincent D’onofrio is present as a town preacher.) and there’s also just enough social subtext to make it compelling.

 

 

Roman Mercer is the town outcast because he can see ghosts, especially the ghosts of regular townspeople, so he has a reputation. In the pilot, he was attempting to leave town, but there was some type of explosive paranormal event that prevented that, and killed the bus full of people he’d been on. (His best friend is a young lady who is also a ghost, and she warned him about the bus crash in advance.)

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So now this remote Alaskan town is being overrun by ghosts, who are definitely malevolent. What event awakened them all, and what the ghosts want, is still a delicious mystery, that I’m here for. The ghosts can possess people, cause nasty hallucinations, like when the town preacher, while giving a wake in the town bar, sees blood pouring from his drinking glass, and they cause people to believe the town bridge  is still intact, when its been destroyed. The only thing that saves everyone is that Roman can see through the hallucination, and prevent people from trying to drive across.

There have also been some interesting character changes as the townsfolk who didn’t believe in Roman’s abilities, now have no choice but to believe, as they are being attacked by ghosts, and those who did believe in Roman’s powers, and hated him for it, have since realized his usefulness, and stopped bullying him.

 

Kim Coates and Meatloaf also star in the show. I’ve liked Coates ever since I first saw him in Waterworld, although he’s been around since the late 80s. In the show he plays either a lovable rogue, who is responsible for his little brother’s death, or the town ne’er do well. I wasn’t sure of Meatloaf’s acting abilities until I saw him in Fight Club, although I’d also seen him in other projects. He plays one of the town bullies.

I think I’m going to stick with this show for a while. The Syfy Channel is slowly starting to build back its reputation for interesting shows, and I’m glad. The Expanse, Dark Matters, Killjoys, Z Nation, Superstition, Ghost Wars. By focusing on character, paying close attention to diversity, (lots of women in these shows, lots of PoC, and most importantly lots of different WoC), and coupling these things with interesting  concepts, Syfy is slowly getting back its street cred as a network that geeks are not ashamed to admit to watching.

 

Superstition

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I really like the idea of this Black family that fights supernatural creatures in this small town, and I have tremendous respect for Van Peebles for breaking new ground, just by adding racial diversity to genre shows. He’s done Westerns (Posse), and werewolves, (Full Eclipse), and now he’s taking a crack at the Supernatural/Buffy style show, involving family dynamics with monster killing.  I don’t know how long this show is going to last because I haven’t seen many people talking about it anywhere, but I hope it at least finishes out one season.

The problem I have is with the execution of the ideas on the show. The acting could be better, (its a little dodgy) and the plot needs to be beefier. I feel like it should’ve lead with the demons/monster plot, and then worked in the soap opera aspects, once we got to really know the characters. I  think the plot leans a little too heavy on the drama, and we just met all these characters, so we have no incentive to care about their emotional issues.

The Hastings are basically a bunch of badasses who use deadly weapons and magic to battle the forces of evil. The eldest son was estranged from the family, but has come back home, and been welcomed back into the family business of monster killing, so we learn about what’s going on just as he does, as he needs to be taught the ropes.

Sadly, not much was known about this show before it aired and the only place I saw any promos was on the Syfy network itself. The network does not appear to be as invested in this show as it seems to be in other shows, like The Expanse, and Z Nation, and that’s why I don’t think this show is going to last very long. But I’m here for it while it airs.

 

Stranger Things Season Two

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I get why people like this show. There’s a definite nostalgia factor, and those kids are cute as all heck, but My feeling about the show was kinda meh. its not a bad show, and it has excellent production values, but I just wasn’t deeply invested. I wasn’t carried away, I guess.

Maybe part of the reason I didn’t find this especially compelling is because I didn’t watch the entire first season. I saw bits and pieces of it. Enough to get a general idea of what was happening, but not all the tiny details, like names. I liked all the little 80s callbacks, and I liked quite a few of the characters. Wynona Ryder plays Michael’s Mom, and she was her usual excellent self. Sean Astin plays her love interest, and he is a goofily cheerful character that I sort of liked. The most interesting two characters were Lucas, and his seeming love interest, a ginger haired skater- girl ,who just moved into town. Lucas’ friendship with her causes a minor riff between the four friends.

Eleven escapes from her overprotective adoptive father, but after the two of them have a falling out,  she finds herself having adventures in the city, where she falls in with a group of thieves led by another girl with tattoos, and the ability to cause illusions. She eventually leaves them when she receives a premonition that Mike is in danger. Eleven’s activities are the most interesting part of the show.

Michael, the boy who befriended Eleven in the first season keeps having visions of a massive creature that has infested (infected) the entire town. He develops a connection to it, and eventually becomes possessed by the creature. When the rest of his family and friends realize what’s happening they spring into action to prevent the creature’s release, into the town, from the local  medical facility, but its already too late, as one of Michael’s friends has befriended a small  frog-like creature that turns out to be a juvenile form of the monster.

I didn’t dislike the show, and I bingewatched all ten episodes, but I wasn’t wildly enthused either. I can recommend it if you don’t have anything more pressing to watch, or if you just really love 80s nostalgia. Really, the most compelling thing in the entire show was the monster, and I want to see season three because I’d like to know what’s going to happen to it, and Eleven.

