13 Great Comic Books For Halloween

I stopped reading superhero comic books, a little while back, and went back to my roots. When I first starting reading grownup books, I started by reading Horror novels by Stephen King,  and comics like Eerie, and Creepy. I never completely got away from them over the years, but when I gave up superheroes (because of the paucity of storylines, and the hot mess of continuities that is Marvel and DC), I  started reading the work of individual writers, and following different artists I like, which led me back to reading horror comics again.

Here are some great comic books to read for Halloween. I’ve read all of these except the Honorable Mentions.

 

30 Days of Night by Steve Niles

30 Days of Night has since become an entire series of books, with crossovers with other horror comics, and a movie starring Josh Hartnett. The graphic novel is so much better than the movie, and the movie is pretty damn good. The atmospheric art of Ben Templesmith is a huge factor in how scary the first book is. I became a huge fan of Steve Niles after reading this.

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Arkham Asylum: A Serious  House on Serious Earth  by Grant Morrison

This is one of my all-time favorite Batman books. If you ever wanted to know what being inside Arkham Asylum must be like, this should give you a pretty good idea why the criminals keep trying to escape. But this isn’t your typical Batman chases down some insanity through Gotham. No, Batman has to journey into the heart of the asylum, where he not only confronts his greatest opponents, but the inner workings of his own psyche. Naturally, it’s the Joker who asks the most important  question: Why isn’t he in there with them?

The artist is actually Dave McKean, but I think you can see a pattern forming, in that I like either cutsie, or painterly, styles of art.

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The Nocturnals (The Gunwitch) by Dan Brereton

I was intrigued by the  illustrations for this series long before I’d ever heard it was a comic book.That first image was of The Gunwitch, and I loved that name so much, that I went on an all out search for more of it, and came across The Nocturnals. Essentially, this is a Halloween superhero team, with the various members having superpowers based on being supernatural creatures. The Gunwitch is the former bodyguard of the young lady holding the stuffy, with the pumpkin purse, named Evening Horror.  The art is funky and colorful and, despite the presence of sexy women, this is safe  for juveniles.

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Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites by Evan Dorkin

This is similar to The Nocturnals in theme. I discovered this comic in an anthology series about Halloween, about a group of neighborhood dogs, (and one cat), who fight the various monsters that keep invading their territories. My favorite part is the relationship between the various pooches, who are all brave and  good doggos. It’s not all sweetness and light though, because the stakes are very real, and sometimes the dogs get killed. It’s safe enough for pre-teens because there is very little gore, but not okay for small kids.

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http://deadshirt.net/2014/03/11/hellhounds-and-scaredy-cats-why-beasts-of-burden-is-the-best-horror-comic-youre-not-reading/

 

Constantine Hellbalzer: All His Engines by Mike Carey

I would definitely consider myself a Constantine fan, as I’ve read most of the graphic novels. Not all, but most, and I do have some favorite storylines. This is a particular favorite of mine, because apparently all you have to do is throw in an old Aztec god, and I’m in. The art is exceptionally well done, very detailed, and disgusting, and very, very effective. In this one, Constantine manages to find his way  to Los Angeles, investigating why his best friend’s grandchild has fallen into a coma, only to find its a trap meant just for him, in a war between an ancient god, and a demon wannabe.

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Spiral/Uzumaki by Junji Ito

This is one of those comics that has no gore, but nevertheless, haunts you long after you’ve finished the story. A curse causes the people in a small Japanese town to become obsessed with spirals to the point where they begin physically  transforming into spirals. If you like geographical horror, like the movie Annihilation, this is a great spooky story for Halloween.

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Enormous by Tim Daniel

The earth has been taken over by gigantic monsters. In the first story, Ellen Grace tries to get some orphaned children to a safe place, after the death of her mother, and the destruction of most of Arizona.

You know how much I love monsters, and the art for this series is truly spectacular, with full color paintings. It also has a female lead, ala Ellen Ripley. This is a pretty graphic and harrowing adventure story about not just physically surviving, but surviving emotionally. This is a comic you read in small sips.

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Wormwood: Gentlemen Corpse by Ben Templesmith

I mentioned this series some time ago. I love horror-comedy mashups, and this is Ben Templesmith knocking it out of the park, with the hilarious, and terrifying stories of Wormwood, a tiny little worm inhabiting a rotting corpse, which  has not stopped him from living up to his responsibilities of  drinking, cussing, and saving the world from the interdimensional, Cthulhu-like horrors, waiting to destroy the Earth.

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The Goon Series by Eric Powell

For those of you who like monsters, but don’t like being scared, here’s some  humorous horror from Eric Powell. Think Ash vs. The Evil Dead, (and everything else), including mad scientists, zombies, Cthulhu, and femme fatales, set in the forties. The Goon usually wins by punching things, and when that doesn’t work, his loudmouthed partner will offer to shoot it. Don’t let the artistic style fool you. These books are nice and gory, but that’s okay, because they’re also deeply, deeply silly.

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Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing

I knew about the original backstory of the Swamp Thing because I read the comics when I was a little  kid, but when Alan Moore began his run in the 80s, he turned all of that on its head, and created one of the best story arcs for any character in the DC universe. Moore was aided in this endeavor by the  artists Bernie Wrightson, Steve Veitch, John Totleben, and Steve Bissette. (Please read the 1984 story “The Anatomy Lesson” if you want to be emotionally devastated.)

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Shaolin Cowboy by Geof Darrow

I was first introduced to the art of Geof Darrow in the book HardBoiled. A book with almost no dialogue, but plenty, and Imean plenty, of art. His work is so incredibly detailed, it’s ridiculous.  I went on to read Big Guy and Rusty (Who remembers that cartoon, but me?), and this crazed adventure here, Shaolin Cowboy, about the supernatural adventures of a Shaolin monk, in a techno alternate future America. Once again, there’s no dialogue to speak about, but you will spend hours staring intently at the pages trying to parse every detail, and it will be worth it, because Darrow likes to add lots of easter eggs to his work. It’s fun without  that anxiety producing gameshow feeling of  having to search for Waldo.

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Criminal Macabre by Steve Niles

Criminal Macabre is like if Ash from The Evil Dead had been born with the psychic ability to see the supernatural world, and tried unsuccessfully to suppress that power with a ton of booze and drugs. This series is deeply funny, mostly due to Cal McDonald’s ability to wisecrack, in even the most dire situations. This man takes so many drugs, it’s a wonder he’s able to stand up straight most of the time, often walking into fights drunk, high, or both, yet still somehow managing to prevail. And for those of you who consider comic books a little  too juvenile for your taste, there is a nice, fat, prose anthology of Cal’s adventures called Criminal Macabre: The Complete Cal McDonald Stories. The prose version isn’t as funny as the comics but the plots are just as ridiculous.

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Hellboy and B.P.R.D Series by Mike Mignola

I’m a long time Hellboy fan. Some of the love is at least partly due to the artistic style of Mike Mignola. If your only knowledge of Hellboy is through the two Guillermo Del Toro movies, then I urge you to check out the comic books, graphic, and prose novels, which are deeper than the films, and if possible, even more dark and moody. The biggest difference between the style of the movies and the books is tone. There’s not as much color or  humor in the books. If you’re looking for fun and funny, this ain’t necessarily it.

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https://nerdist.com/hellboy-rise-blood-queen-comics-history/

 

 

Honorable Mentions or What I’m About to Start Reading Soon

Aliens Salvation by Dave Gibbons

I actually haven’t read a whole lot of books in the Alien franchise. It doesn’t mean I don’t like the series. It mostly means I’m  too chickenshit to consume a steady diet of them.

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Beautiful Darkness by Fabian Vehlmann

This story about tiny mutated people living in and around the rotting body of a little girl abandoned in the woods, sounds suitably horrific and yes, very, very strange.

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Gyo by Junji Ito

I’m told that the actual title of this book is called Death Stench and has something to do with people dying horribly from intestinal gas. This should resonate with anyone like me who is lactose intolerant and has ever made the mistake of drinking dairy products.

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Hillbilly by Eric Powell

Since I love the midwestern horror stories of Manly Wade Wellman, I’m pretty sure I’m going to like this other series by Eric Powell, about a Hillbilly guardian who fights monsters, in the hills of Appalachia, accompanied by his friend, a giant bear.

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Neonomicon by Alan Moore

I heard that this book was deeply frightening, about two government detectives stumbling across a supernatural mystery. It’s written by Alan Moore, so I trust that assessment.

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Safari Honeymoon by Jesse Jacobs

Another monster book, about a couple who decide to spend their honeymoon hunting bizarre natural monsters. It sounds really cute, and I hope it’s not too scary for me.

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These Shows Look Exciting

For some of these TV shows, I already posted trailers, but recently new trailers were introduced at the New York Comic Con, which got me enthused all over again. Now these are surefire shows and returns that I will definitely be watching when they air, usually because I enjoyed the first season, or read the book, or because I just like the premise and actors.