 

Jeepers Creepers 3

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Don’t worry. I didn’t pay money to see this movie. At any rate I couldn’t have even if I wanted to. Sensing that people wouldn’t want to associate too much with the cinematic output of a convicted pedophile, the movie’s creators sought only a limited, one day, release, before sending it directly to video, or rather the Syfy Channel where I saw it the weekend before Halloween.

I did not care for this movie because it’s a confusing mess. It takes place between the first and second films, but that isn’t immediately apparent, as only two of the characters from the first film appear in it, and only one of the characters from the second. Ridiculous things happen in the movie that I couldn’t make sense of, and even though there’s a lot of exposition, (I mean a LOT! People talk and talk and talk.) all the talking didn’t make anything about this movie any clearer.

Most of that talking is is from a brand new character, a cop named Tashtego, who is constantly stressing to the other characters how evil The Creeper is and that he must be killed. There’s lots of shots of he Creeper being his usual weird and nasty self, terrorizing teenagers, eating people, etc. For some reason, someone thought it would be a grand idea to prominently feature the creature’s truck, which is tricked out with various booby traps, which is what the police find out when they try to investigate the dead bodies lying in it, and a pack of obnoxious teenagers find this out too before they’re promptly caught and killed by The Creeper. He still likes to hunt  pretty young men, but occasionally takes time out of his busy schedule to terrify a woman or two.

One ofthe most baffling scenes is the discovery of a disembodied hand of The Creeper that gives people visions when they touch it. This isn’t something that was even hinted at in the first movie, although in every film, there’s the one character who seems to mystically know shit about The Creeper, so as to give more exposition on him. Exposition that illuminates not at all.

Since The Creeper can’t actually be killed, and we saw him in the second movie that was released we pretty much know how this one ends. He doesn’t get caught. At any rate, it matters not one bit, because I don’t believe Salva will be making any more of these. I sense that the makers of this movie just wanted to release it quietly, and get it off their books, and get Salva out of their hair, so I don’t think he’ll be making another Creeper movie any time soon. It’s very possible that he won’t ever be making any more movies again, since no one wants to be associated with him, especially in this new climate of awareness involving past sex scandals.

 

Seoul Station

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I was really excited to get to see this, the moment I heard of it, especially after watching Train to Busan. Seoul Station is an animated pre-quel to the live action Train to Busan, and its every bit as harrowing, nerve wracking, and action packed as the movie, despite the medium. It takes its time getting started but like the live action movie, once it gets going it doesn’t let up, doesn’t let you have a rest, and you get attached to the primary character just as in the other film.

In Seoul Sta. we see the beginning of the zombie infestation, and how it managed to escape notice until it got out of hand. This happens the way it always does by affecting the poor and underclass first. We meet a young woman who just escaped prostitution with  an abusive pimp, but the man she’s currently  living with isn’t much better. He’s having money issues and keeps trying to convince her to sell herself so they can pay the rent. At one point he hits her, and she;s so used to being treated that way she doesn’t even fight back.. (I wasn’t expecting that scene and it kind of threw me for a bit, so here’s my warning in advance. If you have trouble watching such things,s know the movie contains scenes of stalking and domestic abuse.)

We follow this young woman for the rest of the movie, after she breaks up with her current boyfriend. She barely manages to stay one step ahead of the zombie infestation, running from one seemingly safe place to another, only for those places to be overrun by the dead. From a police station, to the subway, to an alley that’s been cordoned off by the police (who think its all some type of insurrection), she has to use all her strength, and wits to stay ahead of the zombies, while wearing nothing more than a little pink dress and bare feet. She’s not an entirely sympathetic character either, as one of her most annoying traits is a complete inability to close doors behind her, thereby exacerbating her zombie issues.

In the meantime she’s also being pursued by her current boyfriend and her former pimp, both of whom have try to make their way through the zombie infested streets of Seoul. I was a little confused at first, because I thought her former pimp was her father, but it turns out he’s just lying to enlist her boyfriend’s aid in finding her.

A funny observation  about this movie (and I don’t know if this is just something that’s done in the movie, or if people in Seoul actually behave this way) are the many people who are  willing to verbally harangue strangers in public. From her landlady screaming at her about her late rent, to when she screams at her boyfriend at a cyber cafe, to random disturbed people on the street, characters are forever running up to others and screaming at them. Needless to say you cannot do that shit in America, where you just run up on somebody and start yelling, especially during a Zombie apocalypse. (You will get your ass beat for that just on a regular Tuesday.) Sometimes they just scream gibberish, but sometimes the rants are very specific. At any rate, some of this behavior serves too illustrate the lives of the rather downtrodden, and in some cases, criminal individuals.

Unlike the live action film, none of the characters are your typical salaried workers, which is a refreshing change from American made films, in which we watch your standard  American family endure some kind of crisis. Some of them are not the least bit nice, or innocent, either. There are homeless people bullying each other, and salaried workers, who treat the homeless characters with disdain and contempt. I don’t know if the creator is trying to make some kind of social argument about life in Seoul, or not, though.

Seoul Station is available right now for free on Amazon Prime, (or for rent). This is an absolutely excellent double bill, with its sequel, but you’re going to have to rest between films, because neither will give you a moment.