Wolf Creek Season 2 – Dec. 15th/?

Some of these shows, I don’t have concrete dates for, and for some of them I don’t even have a network, nevertheless, I will be scrolling through my TV guide to find them at the appointed times.

I remember doing a mini review of this when it first aired. The series was unexpectedly good. I say unexpected because I hated the movie on which this was based. Wolf Creek is based on the story of a real life serial killer who roamed the Australian Outback, several years ago, and I had trouble watching the film because it was more like torture porn than a legitimate movie, and seemed to be glorifying the killer, and I seriously didn’t like that. I also hate films where the soundtrack consists entirely of women screaming. I was sort of expecting that with this series, but what I got was a tension-filled thriller, where the  usual “Final Girl” plays a long cat and mouse game with the man who destroyed her family.

This time around I didn’t see any of that in the trailer, and there seems no continuation of the fallout from the first story, as far as I can tell. I think this is an entirely new cast, although once again, there’s a little bit too much glorification of the killer for my comfort. I’m not a fan of portraying real life serial killers as funny and entertaining, but I will tolerate that, if the show is really, really compelling.

We’ll see.

Good Omens – 2019/ Amazon/BBC

I’m a big David Tennant fan, so I will probably be here to watch this. No, I didn’t read the original story and have no great urge to do so. Sometimes I like to watch a source based show, solely on its own merits, and I want to do that with this one. I like the premise, and it looks hilarious, which I’m told is also true of the book its based on.

The Passage – 2019/Fox

I mentioned being excited about this earlier this year. Now this series, I did read the book but not because I knew it would become a TV show. I read it because it has some truly scary vampires in it, and I really liked the writing. The trailer heavily reminds me of Carey’s The Girl With All The Gifts, and I can’t help but think this may have been influenced by it, (although it wasn’t.)

The one problem I had with the first book in the trilogy by Justin Cronin was about halfway through the first book the story really slowed down, especially after those great first 200 pages. I seriously considered simply dropping the book, but I persevered, and I’m glad I did, because it picked up again for the last 50 pages or so, and the last part has some relevance to the next book in the series, called The Twelve.

The makers of the show have said they plan to stick pretty close to the first book as much as possible, including that 100 year jump that happens just after the events in the first 100 or so pages. Now I’m curious as to how they’re gonna pull that off without losing their audience. I almost didn’t finish the book for that reason.

Titans – DCEU Streaming/Today

I have no plans to subscribe to this network. I’m not buying one more damn app to watch shows on. I spend enough money now on cable. Nevertheless, I’m still excited about this show, not so much because of Anna Diop, but because I’m a big fan of Beastboy, mostly from watching Teen Titans Go, with my niece. (I’m probably one of five people, in the US, who doesn’t give a single  gotdamn that Starfire is being played by a Black woman. I think she looks gorgeous! I still hate her outfit.)

Star Trek Discovery Season 2 – Jan. 17th/ CBS All Access

The more of this I see, the more excited I am for the new season. I hope to get more insight into the Bridge crew, and I actually like Pike with his cocky ass. It’s still kind of bittersweet when you consider his life trajectory, though. It’s fitting there would be some Spock in this season, as Spock eventually comes to serve with Pike on the Enterprise, before Kirk became Captain. I really like Michael, and I love how she was so much of the focus of the first season, as is fitting, but I’d also like to see a little less focus on just her, and a little more of a focus on her interaction with the rest of the crew, and what their lives are like together.

And I have to watch it for the promised reunion between Culber and Stamets.

Siren – Jan. 2019/Freeform

I mostly enjoyed the first season which was kind of uneven as far as pacing and character. It seems like this season the show is going to focus on Indigenous shapeshifters, not just the mermaids, which I think is very exciting, and it appears the show will  continue to  slam it out of the park on the diversity angle, by adding more Indigenous people to the cast.

Daredevil Season 3 – Oct. 19th/Netflix

I’m almost excited for this new season because the trailer looks great. I was okay with the last season. I give it a C, as it could’ve been better, and mostly I just seemed to see all its faults. Well, it had a lot of faults. But I really like Vincent D’Onofrio though, so I’m looking forward to seeing the Kingpin again, only because Vincent is so damned good at playing him. The fight scenes look really good, and I’ve heard the other characters on the show get some major screen-time, separate from Matt’s shenanigans as Daredevil. Frankly, Foggy deserves it.

American Gods Season 2 – 2019/Starz

Do I even need to talk about how excited I am for the second season of this show. I do have a few misgivings though because the prolific Bryan Fuller is no longer in charge of this season. I think Nei Gaiman has taken over the writing or something, which is good, but Neil is not Bryan and I don’t know how or if he will approach the racial issues of the story the ay Bryan did. I’m always wary of White writers when it comes to the subject of race, unless they have proven track record of care and improvement. I like Neil, and have read many of his books, but I don’t know how he planes to approach the show.

Nevertheless, I’ll remain optimistic based on this trailer, which looks pretty good. I’d watch the show even if I hated the trailer, because I’m looking forward to meeting all the other Gods, like Mama-Ji. There’s also an Indigenous character, a young woman, that was added from the book, and another Asian woman called New Media, since Gillian Anderson left the show. New Media represents the god of social media and the internet, and is strongly aligned with Technical Boy. Hopefully we’ll get to see more of the Native gods of America, even though they were briefly mentioned and seen in the first season, although I have to say that such beings don’t show up til the end of the book, not that I think we should wait to see them.

What I’ve Been Watching: Mini-Reviews Of Dr. Who And Others

TV

Dr Who

I’m hooked! I know I’ve stated that I do not consider myself a Whovian because I’m not as steeped in the history of the show as some other more knowledgeable people might be, but I’ve always liked the show, and watched specific episodes when I was a kid in the 70s. I remember the Daleks from back then, and I know most of the villains on the series, and am familiar with a lot of the Doctors and their companions. I’m not steeped in minute details, but I know enough to navigate my way around a season.

In season 9 I started watching the show in earnest, because of the presence of Peter Capaldi, of whom I’m a big fan. I really loved him as the Doctor and I loved his new companion Bill Potts, and I was sorry to see them both gone.

I didnt actually know what to think of Jodi as the new Doctor at first. I was reserving my opinion on the entire issue until I saw some trailers or something, but after I saw the first trailer, I was intrigued, and I’ve seen her interviews about her new role, and her love and enthusiasm really captured me. I really like the actress herself. She so captures that sense of the Doctor. In fact, she reminds me of one of my other favorite Doctors, David Tennant whose career I’ve been following ever since. The first time I saw Jodi was in Grabbers, playing a drunken cop, and killing aliens, and I liked her in that movie, so when it was announced she’d be the new Doctor, I wasn’t upset, because I kinda knew of her.

Well, I watched the first episode and she is a darling . I really like her and I plan to watch the rest of the season. Now don’t get me wrong, the show isnt perfect, and did some things I found frustrating, but not frustrating enough to stop watching it, or lose interest, and overall, I really enjoyed myself. Some parts of it were a little heavy handed, and it remains to be seen how her companions, three at the moment, two of them PoC, will be treated by the writers. I have it on good authority that there are PoC in the writers room  for the very first time, so I feel optimistic about it.

Her new companions are a Black fellow named Ryan,and  his White stepfather, Graham (which is a dynamic I hope will be elaborated on in the future as their relationship is not an easy one), and a young Asian woman named Yasmin, who is/was a minor detective with the police. I like the relationship between Yasmin and Ryan as they are old grade school chums.

As for the Dr., she is her usual obnoxiously intelligent self, but with that little something extra that only Jodi could have brought to the role and something which all the actors who have played the Dr. were chosen for, their unique take on the character. It doesn’t hurt that she’s as nice to look at as any of the other Doctors like Tennant or Capaldi. I love her usual  know-it-all enthusiasm, which can get a bit grating after more than a little bit of it, but that’s okay, because the doctor usually prevails, and that’s also part of the reason I like this show so much.

So I guess this actually does make me a fan, huh?

Supernatural

I’m cautiously excited, and yet dreading, the rest of the season, because I care  so much about all  these characters, and know they’re in for a hard road, and some of them ain’t gonna make it out alive. Well, I’m in it til the end, so there. I’ll give a more detailed review at my other website and link it to this one. But I  really liked the premiere, and I’m going to give it a pretty high rating, and hope the rest of the season continues at that same level.

Charmed

I’ve been trying to drum up some enthusiasm for this show, but it’s been hard. I’m not a fan of the original show. In fact, I pretty much hated it, and that might have something to do with this retread. I don’t dislike this show. It’s only been one episode but I have a couple of objections.

I was really hoping, since the characters are meant to be Latina, that there would be some introduction of Brujeria magic into the show. Instead what we got was more of the European stuff, with Latin, and sparkly lights. It would have been a great idea to introduce Hispanic/Latinx cultural traditions into the show, and I would have liked to have seen that. I’m also against remaking old shows with Brown characters. Just give us a new show with a new name, maybe even the same characters, but an original show.

Now the show isn’t actually bad. One of the minor concepts in the premiere was the issue of sexual assault on campus. There’s a background story about one of the Professors being exonerated of sexual assault charges, who later turns out to be a demon who feeds on women’s strength. I thought that was neat little dovetail connecting the two issues, although occasionally heavy handed.

My biggest issue was the acting and the actresses. I’ve never seen two of them in anything, so I don’t know them, but they need a little work on their skills. And the youngest sister is one of those annoying narcissistic teenagers who doesn’t want to be special because it will ruin her chances to pledge with a sorority. The middle sister is a Lesbian with anger issues. Normally I’d have a problem with that but the writers try to be subtle about it,and it’s implied that the anger is a result of her coping with her mothers death, so this gets a pass. She’s the most intriguing character becasue I don’t know her as much about her, whereas with the younger sister, you feel like you know all you need to know about her.

I did like Mantocks older sister though because I understood her, and she’s just a better actress than the other two. Remember Mantock from Into the Badlands, so she’s got a great deal of experience p,and I liked her on that show. She shows up at the house after the girls mother dies and she’s lonely, and looking for a family. At first the two sisters reject her, and I kinda felt for her on that, but eventually they accept her, and try to bond with her. Mantocks acting is top notch. She almost brought me to tears a coupe of times. She’s also a scientist, which is something that plays out in an interesting way in the show. I liked that the writers combined some of her scientific knowledge with the magic,and it’s also really rare to see Brown women in STEM, so I’m all for it.

I feel like the writers need to spend time fleshing out their characters more, which they will of the show lasts beyond season one. The baby girl seems like she’s the comedy relief, and she can hear peoples thoughts. The middle girl seems to be the hearts and feelings one. She can stop time. The oldest played by Mantock is the brainy, logical one. I forget what her unique gift is though, so now I need to watch it for that.

Well, I don’t hate it, but I don’t dislike it either, and sometimes it takes time for me to determine if I liked something. I’m leaning in the direction of I Cautiously Like It. I’m not in love with it, but there’s the possibility of love, maybe.

Black Lightning

This is another show I’m invested in. I enjoy these characters, and want the best for them and like the dynamics between them. I’m a little tired of Tobias Whale as a villain and hope the season moves on from him, but I get why he’s present. There were a number of unexpected plot turns in the season premiere, so I’m looking forward to how the season turns out. I continue to be impressed by Anissa and even Jennifer. Yes, she’s still a  bratty teen who doesn’t want superpowers, but circumstances will force her to face her issues, whether she likes it or not, so I’m interested in what happens to her.

I didn’t see Siren’s (Tobias henchwoman’s) death coming. She was less likable than Tobias, so I’m not too broken up about her being killed by a sharpened stiletto through the throat. Incidentally, Anissa’s fight scenes are definitely the shit. I love to watch her put her thing down. She’s less conservative than her father. She’s a lot more of a maverick, and it shows in her fighting style, and I like that. When told that she can’t do something, she manages to find a workaround.

Jennifer is losing control of her powers, but that statement implies she was in control of them in the first place. She mostly tried to deny having them. At one point she has to be rescued by her father, when she can’t turn off her abilities. When she’s manifesting, he’s the only one who can make physical contact with her without dying, and from the looks of it, it’s still pretty painful for him. I mentioned to my Mom that in the comic books, she’s basically a sentient  bolt of lightning (or at least that’s how she’s drawn, and that her sleep/ floating is an indication of her flight powers manifesting.)

Lynn is her usual beautiful self. My mom and I had an interesting discussion about Lynn’s statement that Jennifer needed therapy. My mom thinks that’s a crock. What’s a therapist gonna do? But she feels that way about a lot of therapists. Some things she thinks talking about doesnt help at all, but I think Jennifer has been going through some major traumatic events outside of having superpowers, and needs to talk to someone who’s not her dad or sister.

Jefferson outed himself, and Anissa, to the Police commissioner. I didn’t see that coming, and I wonder what that means for their future endeavors as vigilantes. Is it gonna be like a Gotham city Batman type thing, where he quietly calls on Black Lightning to help him out from time to time, or will it be  a Dark Knight thing, where he has to pretend to want to catch him?

The show started off with a young Black man being killed by the police for having superpowers. This event is tied into the Black Lives Matter movement very neatly by a preacher on the show who says that the police are using the presence of superpowers to terrorize and kill young Black men. Now that’s how you do a racism allegory, by tying the fantasy aspect into the actual real life oppression of a marginalized group, and showing how that would affect that group. I talked about how I’m not a fan of racist allegories that don’t include any members of the group that the allegory was appropriated from. Here, it’s been done correctly, in a way I stated I would like to see in a sci fi fantasy show. And since it involves superpowers, this is done in such a way that I don’t too caught up in my feelings about police brutality. There’s a bit of an intellectual remove. If children from marginalized communities were suddenly developing superpowers, how would that affect how they’re treated by the dominant culture, and  their community. How would they react? It seems like the show will be addressing some of this. I hope they elaborate on it a bit more.

I loved the music for the show, too. I think Anissa’s fight scenes get some of the best music and its usually a reflection of her youth and general attitude. Jefferson’s music tends to be a bit more old school R&B, with some Jazz thrown in.

So, yeah, I’m definitely invested. Hopefully, the show will continue at this same high level for the rest of the season.

The Walking Dead

I’m watching it. Things seem okay. It certainly seems less depressing than previous seasons. I understand that this is Rick’s last season on the show, so I’m curious as to what is gonna happen to him and Michonne, and if the show can survive without him. I think it can. The show has built up the other characters enough that it would still be an emotionally compelling show without him.

I’m not a huge fan of intrigue and political gaming shows, though. It’s one of the major aspects that I dislike about Game of Thrones because I’m not interested in watching people fight with each other over who gets to be in charge, and I don’t want to see Game of Thrones during the Apocalypse, which is what this seems to be becoming, as Maggie and the others scheme to …well, I’m not sure what they’re scheming, but it feels bad though. I like these characters, and don’t want to watch them fight each other for power, although I’m always here for watching Michonne beaning somebody over the head when they start acting a fool.

I’m curious about the outcome of this season, but I’m kinda burnt out on the show, as a result I’m less enthused about it then I have been in the past. I’m pretty sure some of that lack of enthusiasm was caused by the death of Glenn, who I really, really miss. The show hasn’t felt right since his death. Without him, the past two seasons have just felt pointless, and depressing, in a way it didn’t when he was on the show. I’m not entirely done with the show, but I’m not making the huge emotional investment that I did in the past.

Also, part of the reason I’m reluctant to become as emotionally involved in the show is that I’m too damn tired to do it. Things are so batshit right now in this country, that I’ve quite used up all my emotions, and don’t have any to spare for a TV show like this. If it were a more intellectual series, than maybe I could, but this show is not Westworld, a show which requires less emotional investment, only a mostly intellectual one. This is actually a pretty draining show, which is part of the reason why I stopped reviewing it.

Well, I can always keep abreast of the show through the Talking Dead show which airs right after. I’m not a fan of the host of the show, since he tries too hard to be funny, but the guests discuss their characters and the plot in depth, and I can get an idea of what’s going on without having to sit through an entire episode.

Mr. Mercedes

This series is based on the trilogy by Stephen King, which I really enjoyed. The first season was based on the first book, about a serial killer, named Brady who plays cat and mouse games with the retired cop, Hodges, who assigned himself to capture him. He’s accompanied by a young black kid, named Jerome, his love interest/neighbor Donna, and a young woman on the autism spectrum named Holly. (Hint: I’m a huge fan of Holly.) The first season, and the book, ended with Brady in a coma, being kept in a special hospital.

The new season skips over the second book, which doesn’t have a whole lot to do with Brady, and skips to the third book in the series, called End of Watch, and chronicles Brady’s mental superpowers that result from his doctors experiments with drugs, and Brady using those powers to target the people who put him in his condition.

Since I didn’t finish the first season of the show, I missed out on the fact that there are a lot of PoC in this show. Sure Hodges is the center of it but not completely. The other characters get major screen time and are shown to have lives and family outside of Hodges. Especially Jerome, whose father is going through some financial issues, while his little sister seems to be going through some emotional ones. I already like Jerome, but his family members didn’t make a good impression on me because the plot requires them to be assholes to Jerome, and I didn’t care for that.

I’m going to stick around for a bit and see if what happens on the show lines up with what happens in the book, which I think was the best book in the trilogy.

Mr. Inbetween

I’m not a huge fan of shows which sympathize and humanize incredibly violent men but this show is intriguing because it does some unexpected things with the characters and I liked the mood of it. The show is out of Australia and that may have something to do with the approach which, while kind of light at times, is not played for comedy. The humor arises out of the dialogue and decisions characters make on the show. The violence is not played for laughs.