The Mummy

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I was not impressed by this movie. In fact, I think I hated it. Tom Cruise looks worn and tired, the plot is rather lackluster, and I was not expecting Russell Crowe to be shamelessly overacting in this movie. Its not a bad film, in the sense that the people who cared about it, tried their best, to make it look good, but the movie is simply uninspired. The first Mummy movie in the last trilogy at least had a feeling of freshness in its lead female character, Evie. Here the only female character we are meant to pay attention to is boring and flat, and the other one is the villain.

Essentially, The Mummy tells the origin story of how a modern man gets chosen by an ancient priestess, Ahmanet, to be the avatar of the Egyptian god, Set. It would’ve been a much more interesting movie, if they had just stuck to the portion dealing with Ahmanet, but you know Hollywood hates WoC, because its unthinkable to them that one of them (namely Sofia Boutella, who is actually Egyptian) would ever be the head of her own franchise. Franchises must be led by your standard white guy named Chris, or Tom in this case. One of these days Miss Boutella will be treated with respect and won’t have to kiss tired looking men, twice her age, to be in a movie.

Tom should  stick with those Mission Impossible, and Jack Reacher movies, which I actually like. He looks as if he’s enjoying himself in those, and I like a Tom Cruise film in which he appears to at least be having some fun. Here, he  looks like he can’t wait for the movie to be over, and seems like he’s just going through the motions until it ends.

I was only mildly excited to see this in the theater, and I’m glad I didn’t waste my money. My advice is to skip this and watch the 1999 version again.

10 More Scary Short Films

Here are ten more very short horror films to watch for Halloween. I had to watch a lot of really boring, and in some cases really bad movies to pick these ten gems. There are a bunch of these all over Youtube, so I just sorted through, picking my favorites. Some of these are genuinely scary, and others… not so much:

Close Before Midnight

I’m still not sure what to think of this one. Is it funny or just terrifying? Is it both?

 

 

The Moonlight Man

The main character is none too bright, but this was actually pretty scary.

 

The Other Lily

This one actually scared the bejeebus out of me because I had no idea where it was headed, and the animation is appropriately frightening.

 

 

The Hambuster

You’re gonna fall on the floor laughing at this one, and then probably throw up. Its disgusting!

 

 

Horror Short Film

This was genuinely scary.

 

 

Who’s Hungry?

This one is cute, disgusting, and funny. I had no idea where it was really going  either. (Warning for children being eaten by a giant.)

 

 

I Heard That Too

I first heard of this in a two line short story which was really creepy. This movie is just as effective.

 

Dead Friends

This one was funny, sweet, and disgusting. Skip it if you don’t want to see accidental animal mutilation.

 

 

Killer Kart

This one is almost as ridiculous as the movie, “Rubber”, and if you haven’t seen that one, it’s hilariously surreal, and you should check it out. This is gory, so I warred between feeling disgusted, and laughing my ass off, two feelings which are not necessarily compatible:

 

Nightfall

I thought I’d end on a funny note. This one just tickled the hell out of me. I totally identified with the little girl in this film.

They Came From Netgalley

 

 

I was really excited to get these from Netgalley, and I’m happy to share my thoughts about them with you guys. I’m usually never able to finish reading these before I get the next book, or the original is released but, I like to take my time and get the full flavor of a book before reviewing it.

 

Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeanette Ng 

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I don’t think I’m going to finish this book. I was initially very excited at the idea of Christian Missionaries from the Victorian era visiting the land of Fairy, as that is such a novel concept, but this book has turned out not to be what I’d hoped. What I thought would be  a kind of expedition to strange lands and peoples,  with grand adventures, heroes and villains, turned out to be a lot slower and more contemplative. This isn’t a bad book, I just don’t think I’m the audience for it.

First,  let me start off by emphasizing, for me, this is a very slow book. There’s almost no action, and little investigation of the Fairylands, even though I’m almost a third of the way through. The main character, a woman searching for her brother who has become lost in Fairyland, has been trapped in the same location since the beginning of the book, a large mansion where her brother resided. She is an acceptably brave and intelligent character, and I like hearing her thoughts as she narrates the story, but she hasn’t gotten a chance to have any real adventure, which I thought this book would be about. The most notable thing she has done is find an important book in the mansion’s  library, meet a couple of  fairy house servants, and hold a church service.

I also feel some type of way about missionaries in general (as in not approving of them) but so far the proselytizing has been kept to a minimum. It’s not  that type of book, for which I am grateful, but I still don’t know if I want to keep reading it.

 
Magicians Impossible by Brad Abraham

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This book is much more promising. I like the action in this book. What I don’t like is the protagonist. The lead character is just boring and so very ordinary. Jason Bishop has a mysterious past, and a father he barely knew, who was said to have committed suicide. When he attends his father’s funeral, he starts an adventure where he discovers that he comes from a line of mages, and that his father was one of the primary players in an ongoing fight between several magical societies.

I don’t dislike this book, (I really like  it!) but Jason is not an exciting  character, and maybe that’s the point.  Maybe there’s some character growth later in the story? I don’t dislike him though. That would require that he have enough personality to dislike. On the other hand, the other characters are really interesting. There’s a female  Punk/Mage I really liked, and the bad guys are suitably nasty, and everyone is after Jason. Jason  has to try to navigate an entirely new and unknown world, manage his own magical gifts, and figure out who are his friends and enemies.

The magic in the books is the typical bombastic hand waving sort, but it’s also abetted by actual card magic,  which I thought was a lot of fun. Despite the presence of Jason, I am looking forward to the next book in the series, as we get past all the introductory stuff of Jason picking up skills, and meeting the other characters. Once we get into the serious world-building, this will be a wonderful series to tide you over, between Harry Dresden novels, which is the greatest compliment I could give to an Urban Fantasy book.

 

The Change Series by Guy Adams

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I remember reading something very similar to this book a few years ago. That opening chapter scared the Beejesus out of me because I had no idea what was happening. I never got a chance to finish that book, and I think this is it.

Something happened. As in Robert McCammon’s short story ‘Something Passed By’, something happened on Earth that was so awful, that most of the people who witnessed it died. The ones who didn’t die were  mentally and physically altered and all the rules of the world changed. No one can get near any of the cities without dying, animal life has been altered, and strange and malevolent creatures prey on the people who are left.

Howard managed to survive the invasion but has amnesia. He doesn’t remember what happened but knows he needs to make it to the city of London. On the way he encounters machinist biker gangs, deadly blackbirds, and a mechanized monster that eats people and incorporates their bodies into its own.

This is a six-part series ranging from London, to Paris, to Tokyo, chronicling the adventures of various characters as they deal with this new and changed world. What makes the books so frightening is that all of the changes are inexplicable and unexpected. We learn about the nightmares of this world at the same time the characters do. The world was a known thing, but now all bets are off, and almost anything at all can happen to them as they try to survive, not just the monsters created in the wake of The Change, but the people who were badly affected by it.

The latest in the series, about the adventures of a young girl in Tokyo, named Noriko, is available  on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Alien Vs. Predator & Demon Knight

Who Saves the World

(We do!)

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Here’s the second set of reviews for 31 Days of Black Women in Horror Movies for the website Graveyard Shift Sisters.

You may not think these two movies have much in common, but you’d be wrong. They have at least two things in common, Black female heroes, and Black female heroes who live to the end of the movie.

 

http://www.blackhorrormovies.com/scary-sistas-a-brief-history-of-black-women-in-horror-films/

 

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If you’re not aware of the old movie trope, “The Black Guy Dies First”, then you don’t know how groundbreaking it is for a movie to not only have a Black hero, but for that Black hero to live all the way to the end of the movie ,while saving the world. This was famously spoofed by the Black slayer named Rona, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with her snide remark to Buffy, “The Black girl gets it…”

Thanks to Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, horror movies have always tried to have progressive representation. This certainly isn’t true of all such movies, but Horror and Scifi movies are at least willing to break with the tradition of a White male hero and cast women, and PoC, as the stars of the movies. From The Afflicted with its Asian male lead, to Halloween’s Jamie Lee Curtis, and Sigourney Weaver in Alien,  from Danny Glover in Predator II, and Wesley Snipes in Blade, many of these movies have become iconic films by overturning the tradition of having a White guy be the hero.

Predator, the franchise ,was itself willing to break with tradition, after casting Arnold Schwarzeneggar as the hero of the first movie, by casting Danny Glover as the hero of the second. That movie is also unique in casting a Latina, Maria Conchita Alonso, as one of that movie’s good guys, who also gets to live to the end.

 

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Alien Vs Predator is just continuing this habit by casting Sanaa Lathan as Alexa Woods,  the guide for a team of archaeologists, who are exploring the Antarctic for alien artifacts, along with Charles Bishop Weyland, the CEO of Weyland Industries, and the prototype for Bishop, the android from Aliens. Suffice to say,, she is the only  survivor, after the team gets caught in the crossfire between the Aliens, and the Predators who came to Earth to hunt them.

Alexa is as tough as they come. She’s brave and determined, and finally rewarded for her fortitude with the proper facial scars of a successful Predator, by the other Predators, who have been watching the events from on-high. I haven’t watched this movie in a few years. I have to admit, I failed to appreciate its novelty when it was released. It’s only on later viewings that I realized the film’s uniqueness. It, and the fearless Alexa Woods, have since become a favorite. (I find it especially interesting that most of the reviews of this movie seem to ignore her presence in it, although fans of the movie seem to really like her, and Danny Glover.)

This movie is also notable because Alexa is also a scientist, an environmental technician. As depictions of Black women in science are really hard to come by at the movies, its important to take note, its the Blerdgirl who saves the world.

http://www.btchflcks.com/2016/07/when-will-black-women-play-leading-scientists-more-often.html#.WfDwM1tSxD4

 

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Irene goes out like a Boss!

Demon Knight is notable not just for Jada Pinkett as Jeryline, the hero of the movie, but for also starring CCH Pounder as Irene, her bullying work release employer, who is every bit as badass as she thinks she is. I did not fail to appreciate the release of this movie. Mom and I were already Jada Pinkett fans after her work in A Lowdown Dirty Shame and we were looking forward to seeing her work it in our favorite genre, Horror. We were not disappointed. Jeryline is smart as fuck, and fearless too. From the moment you meet her character, she is sympathetic, and you start to root for her to survive this movie, because you just know, somebody’s gonna die!