The lead character is named Ray, a hitman, and an ex-con, who gets into various misadventures while trying to juggle his relationships with his loved ones, and attend anger management classes. The most poignant relationship is with his young daughter, who is really cute, and so far as I’ve seen, does not exist to be put in danger, and his relationship with a young woman he just met. The show is unremarkable beyond the acting and dialogue. The plot consist of Ray getting into and solving crazy situations while being harangued by whatever criminal employers he’s with that week, while sorta keeping things secret from his family. The Typical “hitman as lovable rogue” type plots really.

White Men: The Pandering (Pt. Two)

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Most Americans know the rest of the world only through the media they consume, and unfortunately, most of them are content to leave it at that level,  never bothering  to question what we know of the world, how we know it, or who gave us the information, and why they gave it to us. (The corollary to this is the rest of the world learns about America through the media we create.)

The media, especially popular mainstream culture, shapes our American worldview, and that worldview springs from the minds of largely one group of people, so it’s very interesting when White male critics (and let’s be frank here, these critics are primarily White, straight, male, and we must not forget it when talking  about this issue), when they talk about how the media is “pandering” to the SJW’s. At the same time these same men say things like “This is our media, and those people are invading it.” There’s a reason why they think Pop culture belongs exclusively to them, and that statement  is  both a declaration of ownership, and a subsequent lack of control over what they claim to be theirs.

If there are two essential truths in today’s media and popular culture, it’s these: One, virtually the entirety of mass popular culture is geared towards pandering to the wants, needs, interests, and desires of male nerds. And two, those male nerds often fail to believe that they’ve been pandered to quite enough.

 

I can’t cover everything, so this is going to be a broad 101 of the topic. There are going to be some subjects I avoid as being too lengthy, and deserve posts of their own. Some topics I’m going to  avoid talking about in depth, because I’m not a member of the community in question. There were so many resources I wanted to add, so many videos, so many links, but I simply couldn’t cover everything. I used the terms White characters, White men, and White people, interchangeably, but they are not all the same thing.  For the purposes of this essay (which I have edited the hell out of, and I’m too tired to go back through it and change all the terms) we’ll use them interchangeably here. (And yes, I am including White women in those terms, since they have often aided and abetted cis-heteropatriarchy in movies, books ,and TV.)

White Men Control The Stories

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Let’s talk about what pandering is, how it gets done, and what it looks like in Pop culture. I’m primarily going to talk about the three biggest forms of media:  Music, Movies and TV and Gaming.

One of the reasons we tend to think of White men the way we do, is because our point of view has been aided and abetted by the vast amount of entertainment we’ve consumed, that privilege the White, straight, middle class, cis-gender, male viewpoint of themselves, and the rest of the world. Narratives that are created, controlled, and distributed by White men.

 

White men are  prioritized and normalized in the stories we read, watch, listen to,  and play. This is so ubiquitous that most people never notice it, until other stories start being told. Their presentation,  desires, wants, opinions (of themselves, and others, and their needs, are often placed front and center in many of the stories we’ve consumed, while those of women, gays, PoC, and other marginalized groups are de-centered, or placed in the stories to make them feel good and look heroic. Issues like erasure and whitewashing serve the same purpose, and while those may  have recently become household words, some of the prioritization of White men  are much more subtle, and often go unrecognized.

For example, movies may appear to present an issue, but that issue gets sidelined to focus on how the White characters think about the issue, rather than how that issue affects the people involved in it. In the movie Three Billboards over Ebbing Missouri, the movie presents issues of police brutality. But…there are only three Black characters in the entire movie, and we don’t get any idea how they feel about what the police have been doing to them. Instead, the focus  is on them sympathizing with the White male cops who have committed  the brutality. Not only is the audience encouraged to see the humanity of these corrupt  police officers, but the Black characters (written by two White men) show sympathy and empathy for them too, unwilling to be angry, or hold the police to account for what was done to them. Police brutality of Black people is presented as background scenery for the story of a White woman’s feud with a group of White men.

 

Normalization, Exceptionalism and  Universalism

In books, movies, and television shows, White men’s activities, no matter what they are,  are presented as a normal outgrowth of being a man, and is something that can, and should, be applied to all men. The understanding is that the White male view of the world is shared by all men. The activities in which they engage, and their reaction to events, is something shared by everyone. Paradoxically, White men want to be shown to be rugged individualists, who are exceptional, and don’t share any mundane qualities with other men.

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We see the “normal” nature of whiteness in film and television too, in which most main characters are white, and in the case where a show or film prominently features actors of color, it is considered a “Black” or “Hispanic” cultural product. Film and television that primarily features white people is “normal” film and television that is thought to appeal to the mainstream; those that feature actors of color in lead roles and casts composed predominantly of people of color are considered niche works that exist outside of that mainstream.

 

One of the more subtle ways that White men are depicted on screen is through sympathy and innocence. White men in movies and TV shows are often given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to criminal behavior, or sympathized with when they experience pain.

I mostly want to talk about this as a TV phenomenon, but pick a crime, any crime, and Western media has probably made a movie/TV series/play/etc. with a white person that romanticizes the criminal activity. No matter what, a white person can do whatever terrible crimes and still have a TV/movie fanbase that loves them. When you see black or brown people committing crimes on screen, you are to see them thugs and criminal masterminds and people to be beat down.

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Basically, every trope and stereotype present in film, and television, was invented, created, and reinforced through decades of use, by straight, White, middle class men, and the result is that White men end up looking heroic, commanding, smarter, mentally stable, and more powerful than everyone else. Their mistakes and transgressions are to be  forgiven or excused. Their abnormal circumstances and /or criminal behavior is meant to be sympathized with, and in some cases applauded as heroic. Even their most villainous behavior is meant to be understood, justified, and sometimes even romanticized. Witness the number of TV series and movies that romanticize White serial killers, for example. There are no shows and movies romanticizing the exploits of serial killers who happen to be men of color.

Some of this is obvious, some less so, but the end result is that White men are given a pass for their behavior, no matter how toxic, while  making themselves look sympathetic, in  television shows like Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, and Sons of Anarchy. There are few shows depicting men of color as mobsters and drug dealers in a sympathetic manner. Men of color who engage in criminal activity are painted as thugs, terrorists, and ne’er do wells. White men’s ideas about crime pervade popular media in the form of procedurals, reality shows, and action movies.

Simultaneously, White men  have also gotten to be the only representatives of law and order. Up until thirty or so years ago, men of color were not depicted as cops in TV shows, and rarely depicted as such in movies. There were no Asian cops in American police procedurals until the 90s, few Latinos, and no Muslims.  White men broke the law, but almost always as Anti- Heroes, and Likable Rogues, (unless of course they had accents, or were coded as Queer) who were justified in committing violent acts. They also happened to enforce the laws which made them look like heroes. The majority of the rhetoric one sees in online commentary about the police has been heavily influenced by decades of propaganda showing the police as society’s heroes, keeping, the usually Black and Brown criminals, in check.

The idealized image of the Los Angeles Police Department that the series portrayed, of a thoroughly modern agency dispassionately dispensing justice, is sharply at odds with the historical reality of an imperfect force beset by racism, brutality, and decades of scandals. 

 

 Thus these shows are also the closest we will ever get to putting on a metaphorical cape, defeating the villains, and saving the burning city from collapsing on itself. We are able to live out our criminal and heroic fantasies simultaneously through both the lawless perpetrator and the take-no-shit cop.

 

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Even in movies that are ostensibly about other people’s stories, it is White men who get to be the heroes. In the movie Hidden Figures, a movie about the lives and careers of three  Black women who worked at NASA in the early 60’s, Kevin Costner gets to be heroic when he destroys the segregationist bathroom signage, that he never noticed or paid any attention to, until of course, it was pointed out to him by one of the Black women in his employ. Needless to say, this isn’t something that ever happened in the real world. Costner was  added to the story as someone for  White audience members to identify with, and feel good about themselves for doing so.

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Prioritization

From: ‘Forced Diversity’ in Modern Media

The expression“pushing identity politics/representation” is just the beginnings of addressing racism in problematic cinema

by: Thaddeus Howze

White people are in almost every movie and paint themselves as the heroes of every event, no matter how great or small. The complete invisibility of people of color, even in our own stories has been part of the American experience since mass media began. Even after we began to appear, it was always in subservient roles, either taking care of Whites or subservient to them.

White media paint White characters as indomitable, unstoppable juggernauts overcoming any obstacle. From seaside Viking raids to intergalactic alien invasions, no matter where it happens, the perception is, only White people will be leading the way and will WIN, because of their <insert ability inherent to and uniquely held by White protagonist here.>

This failed perception, this false worldview, is both problematic and reductive. It makes White people seem to be the only problem-solvers in movies and the lack of participation by other groups is because they have nothing to offer. The world view which says Whites are the ultimate expression of knowledge, culture, significance, beauty and creativity is a lie and it has been promoted through mass media since the turn of the last century.