William Sadler (another favorite of mine) plays Frank Brayker, as a Knight of the Cross, attempting to keep a Holy artifact out of the hands of Billy Zane’s Collector, to keep the world safe from demons. The artifact is meant to hold the blood of Christ, but over the centuries, the Keepers of the “The Key” began to fill it with their own blood. The blood in The Key is sanctified  to create protective barriers, or to kill demons directly, and when the last of the blood is used, the Keeper, who is immortal as long as he/she carries it,  dies.

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When Brayker finally sacrifices his life, he passes The Key to Jeryline. The person who carries The Key must be a thief,  in homage to the first carrier of The Key, a thief who stole Christ’s blood at God’s command. Jeryline fits the bill because it was the reason for her prison conviction. In the end, Jeryline defeats The Collector, in a novel way that would never have occurred to Frank, and sets herself on the road, followed by a new Collector, a Black man carrying a suspicious looking guitar case. (My mom and I applauded.)

I was disappointed to learn there would be no sequel to this movie. I would’ve loved to have  seen this take place in Georgia or Louisiana, with an all Black cast.

Hollywood is still somewhat stuck in the rut of pandering to the White male demographic, but that is slowly beginning to change, especially after the success of Get Out, and the forthcoming release of Proud Mary in January, and Black Panther during Black History Month, next year. Hollywood could use Indie and genre films as an example of how to craft movies that appeal to other than White men.

TALES FROM THE CRYPT PRESENTS: DEMON KNIGHT, Jada Pinkett, 1995. (c) MCA/Universal Pictures
Jeryline – Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight 
In this cult classic, Jerlyline is the definition of survivor. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind nor kick a serious amount of ass, both of which she did!

 

 

http://wickedhorror.com/top-horror-lists/7-fierce-black-women-in-horror/

Yes, Black women want to have onscreen adventures. We like to see representations of us in movies, and TV shows, being heroes, being brave, and fearless, and saving the world, just like White women, (and I’ll wager that Asian women, and Latinas want to see this too.) There have been so many demographics Hollywood has been ignoring for decades. Horror movies, by their nature, seem willing to be different, to overturn tropes, and even mock its own stereotypes.

These aren’t the only Horror movies featuring Women of Color, they just happen to be two of my favorites. Its about time for me to watch them again.

*     *     *   *   *     *       *      *    *       *

https://blackgirlnerds.com/black-women-and-feminism-in-horror-films/

In all these films, these women used their brains, brawn, and instincts to survive amidst a mostly white, male cast. They weren’t treated as servants or sex slaves except for that cringe worthy scene in 28 Days Later.

All three women fought just as hard or harder than their white, male counterparts; proving that they could and did survive regardless of their gender or race.

Weekend Link Roundup

Here’s some interesting reading from around the web, for the weekend. Some of the articles are older, but no less relevant:

 

Asian Erasure

*From Firefly and Star Wars, and from Bladerunner to The Matrix. What do these movies have in common? They’re all about the future, and they all have a certain Asian aesthetic. Unfortunately they also have no Asians in them. Hollywood loves seeing an Asian future, as long as there are no actual Asian people in that future. The Chinese population is some 1.3 billion people.  People classifying themselves as White make up only 11% of the world’s population and are set to be even less than that in the future as their population continues to decline, yet, there’s no evidence of that in any of the most popular movies about the future.

https://boingboing.net/2017/10/11/cyberpunks-asian-representat.html

https://moviepilot.com/p/what-is-cyberpunks-obsession-asian-imagery/4379249

https://www.avclub.com/read-this-why-does-cyberpunk-keep-making-asian-cities-1819366143

http://www.slashfilm.com/blade-runner-2049-asian-culture/

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/mb7yqx/cyberpunk-cities-fetishize-asian-culture-but-have-no-asians-blade-runner

 

Hollywood’s “Little” Problem

Image result for corey feldman

https://www.thedailybeast.com/hollywoods-other-open-secret-besides-harvey-weinstein-preying-on-young-boys?via=newsletter&source=Entertainment

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/corey-feldman-elijah-wood-hollywood-897403

https://www.thedailybeast.com/elijah-wood-calls-out-hollywoods-pedophile-problem

 

Toxic Masculinity in Pop Culture

Image result for toxic masculinity

http://www.vulture.com/2017/04/nice-guys-in-movies-arent-nice-anymore.html

https://www.themarysue.com/toxic-masculinity-in-jessica-jones-kilgrave-as-a-nice-guy-and-will-simpson-as-misogynistic-hero/

https://www.themarysue.com/wolverine-toxic-masculinity/

https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/how-fargo-captures-sad-realities-toxic-masculinity

http://www.ebony.com/news-views/toxic-masculinity#axzz4w4vfOIGI

https://www.thecut.com/2017/10/this-isnt-toxic-masculinity-its-sociopathic-baby-men.html

 

Neo Yokio Review

 

  1. Lord help the poor souls for whom Neo Yokio is their first introduction to anime — and let that same Lord (whatever benevolent nerd deity presides over these sorts of things) bless the brave souls who watched this inane attempt at entertainment knowing that so much greater anime exists in the world.

    Neo Yokio, a Netflix original series created by Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig and starring the vocal talents of Jaden Smith, Jude Law, Susan Sarandon, Jason Schwartzman, and Steve Buscemi, among many others, takes place in a futuristic New York City that’s underwater south of 14th Street. In this version of New York, which is randomly and inexplicably peppered with elements of Japanese culture, one’s social standing — showcased on the all-knowing “Bachelor Board” in Times Square — is of the utmost importance, and those with old money look down upon the “magistocrats,” demon-slaying members of the elite who have worked their way up, through exorcisms and social engagements, into the class of nouveau riche (aka “Neo Riche” ::queue eyeroll::).

    Our hero (a term I’ll use with the same degree of irony that Neo Yokio overuses to no end) is Kaz Kaan, a young magistocrat who spends his time exorcising some demons but even more time complaining about his social status, shopping, and bemoaning his relationship status to his friends and mecha British butler, Charles. And what’s the plot, you may ask — a fitting question, but one for which Neo Yokio has no answer. The show literally follows Kaz as he mopes around, goes on errands, and tries to figure out how to become the most eligible bachelor in Neo Yokio. If there’s a reason why we should care about Kaz’s problems, it’s unclear. After all, with its fixation on brand names, fashion, and the superficial minutiae of Kaz’s upper-class life, Neo Yokio presents itself solely as a satire of classism and commercialism in our culture, right? Maybe.

    That’s just the problem — it’s unclear. For all its posturing about class, Neo Yokio never actually commits itself to saying anything about it. We see the characters bask in their privilege and throw around their money carelessly but the only instance of real contrast is when we see how Kaz treats Charles and the few characters he briefly encounters in the service industry (including the sales clerk at Bergdorf’s, whom he only refers to as “sales clerk”) with utter disregard. The characters — and the show in general — exist in a kind of vacuum, making it impossible to determine whether the show is taking itself seriously or not at all — and if it’s satirizing a group of people or an idea, who or what exactly that is. None of the characters are written with any depth and none of them reveal the show’s true aim. Sure, fashion blogger Helena St. Tessero awakens to the superficiality of Neo Yokio and initially seems like she’ll be the lens through which we may see the satirized world (think the smart, incisive gaze of Daria, who reveals the stupidity of those around her), but she too is exaggerated to the point of no return (read: is turned into a terrorist-recluse), leaving us with equally fatuous celebrations and dismissals of this upper-class life.

     

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Image result for black people

Writing With Color

 

*Here’s some basic writing advice, for writing just about any marginalized group, (and eve nsome very common, not so marginalized groups) so you don’t come off looking like a racist twat! Now this is not to say you can do none of these things. Some of them can be done without offense, if you have a damn good reason for doing it. Some of the others…not so much.

 

Common Micro-aggressions: African Americans and/or
Black People

Anonymous said: What are some common micro-aggressions that a black american will regularly have to deal with?

Behold this masterpost of common micro-aggressions towards African Americans and/or people in the African Diaspora, several of which may be applicable to other PoC. Micro-aggressions can be perpetuated by White people as well as fellow Black people and People of Color.

This is just to give a thorough understanding of some of the things a Black person (often in America) deals with. Don’t run forward and jam-pack your Black character with every one of these experiences, though I can say I’ve personally experienced every one of these or know someone who has.

General Micro-aggressions

  • People excusing blackface.
  • Having our grammar and annunciation corrected.
  • “I don’t see you as a Black person/ I don’t see colour.”
  • Calling Black people ghetto, thugs, rachet, sassy, urban…
  • People debating why they should be allowed to say the n-word.
  • Then saying the n-word anyway.
  • Whispering, spitting, or stumbling over the word “Black” as if it’s a curse.
  • Refusing to pronounce your name right, or just calling you by a different name that’s easier.
  • Alternatively, “jokingly” calling you a “ghetto” name.
  • Constantly mixing up unrelated and not even resembling Black people, because you know.. ‘Black people all look the same’.
  • Dismissing our experiences as “just overreacting,” defending the wronging party, or using our plight to talk about one’s own experience (e.g. “well as a gay man i’ve got it rough…”).
  • Telling racist jokes and calling you sensitive when you don’t find it funny.
  • “______  is the new civil rights movement!” Black folks are still fighting for their rights so…

Media

  • Fox news (xD)
  • Caricatured depictions of Black people on TV.
  • Casting calls for Black people only tailored for “race roles.”
  • Media treating white criminals and killers better than Black victims (see these headlines).

Stereotypes

  • Assuming you only listen to rap/hip-hop/r&b.
  • Assuming you love chicken, Kool-aid, and/or smoke weed.
  • Assuming you’re good at sports.
  • Assuming there’s no father in the picture in Black families.
  • Assuming all Black people (see: young girls) have children.
  • Calling Black people who don’t conform to one’s image of Blackness, “less black,” acting white or “oreo.”

AAVE

  • Non-Black People mimicking/imitating AAVE.
  • People falling into AAVE when talking to Black People.
  • “Why don’t Black people speak real English instead of ‘ebonics’?”