This perspective has become so ingrained, people of color from around the world are bleaching their skins and divesting themselves of their own culture to gain access to the White hegemony and its oppressive racially-intolerant culture. Online bleating by racist fans of <insert media genre here> would have you believe the nature of inserting people of color into any media, no matter how appropriate to the very job of acting is an affront to their whiteness and the integrity of the work.

 

White male consumers are taught in a million subtle, and unsubtle, ways that everyone/everything belongs to them, centers around them, or is meant to serve their happiness. The industries of gaming, movies, TV, publishing, and music have been the fuel of their entitlement, and have pandered to White male fantasies of power, sex, and money, for decades.

Not only are White men the center of their own universe, they are meant to be the center of everyone else’s. They believe this because American media has been telling them that since its inception.

White men believe these things because they have been pandered to by a raft of  stereotypes and tropes,  from Whitewashing, to White Savior, to Mighty Whitey, to Generic Male Leads, which all designed to prioritize them. Their motivations, feelings and identities get to be the center of the stories, and they are the sun around which every other character (often  the marginalized, who are acting as emotional support and sidekicks) revolve.

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White men have been the only characters available, (for everyone who is not them), to identify with in most  fictional narratives, even in stories that are not theirs, such as movies like Mississippi Burning, where the focus of the Civil Rights Movement is on the White FBI agents investigating the  deaths of  the Civil Rights workers, and  how that investigation emotionally affects them.

 

Despite a few outliers here and there, White men in TV continue to mostly tell stories that are only of importance to White men, (which accounts for the sheer numbers of White, male, coming of age stories so prevalent in books, movies, and sitcoms). White men love to tell the mundane stories of their childhood, many of which were unexceptional, but are always lauded by the White critics who identify with them.

“It’s important that Hollywood showrunners and writers recognize that many of the narratives they put out in the world and how they do business is not in the spirit of who they claim to be,” Hunt said. “White men dominate the major positions, and people of color and women have a long way to go to attain any type of equity.”

 

… that problem stems back to the underlying systemic racism in society. The publishing companies are run by White men who have decided what is able to be published, what people are willing to buy and base their latest books on projections that figure Whites are the primary purchasers and thus are the only audience worth catering to.

 

 In a 2015 study, novelist Nicola Griffith (Hild, Ammonite) looked at 15 years worth of data from a few top literary prizes. She found that fiction written by women about women won hardly any prizes, and fiction by women about men fared a little better. Books by men about men were miles ahead.

 

Prioritization doesn’t just happen in the making of media, it can happen within the story itself. Movies that would ostensibly be told from the point of view of the characters that the story is about, often get sidelined, in favor of telling the story from the point of view of  White men who have been added to the narrative. This particular form of prioritization (often called The Generic Male Lead) is a lot easier to spot than others, although it is so ubiquitous that it’s all but invisible to a lot of people. Not only are White men the centers of other people’s stories, their presence in the story seems to be of primary importance to all the other characters.

The Generic White Male Lead

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I already discussed in The Pandering (Part One),  how movies, games, and shows are  written  to star a generic White male lead, because White males, aged 16-35, was the key demographic that was of most interest to Hollywood and advertisers. This particular trope is sometimes  called The Average White Guy, The Everyman, or just The Generic Guy. Most often this trope is little more than a power fantasy for the average White male audience it is aimed at. They can imagine themselves having heroic adventures in space,  the past, the present,  or obtaining the love interest. They’re still an average, mediocre fellow, but they get to be heroic, and have adventures, in the meantime.

White men are who the story is about, with the cultural histories, homelands, and marginalized people used as a  backdrop for their heroic undertakings, character growth, emotional angst, love stories, or family dramas.  Sometimes famous (or infamous) men and women of color are sidelined in their own stories, because the White man’s story takes precedence. For examples see : The Last King of Scotland,  and Birth of the Dragon, in which famous men of color (Idi Amin and Bruce Lee) are sidelined in their own stories, their lives used as backdrops to tell the stories of generic White men feeling some type of way about their circumstances, or falling in love.

The 2015 movie, Stonewall, came under fire from the LGBTQ community for centering a White man in the middle of a story that was supposed to be about the uprising of a group of transgender people of color at the Stonewall Inn in the 60’s. The original “real life” Queer people of color who were present at the event, got sidelined in a story that should have been about them, their lives, and their activities leading up to the rebellion, but they were instead used as  background color to tell the  coming of age story of  a generic fictional White guy.

…a San Francisco-set coming-of-age story involving a rough and tumble young white man who matches the feuding fighting legends in the brawl as he pursues a Romeo and Juliet romance with a young Chinese immigrant [JingJing Qu] under the control of the Chinese mob.

Many of the tropes listed here often overlap, and sometimes all of them can appear in just one movie. Movies where a White Generic Lead is Chosen to be a White Savior to a group of natives being colonized, or killed, by people who look like him, because it is his Burden, as a White man, to civilize those people, while being better at their cultural traditions than they are, and falling in love.

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A perfect example of all these tropes meeting in just one film is The Legend of Tarzan, which was released in 2016, (although all the Tarzan books and movies suffer from this, because it’s  what they are based on). In this modern retelling, Lord Clayton is a scruffy White dude, who is also the Chosen One of the African tribe which has adopted him. He knows how to be a better African than the Africans in the movie, making him a Mighty Whitey, as he talks to the animals, who love and obey him. As a White Savior, he has a responsibility to save his adoptive tribe from some evil Dutch Colonists. Further examples of all these tropes appearing in one movie are: Avatar, Dances with Wolves, John Carter of Mars, A Man Called Horse, and The Last Samurai. All of these movies have the same basic plot.

Mainstream video games are almost exclusively the province of the scruffy White every man. It is well documented that  White male audiences are prioritized when it comes to mainstream gaming. Women, LGBTQ, and PoC are often pushed out of gaming, not just by a lack of representation, but by the heavy sexualization of female characters, the mockery of Queer characters, and the harassment and violence of White male gamers.

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The problem faced by woman and minority-starring video games
is largely the same as the problem facing traditionally underrepresented groups across all forms of representation: their failures are treated as definitive,and their successes are ignored. Dozens of white man-starring video games have underperformed, but their failures are treated as specific to that game.

 

The White Savior and the White Man’s Burden

To this day, some people still latently believe what imperialists such as Rudyard Kipling said, that colonialism was important for everyone: the conqueror and, most importantly, the conquered. That without the colonizers, the colonized had no hope of survival. And by constantly churning out movies with plots in which white people “save” people of color, Hollywood reinforces colonialist dictum.

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In movies, the White Male Savior (and there are also more than a few female characters that fall into this trap, but this is a genre that is written, controlled, and distributed by men, so I’m leaving those movies that star White women in this space) happens often in film and television. When it’s women, they show up as characters like Daenerys in Game of Thrones, Skeeter in The Help, and  Leigh Anne in The Blind Side, with some of the most frequent depictions of the White Savior trope occurring in classrooms, with movies like Dangerous Minds, Conrack, Up the Down Staircase, and Freedom Writers. (No. To Sir With Love  does not fit this trope. That’s a story about a Black man saving a group of disrespectful White students.)

The number of White Male Saviors in movies are fairly  numerous and cross all genres: Movies like Amistad, To Kill a Mockingbird, Radio, Avatar, Dances with Wolves, District 9, The Soloist, Hardball, Gran Torino, The Great Wall, Tarzan, and The Last Samurai.

Sometimes this trope overlaps with the Chosen One, The Mighty Whitey, or The Generic Male Lead. The White Man’s Burden is a reference to the colonialist idea that White men had a responsibility to civilize the rest of humanity who were not as evolved, and neatly dovetailed with the White Savior Trope. The White Savior often functions as an audience identifier, which allows White audiences to believe themselves to be “good” people  because they identify with him or her.)

The white savior is a cinematic trope in which a white character rescues people of color from their plight.[1] Certain critics have observed this narrative in an array of genres of films in American cinema, wherein a white protagonist is portrayed as a messianic figure who often learns something about him or herself in the course of rescuing characters of color.[1][2]

…In the praxis of cinematic narrative, the white savior usually is a man who is out of place within his own society, until he assumes the burden of racial leadership to rescue non-white foreigners and minorities from their plights. As such, white savior stories “are essentially grandiose, exhibitionistic, and narcissistic” fantasies of psychological compensation.[4]

 

The Chosen One

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The trope of the Chosen One isn’t always a White man, (occasionally women and men of color get in on it). It includes everyone from Harry Potter to Anakin  Skywalker. The Chosen One trope is old and tired,  but not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the trope itself is rather neutral. The problem begins when  the special Chosen one is paired with any of the above tropes, which it often is. The Chosen One trope is an Average White guy fantasy that he is secretly exceptional, with some grand destiny. The Fantasy genre relies on this trope far  too often.

 

The Mighty Whitey 

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This falls under the heading of  Exceptionalism, when it is only White men who get to be good at everything,  outdoing the people’s of the native cultures he has adopted (or who have usually kidnapped him.) We already discussed Tarzan, which helped to begin this trope in popular culture (although it existed before that), but The Last Samurai is also a near perfect  distillation of the Mighty Whitey trope. Tom Cruise goes to Japan as a colonizer, but gets kidnapped by a tribe of Samurai. In the space of a few months, however, he manages to befriend the leader of the tribe, Katsumoto, fall in love with the man’s sister, Taka, (despite having killed her husband), and master the use of the samurai sword after only a few months of lessons.

TV Tropes characterizes this trope as a typically noble Caucasian man who, due to often extenuating circumstances, comes to live with native tribesmen. He not only learns the ways of the native people, but surpasses their skill, becoming far better at being a member of the culture than those of the tribe, and naturally their greatest warrior or even their leader. The trope in some cases also involves a romantic story-line between the hero and the Chief’s daughter, who will often continue to love him despite the hero’s sometimes direct involvement with the death of a significant family member.

 

Many in the west clearly still believe we need an identical identifier on screen, if not a white savior than at least a proxy embedded into an exotic group. Someone apparently thought it necessary to have a white male lead in an early draft of Disney’s live-action Mulan remake. And a lot of people are still interested in seeing Tarzan as the superior white hero of Africa, given the global box office success of The Legend of Tarzan. Fortunately, discussions of the “Mighty Whitey” trope problem grow with every example.

 

Whitewashing

Roles that should rightly be played by  fat people,  people with disabilities, transgender,  gay, or people of color, will often be replaced by White men (and sometimes women) in a  story, but the term Whitewashing  itself, often specifically refers to the replacement of PoC with White people. Contrary to popular confusion, Whitewashing and Race Bending are not equivalent. Whitewashing also applies to more than just film and television roles, but across the whole of the entertainment industry.

The portrait is one of pervasive underrepresentation, no matter the media platform, from CEOs to minor characters. “Overall, the landscape of media content is still largely whitewashed,” the study concludes.

 

“It is the height of white privilege to think a white person is better equipped to play an Asian character than an Asian person.”

 

Erasure

This means the  removal of gender, racial, and sexual diversity from Historical, Present, and Futuristic Narratives in movies, television, and gaming, especially when they should be present. The past was not as homogeneous as people like to argue and  I consider the question of homogeneity, at any point in  European history, to be a thoroughly moot point, if one has also added dragons, orcs, elves, wizards, and other fantastical creatures to the landscape.

To remove marginalized people from present and future narratives is to make a deliberate choice to not add them, which says something (none of  it good) about the creators of such stories. Sometimes, the White creators of these stories cannot imagine a future in which PoC, gay people, or people with disabilities contribute to the creation of the culture, or have adventures separate from White people. In many of the movies in which these marginalized groups do appear, the writers cannot imagine a future for them that is any different from their past, or their current level of  oppression. Poc of color are still secondary citizens, who live to serve the needs of the White characters in the story, homophobia still exists, no accommodations have been made for the disabled, and  White men are still the leaders of everything. For  example see : Ready Player One (book and movie), Bladerunner, and any movies about the future that were made before 1979.

The Past

The Present

The Future

 

What all of the historical erasure of non -Whites  has led to, is the popular mainstream belief that different groups of people contributed nothing to the historical record, which is then used as an excuse for excluding them from fantasy narratives, which is  then extended  into the future, or any form of speculative fiction.   The impression that is  given is that  the only worthwhile contributors to all of human culture are White people, specifically White men. This also  aids in the perpetuation of the belief that it was exceptional White men who created civilization.

 

Cultural Appropriation and Orientalism

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The most egregious purveyor of these two tropes are Science Fiction films, and most noticeable in films which feature an entirely Asian cast except for that White Savior, or   Mighty Whitey. It also includes appropriative narratives like The Handmaid’s Tale, which appropriates the oppressive histories of WoC, but  with a cast of White women, and just about any X-Men, comic book, or movie, where the histories of Black Americans, and LGBTQ people  are appropriated to tell the story of those oppressions happening to White straight, cis-gender characters.

Many of these examples are just allegories of oppression. The use of allegory and metaphor is a neutral act, and I don’t actually have a problem with allegories about oppression. I think the problem occurs when these stories are almost always told through the lens of straight, White victims. I discussed why in my reviews of A Handmaid’s Tale, and the series The Gifted.

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/06/28/533818685/cultural-appropriation-is-in-fact-indefensible

Cultural appropriation can feel hard to get a handle on, because boiling it down to a two-sentence dictionary definition does no one any favors. Writer Maisha Z. Johnson offers an excellent starting point by describing it not only as the act of an individual, but an individual working within a “power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.”

The movies most notable for both cultural appropriation (and Orientalism) are the Bladerunner films, in which Asian (specifically Japanese) aesthetics are used as background settings for a story that uses the American version of slavery as an allegory, but which stars no prominent Black or Asian characters.

This doesn’t just happen with different Asian cultures, but with African American, and Gay subcultures, and in music and books. Cultural appropriation is a product of White Western thinking that finds the cultural artifacts of other nations to be nothing more than amusing or pretty trinkets.  There is rarely  any understanding of what’s being appropriated, and this is often coupled with a denigration of the people that produced whatever aesthetic was stolen. Often, it is only the cultural aesthetics that have any value. To the White people who do this, the people who produce what they’ve stolen have no value. There is also  the added side effect of centering White people in the middle of other people’s stories and culture.

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There is some confusion over just what constitutes cultural appropriation, especially when it comes to more shared activities like music, art ,and fashion, but sometimes there are clear cut cases where corporations have stolen design elements from Indigenous, or geographically exclusive cultures, and profited from the theft, without giving credit to the originators of those design. Cultural appropriation has been very well documented for several decades.

An example of an appropriation of a musical style was Disco, which was primarily created by Latinos, WoC, and LGBTQ creators, who were also primarily the audiences for the music. By the time Disco made it into mainstream culture, most of the elements that made it so appealing to those marginalized groups, had been stripped from it by White men seeking to make a profit. The faces of Disco became White, straight, and male in the form of Saturday Night Fever, Abba, and The Bee Gees.

Every musician has influences, that is very true. The issue, however, lies with the lack of proper credit to these influences, and more importantly, that these influences aren’t getting their due monetarily and popularity wise. Moreover, these black influences experience barriers in terms of industry gatekeepers, while the influenced white musician is skipping through an open gate. Lastly, the trend of showing off the negative stereotypes of black culture and disregarding the other parts that are involved, demonstrates a lack of understanding and respect for the music one is taking.

 

The film Saturday Night Fever, a fictional account of a hetero Italian-American disco fan, whitewashed the genre and sold it – very, very successfully – to mainstream America.

  • Appropriation of Indigenous Culture in the Fashion Industry

Appropriation is typically defined as taking an idea or reproducing an artifact for one’s own particular use, altering its original meaning, and doing so without the original producer’s consent. Cultural appropriation is often related to the exploitative and commercial use of traditional and customary elements of long-established cultures. 

Tokenism

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Tokenism is something that can be applied to every marginalized group. Often they are the only member of their group in the narrative and don’t actually get to be their authentic selves, because their words are written by writers who aren’t a member of their group. There’s often only one woman, or one gay character, or that one lonely Black man, who gets killed first. And then there is the burden of representation, where that lone character now has to be all things to all the members of their group, because they are the only one present.

Because characters of color are rare on screen, when they appear, they carry ” the burden of representation,” which means that they are a symbol or representation for an entire community,…”For white people, this is not a problem, because their roles are so varied and so numerous that audiences do not see them as representatives of the white community, but simply the individual characters,…”

Narratives that contain two or more  gay characters, women, or  PoC, are considered niche markets, that are only of appeal to the group in question, and subsequently don’t get marketed to a larger more mainstream audience, which is what happens when members of the dominant group control the means of distribution. (This is very slowly beginning to change with movies created for, by,  and about marginalized audiences seeing mainstream release.)

Why do Black people like White movies? The short answer here is that we don’t have much of a choice.

 

One example of tokenism  are most of the MCU films, although this is a trope that can be spotted anywhere. The MCU film, The Avengers, fell under scrutiny for the  Smurfette Trope, as the only female character to appear in the movie, with a speaking role, was Black Widow. When there is only one token character in the story, the writers don’t have to expend time and energy imagining what such a character could be thinking, and they  certainly don’t have to imagine what two or more of them would talk to each other about.

Another trope I’ve been noticing recently is when there is more than one person from a marginalized group in the narrative, they may actually have names, and  speak to one another, but their relationship is antagonistic. Once again the MCU comes under fire, for this. The movies have been slowly adding more men of color to the franchise. In Captain America Civil War there are two Black men, Rhodes and Sam, but their relationship is antagonistic. There are two White women in the cast, but they have only two lines to each other between them. The rest of the time they don’t interact. The Netflix show, The Defenders, did slightly better by featuring multiple women of different races, but none of  them are friends, and in some cases actively work against each other. The only  two WoC who interact, and are shown being friendly, are  Misty Knight, and Colleen Wing. Even in the series Jessica Jones, only two of the several women in the cast are shown to be actual friends. The rest are all antagonistic to each other, and the lead character.