Insults/doubting intelligence:

  • You’re so articulate!”
  • You take advanced classes?!”
  • “How did she get into that [prestigious school and/or program]?”
  • “They only got x because they’re Black/Affirmative action.”
  • Assuming a Black person (usually male) attends college because of a sports scholarship.
  • Counselors discouraging Black students to take prestigious coursework, assuming it’s too difficult for them.

 Respectability politics:

  • “You’re a credit to your race.”
  • “I’m glad you’re not like those other Black people. You’re not ghetto or listen to that rap stuff..”
  • Tone policing: dismissing someone’s reaction/argument/etc. because they are too “emotional.” Thinking that we need to be calm in order to be taken seriously.
  • Pitting African immigrants against African Americans, especially those coming to America for education, aka “Good Blacks.”

Beauty Standards and Dating

Fetishization/Othering

  • People asking you what you are or where you’re really from.
  • Referring to Black people or our features as “exotic.”
  • Referring to Black people’s skin as chocolate or other foods.

Black Women/Misogynoir

  • Saying Black women are ”strong, independent and don’t need no man.“
  • Calling Black women ”sassy“ or angry if she shows passion/emotion.
  • Referring to white and non-black women as “girls” and “women” while calling Black women “Females.”
  • [White] males who apply courtesy to white women (holding doors, giving up seat) but don’t apply the same to Black women.
  • Referring to Black women on government assistance as “welfare queens” (While ignoring that white people get more government assistance than Black people in the USA).
  • “Black women All woman are beautiful.” (StopThatPlease.)

Hair.

  • People touching/petting your hair without consent.
  • “So is that your real hair? Are those extensions?”
  • Calling natural black hair unprofessional.
  • White people appropriating Black hair styles (dreads, twists, etc) and being praised as edgy, while it’s “ghetto, unprofessional, and unclean” on our own heads.

Poverty Assumptions:

  • “Do you live in the ghetto?”
  • “Can you afford that?”
  • “Here are the value prices of this product…”

Racial Profiling + Criminalization:

  • Crossing the street to avoid passing Black men/people.
  • Following in stores, assuming Black people are stealing.
  • Moving aside when we pass, clutching purse, locking doors.
  • Asking Black people for I.D. when paying with card (while white people are not asked).
  • Being pulled over + arrested at astonishingly higher rates than white people.

For a fuller understanding of micro aggressions and the effects it has on individuals overtime, please see this: “These incidents may appear small…”

~Mods: Colette and Alice

Image result for stereotypes

Stereotyping Tropes List (TVTropes)

A masterpost of the Stereotyping Tropes from TVtropes.org. This list is identical to the one linked above, save the addition of Indigenous peoples, which was added. Check for the titles with links, as it leads to more pages of tropes. 
For an assortment of other related tropes, some not mentioned here, see “Race Tropes” as well as “Prejudice Tropes.” Advice on handling characters that lean towards harmful portrayals can be found in the tropes & stereotypes tags at writingwithcolor.


General

Africans

African Americans/Black

Americans

Arabs

Asians

Australians

Brits

Canadians

Chinese

Dutch

Eastern Europeans

Europeans

French

Germans

Indians

Indigenous

Irish

Israel

Italians

Japanese

Jewish

Latin Americans

Nordic Countries

Russians

Scots

Spaniards

 

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Related image

*Okay, I had to put this up. This is, hands down, the funniest story I read on the internet all week, and this is next to The 15 Blackest Things About The New Black Panther Trailer , that I posted earlier.

Now while you’re reading this, continue to picture giant koi bloop blooping in a pond. They have no idea they’re the partial cause of all the chaos. They just wanna get fed.

I’m like,”Guys, ain’t nobody thinkin’ about y’all right now!”

The Great Flamingo Uprising

(Edited after additional information was obtained from zookeeping cousin)

I told this story to a few guildies a while back and decided to archive it in a longer format; so here is the story of The Great Flamingo Uprising of 2010 as told to me by my favorite cousin who was a keeper at the time.

In addition to the aviary/jungle exhibit, our zoo has several species of birds that pretty much have the run of the place.  They started with a small flock of flamingos and some free-range peacocks that I’m almost certain came from my old piano teacher’s farm.  She preferred them to chickens.  At some point in time they also acquired a pair of white swans (“hellbirds”) and some ornamental asian duckies to decorate the pond next to the picnic area.  Pigeons, crows, assorted ducks and a large number of opportunistic Canada geese moved in on their own.

Now; the ponds that dot the zoo property (I don’t remember how many there are but the one by the picnic area is the only one with swans) were also full of ginormous koi fish, some of whom by now are at least three feet long.  Sensing an opportunity to cash in on the koi, the zoo put up little vending machines all over the place that dispense handfuls of food pellets.  I swear to god the fish can hear the crank turning, and will show up at the nearest railing, blooping expectantly at whoever happens to be standing there and doing their best to appear starving and desperate.

Like this.^  And they weren’t the only ones who learned to associate the sound with the imminent arrival of food.  The Canada geese knew a good deal when they saw one, and had long since ceased to migrate anyway.  They formed roving gangs of thug-geese and staked out their turf around the vending machines, ready to mug anyone with pocket change.  Picture yourself as a small child squaring off with a bird as big as you are fully prepared to strip search you while standing on your feet and yelling “HWAAAAAKK!!” in your face.  It’s deeply traumatizing to you and incredibly hilarious to your parents.