It’s almost as if the writers cannot conceive  that women (and others) would have any conversations that are not about White men, or what subjects other people could possibly be talking about, when White men are not  present, or even that they might like each other. This is especially easy to point out in the Token PoC Trope, where men and women of color don’t have lives that are separate from the White characters and they don’t seem to have friends or family of their own. Their lives (and deaths) revolve around the White leads.

Even the deaths of such characters are there to serve White men. People of color will sacrifice their lives to save the White characters. Women’s deaths have whatever meaning is assigned to them by the White man they’re  related  to in the story.  In  comic books women are “fridged” to provide an emotional arc for the lead characters, but  there are countless movies based on White men going on killing sprees that have been spurred by the deaths of wives, daughters, lovers… so many that this plot point almost constitutes its own film genre, The Vigilante/Revenge Film.

The Presentation of Everyone Else

 

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In stories that are ostensibly about women, PoC, and Queer characters, White men still get the most speaking lines, get to portray the gay and transgender characters, and even non-White ones. According to White men, the past was all White, the present is almost as White, and the future is every bit as White as today. When it comes to fictionalized universes the  White  straight men who control these narratives,  are hard pressed to imagine any point in time in which they are not a priority.

Since the vast majority of Pop culture media is owned and controlled by White men, White men get to speak for, put words into the mouths of, and then give their opinions on, everyone that is not them. They have created all the labels, the identities, and the narratives of everyone who is not them, instead of allowing those groups to speak for themselves.

 

The Presentation of Gays and Lesbians

As chronicled in The Celluloid Closet, it was White men who got to decide what images of gays and lesbians were acceptable for TV and movies. There were gay men involved in the creation of gay characters on screen, but after the implementation of the censor codes in the fifties, they often had to hide, deflect, or depict gayness in a comedic or villainous way.

Hollywood accounted for the creation of some of the most egregious gay tropes, like the Sassy Gay Sidekick, Kill Your Gays, or the “It’s Just A Phase” lesbian. Hollywood often engages  in the erasure of gay characters, in movies like Alexander, and A Beautiful Mind. In the past, the only way that film studios could get gay characters past the censors was to present them as being laughably harmless, tragic, or associate them with crimes they could be punished for.

The Celluloid Closet is not available at this time for free streaming but it is available on Youtube, iTunes, and Vudu, for a fee. Since I’m not a part of the community in question, I don’t feel I should speak for them, but I can signal boost the voices of those who are.

 

Queercoding Villains

One of the ways Hollywood excuses violence against gay people is to cast them as villains, thereby associating gayness with crime, or evil activities in general. Sometimes though, a character’s homosexuality is only alluded to by gestures, and dialogue.

One of the most difficult things about approaching film and television’s use of queerness is that there will rarely be a single verdict on any given cultural product. With the exception of the most simplistically supportive or bigoted representations, there is room for much discussion and debate in determining a positive or negative LGBTQ presence. Because of this shift, seriously engaging with and thinking about the images we consume has become more important than ever.

Transgender Men and Women

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Transgender characters come under special scrutiny in Hollywood. They are almost always cast as tragic victims of their “lifestyles”, or villains. Needless to say, since none of the imagery we see of transgender men and women are actually created by them, their depictions have always been problematic. Then there is the mainstream obsession with transgender men and women’s genitals, and whether or not they have transitioned, are going to do so, or are doing so right now. This is leaving aside that transgender actors  rarely if ever get to star in their own stories.

 “Media has a history of telling the world a story that transgender people are always victims or villains, instead of true depictions that show the transgender community as citizens worthy of equality and respect. 

In the past, transgender characters have been the butt of jokes, and objects of disgust, with transgender women being the focus of the greatest amount of  attention. That type of transphobia is to be expected when White, Straight, men are intrigued by them, mistakenly believe that them to be men in drag, and are  homophobic, and misogynistic. The hyperfocus on transgender women, as objects of ridicule and disgust,  is called Transmisogyny. There is also the common trope of transgender women as being male deceivers of straight men.

 

Transgender villains are often a common trope in Horror movies, too and serves the dual purpose of showing the creators disdain of the community, and associating transgender men and women with evil, and crime. Often the characters are not transgender at all, they are merely men dressed as women, and the effect is that transgenderism becomes associated with the idea that gay men are trying to deceive straight men, by dressing up as women to fool them.

Some of the most famous depictions of transmisogyny are from the movies Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Silence of the Lambs, Psycho,  and  The Crying Game, in which a member of the IRA goes to London to visit the girlfriend of a man he killed, finds that she is transgender, and reacts with vomiting and panic. In fact, vomiting at the sight of trans women was a common trope in the 90s, usually as a form of comedy.

Obesity

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This is a topic of considerable interest to me. Consider for example, that all of the media stories that feature fat people as  characters,  almost all are entirely written by conventionally thin people. This has real world consequences, and accounts for the worst stereotypes believed about  fat people, especially fat women. They are most often seen as comedy relief to be mocked or laughed at, or undisciplined, unintelligent, ugly and desexualized slobs, whose lives are a dysfunctional mess.

In the movie Death Becomes Her , one of the lead characters is played by Goldie Hawn, a conventionally attractive White woman wearing a fat suit. There’s a scene where her life is shown as having spiraled out of control due to her jealousy of Meryl Streep’s character. She is shown at home,  in her pajamas, messily eating tubs of food with her fingers, in a roomful of cats, while watching TV. Her hair is a mess. She is late on her rent and about to be evicted.This is a  type of shorthand often engaged in by visual media. There is nothing sympathetic about this scene or her character. It is a derogatory image meant to symbolize how pathetic her life is. The screenplay was written by David Koepp and Martin Donovan.

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https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2018/08/10/insatiable-netflix-fat-women-television-chrissy-metz-dietland-nicole-byers/945835002/

This is, inevitably, just new packaging for offensive stereotypes about fat women on TV. The logic goes that the “good” fat women are the ones trying to lose weight or who already have (Monica on “Friends,” for instance), because staying fat means you are lazy and disgusting. As a result, the characters that stay fat have to be the villains or comic relief (see “Mike & Molly” or any number of jokes in shows like “How I Met Your Mother” or even “Jessica Jones”).

Another example is a scene in Jessica Jones, a show about a female superhero, that’s meant to be empowering for women. There’s a throwaway insult made by Jessica about a fat character, seen through a window on the street. Why was this scene added? It has no bearing on the rest of the plot, and that character is never seen again. If it was put there to showcase how much of an asshole Jessica is there are other ways that could’ve been conveyed to the audience that didn’t require throwing fat women under the bus, and since that scene was written by women, has the perhaps, unintended side effect of making the writers seem like assholes. It has also been pointed out, that a show about abuse survivors is telling us, not so subtly, that verbal abuse of fat women is okay. That idea (and its associated stereotypes and myths) has always had real world repercussions for fat men and women. (Yes, the show is written by  White women, but they  have often been complicit in White patriarchy.)

https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/drive-by-fat-shaming/

This is drive-by fat shaming. Just a quick reminder to everyone watching/listening that it’s hilarious and cool to make fun of fat people – even on a show that is supposed to be feminist. 

 

None of the derogatory images we see of fat people are written by people who know what it’s like to live life as a fat person. Women of color are often “mammified” for being fat, while men of any color are most often mocked, even in sympathetic portrayals. It is Popular culture that is responsible for disseminating most of the myths we believe about fat people.

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…the film industry has a long and varied history of producing movies that feature overweight characters. Some movies portray weight sensitively; others make a mockery of the subject; but few politely disregard the subject of weight altogether – perhaps mirroring our collective real-life inability to do so.

 

Poverty

Many of Americans most entrenched  ideas  about being poor have come from politicians demonizing them,, and decades of watching the depiction of poor people, in movies and television, that were written by middle class people (who are themselves steeped in myths about poor people), and who have been conditioned by politicians to think of the poor as lazy, ignorant, and deserving of their fate.

Did you notice that a lot of the stereotypes and myths about fat people, poor people, immigrants, and poc are similar in nature. All that is said about the poor are the same things said about anyone who is not White, thin, middle class, , mentally abled, or male, and meant to paint the picture that the creators of these stereotypes are the norm, and anything that deviates from it is “other”, abnormal, or dysfunctional.

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…with more than 43 million Americans living below the poverty line, the topic is surprisingly rare in Hollywood films. And yet many common misconceptions about what poverty looks like, and how people can overcome it, have been reinforced by movies like Slumdog Millionaire, Precious, The Pursuit of Happyness, and The Fisher King. 