Anyway.

The flamingos had their spot near the zoo entrance and never seemed to mind the presence of the other birds, as they kept themselves to themselves and didn’t really like the taste of fish pellets.  The problem lay in that their shrimp pond was close to a vending machine.  Ordinarily that wouldn’t have been an issue at all, but eventually the goose population grew large enough that one of the gangs decided to annex it.  Being territorial little shits, they would harass the poor flamingos any time they strayed within ten feet of it.  The flamingos tolerated this for years until one day they snapped collectively.  Here’s a summary of the incident in chronological order.

1.) It was a hot day, so everyone in question both human and avian, were cranky by the time the zoo even opened.
2.) A few flamingos (let’s call them The Jets) strayed into the radius of the vending machine and were immediately confronted by the indignant hissing geese (The Sharks)
3.) Possibly due to heat and the simple fact that the geese had been giant douchebags for far too long, the flamingos decided fuck it, this time they were going to FIGHT BACK DAMMIT, and swarmed the geese en masse.
4.) Chaos ensued.  The geese were outnumbered 4 to 1 but had the advantage of being able to scream for back-up.
5.) Hearing the shrieking Canada geese and the bellowing of the enraged flamingos, the peacocks came to the conclusion that the apocalypse had come upon them and began to gather in the surrounding trees in droves and wail in despair.  Or cheer them on, whichever.
6.) NOISE
7.) Apparently one of the siege tactics employed by geese is to shit explosively all over everything.
8.) The geese, having secured reinforcements from all over the zoo, went berserk and proceeded to attack EVERYBODY who had come to watch be they human or otherwise.
9.) The flamingos were chasing/being chased by the geese through the crowd accompanied by cheers/wails from the peacocks in the box seats.
10.) Complete pandemonium when the zoo tram became stalled by the flamingo pond due to battling birds.  The Jets, sensing these were somehow reinforcements on the side of the Sharks, charged the tram.  Adults were doing the duck and cover.  Small children were screaming, adding to the noise.  People were slipping on goose shit and hitting the ground in the fetal position, only to be stampeded by the rampaging flamingos.
11.) The koi continued to bloop hopefully for food.
12.) Two of the geese were cornered by a rival gang of their own and were chased into the swan pond.  Cue slow-motion.
13.) The swans detected an enemy presence in their territory and by god, SOMEBODY was going to PAY.
14.) The staff were having no luck in breaking up the fight and on the verge of giving up and just building another zoo elsewhere when the hellbirds stormed the battlefield, trumpeting battle-cries, to dispense feathered justice.  The staff promptly dropped their brooms and fled.
15.) Birds scattered in all directions.  Up, down, sideways.  Some people not present in the park circle swear a couple of geese flat out teleported into the petting zoo. A few ducks vanished in the chaos, presumably eaten by the swans.
16.) Two of the zookeepers barricaded themselves in the snack bar and refused to come out.
17.) The uprising was squashed in less than two minutes.  Number of casualties was unknown, feathers were flying everywhere and there was enough goose shit to build another bird.  One staff member had been knocked to the ground and was left with a melon sized bruise courtesy of one of the hellbirds.  Several children were traumatized, probably for life.  The zoo eventually removed the vending machine by the flamingos.

The geese went back to being giant douchebags. Because geese*.

Addendum:  Somehow, my aunt D got hold of this story and posted a link along with the comment: “This sounds exactly like our zoo!”
Zookeeping cousin replied: “This was exactly our zoo.”

*I’m really not kidding.  This is a photo, taken at our zoo, of a gorilla being chased by one of the thug geese.

 

*Yeah, the hellbirds came in and broke that whole shit up in two minutes!

@@

*I’m in agreement with this, really. It would make for some very intersting names:

I think we should make Puritan naming customs cool again, but like, updated to reflect Millenial values. So we can have names like Resistance Jones, Self-Care Williams, and I-Am-Not-Throwing-Away-My-Shot Anderson.

  • I-Will-Face-God-and-Walk-Backwards-Into-Hell Watson
  • Hydrate Mather
  • Healthcare-Is-A-Right-Not-A-Privilege Bradford
  • Body Positivity Watts
  • WTF-the-Fuck Preston
  • Cinnamon Roll Milton
  • Y’all-Need-Jesus Henderson
  • Snape-Was-Not-a-Hero Whitaker
  • Battery Life Wiggins
  • Reblog-If-You-Agree Bolton
  • @Horse_ebooks Humphrey
  • Renewable Moore
  • I-Came-Out-to-Have-a-Good-Time-and-I’m-Honestly-Feeling-So-Attacked-Right-Now Rutherford
  • Representation Hopkins
  • Organic Hurst
  • Money Cat Wallington
  • Fuck-It Wentworth
  • Impeachment Shepard
  • Don’t-Forget-To-Like-And-Subscribe Simpson
  • Consent Pimple
  • I-Bless-the-Rains-Down-in-Africa Woodford
  • Green Hoyle
  • Social Anxiety Travers
  • Kinkshame-Not Bailey

 

Tomorrow: A rare weekend posting. I finished the first part of my Bladerunner review.

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