One of the most common stereotypes is that homelessness is exclusive to men, and that all homeless suffer from mental illness. That is who we often picture when discussing the subject. We do not often consider the idea of women and children being homeless, or that homelessness itself would exacerbate any already held mental illness, or sometimes even cause it. When we picture the homeless, we picture them looking a certain type of way. There are homeless people who look indistinguishable from everyone else, some of them  work and many  live in rural areas. Those people are called the Invisible Homeless.

Homeless people in movies and TV shows, are usually played for comedy relief. When they are shown sympathetically, it is usually to serve some well meaning and often middle-class, White  character’s personal  growth. This also falls neatly into the White Savior trope.

While the rural homeless may not be sleeping on city sidewalks or in public places, they are not any less homeless than their urban counterparts. They may be sleeping in their car, a church, an abandoned building, or, most commonly, on the couch of a relative or friend. 

Part of the problem, as it is in most years, is that few movies about poor or homeless Americans were made in the first place. My previous researchfound that between 1902 and 2015, of all the films made in the US, only 299 of them were in some way significantly concerned with issues of poverty and homelessness.

 

 

 

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Disability

Characters with disabilities are almost all written and created by people without them. The characters themselves are often depicted by actors who lack the disability in question, and non-visible disabilities like chronic pain, or mental illness are  rarely depicted on screen, without attaching ideas of laziness or  violence to them. Why do we believe so much of what we believe about the different groups of people to which we don’t belong? We probably got those ideas  (and they were most certainly reinforced) from decades of television and movie viewing.

Not only are people with disabilities stereotyped, the full range of disabilities is not reflected in media portrayals. Lynne Roper of Stirling Media Research Institute, in her article “Disability in Media,” notes that “wheelchairs tend to predominate… since they are an iconic sign of disability. Most actors playing disabled characters are, however, not disabled. The wheelchair allows the character to be obviously disabled, whilst still looking ‘normal’, and does not therefore present any major challenges for audience identification.”

 

The media, however, especially the movies, portray schizophrenia in a different light than the actual disorder. Common misconceptions are that schizophrenics are violent, drink alcohol heavily or use narcotics, behave comically, or suffer from a non-curable disorder. Some believe that schizophrenia is punishment for acting immorally, or that contact with a schizophrenic can lead to mental disorder. Others believe schizophrenia is the result of poor parenting and that schizophrenics behave unpredictably, are loners and isolated from society, or manifest disruptive behavior.

 

On Race and Gender

White, straight, cis-gender, Middle class, non-fat men get to have their say about  everyone else. Narratives about fat people that aren’t written by fat people, stories about men and women living in  poverty, where not one poor person was actually consulted, stories about women’s lives written from a male point of view, along with stories about gay people, Blacks, Asians, Latinx, where the opinions of who they are as a group are given no priority over the White men in the story, or the White men who wrote the script, or directed the movie, or even critiqued it,  is what is meant when we talk about seeing the world  through a White male lens.

We only  get the White male  point of view, and that point of view, reinforced through decades of pandering to White male audiences, is that everyone else is less than.That people who are not like them do not deserve sympathy or the benefit of the doubt. That those people’s lives are unstable because those people are somehow dysfunctional. It is not that White men don’t get depicted in unflattering ways, it is the overwhelming sense that White men deserve sympathy and compassion when they’re lives are out of order, while everyone else deserves mockery, dismissal, or erased. Decades of television, and film consumption have made Americans less tolerant of the differences between them, which is a (sometimes)  unintended side effect of White men being in the dominant position of catering to their key demographic: other Straight, White men.

The White male lens on race and gender in movies and television is well documented. They have   crafted, over the past fifty to sixty years of television, many of the stereotypical images of race and gender seen on our screens. Many of these depictions have been the only ones fans have consumed, since many Americans simply don’t read very much. White supremacy, ignorance, a lack of imagination, and laziness help to perpetuate these depictions throughout mainstream media, and even into fandom. Once again we’re not talking about individual depictions of gender and race, or outliers from the stereotypes. We’re discussing the whole of cinematic and television history.

 

Here, Lindsey Ellis discusses the  “Male Gaze”, and also makes the point that the male gaze isn’t just about how women are depicted on screen. Its also about how White men are depicted. She uses the Transformers movies as an example of gender and race as seen through the male gaze.

 

The Presentation of Men of Color

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Just as media images of White men can make their centeredness and superiority seem normal and inevitable, the stereotypical depictions of other men in media can do the same to them. It  becomes natural to associate Black men with criminality, Middle Eastern men with  terrorism, Latinos with sexual promiscuity, and East Asian men with technology. These racial stereotypes were created by White  creators, and  used as justification for inequality, racism, and White supremacy, and have been helpfully maintained by lazy and incompetent creators ever since.

I keep mentioning the Whiteness of the the creators, because I want you to imagine  an American made film,  which features a Black, Latino, or Asian man’s anguish at, or revenge for, the loss of their wives, daughters, or lovers. or at least imagine such a narrative wherein he is not punished for doing so. Men of color don’t get cast in mainstream shows and  films like that, because the media doesn’t cater to their power, fame, or money fantasies. A man of color can only be an adjunct to  a White man’s goals, whether those goals are avenging a loved one, or getting the girl.

One of the things to keep in mind when reading these stereotypes of men of color is that they are essentially all the same stereotypes, with slight variations. The same racist narratives used against Middle Eastern men has also been said about both  Black and Asian men. All men of color are uncivilized, and barbaric. That they  are both oversexed and desexed are stereotypes lobbed at both Blacks (The Black Brute), Asians (The Horndog),  and Latinos (The Latin Lover), and that they are all obsessed with White women, who need to be saved from their attentions.

One of the ways White men in pop culture seek to maintain hegemony is to desexualize or emasculate certain characters, Whether men or women,  while hypersexualizing others, and presenting these qualities as somehow admirable, when really those qualities are being promoted to make White male characters look good by comparison.

 

Black Men

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Characters of color remain underrepresented in mainstream movies and TV shows, and those actors who land roles are often asked to play stereotypes—from maids and immigrants to thugs and prostitutes. This overview breaks down how blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, Arab Americans and Asian Americans continue to face stereotypes on both the big and small screen.

 

…negative mass media portrayals were strongly linked with lower life expectations among black men. These portrayals, constantly reinforced in print media, on television, the internet, fiction shows, print advertising and video games, shape public views of and attitudes toward men of color. They not only help create barriers to advancement within our society, but also “make these positions seem natural and inevitable”.

 

There’s no shortage of black male actors playing drug dealers, pimps, con-artists and other forms of criminals in television shows and films such as “The Wire” and “Training Day.” The disproportionate amount of African Americans playing criminals in Hollywood fuels the racial stereotype that black men are dangerous and drawn to illicit activities. Often these films and television shows provide little social context for why more black men than others are likely to end up in the criminal justice system.

 

One of the more disturbing tropes I noticed in the MCU, but have since noticed in other media are White characters who are meant to be heroes, punishing and torturing Black and gay men. In Captain America The Winter Soldier, there’s the torture of a Black man for information. In the movie Magnum Force (1973), Harry guns down a fleeing transgender woman. In fact, Clint Eastwood made a career out of vigilante justice in films. In The Defenders, you have a group of White heroes torturing a Black villain for information (of note: they didn’t torture any of the other men of color).  Torture happens frequently in the shows 24, Iron Fist, and The Punisher. Americans have  been conditioned for decades, by movies, TV series, and comic books, to see torture and vigilante justice as a  heroic activity. : a heroic activity that is  engaged in primarily by White men.

American society has been conditioned through vigilante imagery, to the acceptance of the use of torture and violent punishment, and  one of the side effects of this is the idea that Blacks, Gays, Latinos, and even women, get  considered to be  “non-normative”, and deserve to be punished and  killed for their transgressions against White men. This has the effect of associating White men with  law, order, and stability.

Hollywood’s obsession with black torture porn: Why the genre’s not important.

The film industry has mastered this skill to a tee, feeding us skillfully written, romanticized versions of the black American plight and later showering us (i.e. in many cases, white producers and screenwriters) with the highest of film honors and nominations when award season rolls around. But it’s starting to fail.

 

Asian American  Men

Like Black women, Asian men are often shamed for being Asian, don’t get to be shown as being loved, or lovable. They are often emasculated, not seen as sexy, and are still the butt of nasty jokes involving their penis size. Asian men get to be stereotyped as a danger to White women, smart but unnattractive nerds, misogynists, and perpetual foreigners in their own country. They rarely get to star in their own stories. When they do they are often the sidekicks to White characters.

 

 

Middle Eastern Men and Orientalism

As for Middle Eastern Men, they are almost always depicted as villainous barbarians obsessed with sex, and the beauty of White women.  America has a vested monetary interest in subduing the Middle Eastern regions of the world, so the people of that region have become handy scapegoats to blame US problems on. Before these visual tropes existed though, the West engaged in what is known as Orientalism, where the East was exoticized and romanticized for its barbarity.

“Orientalism” is a way of seeing that imagines, emphasizes, exaggerates and distorts differences of Arab peoples and cultures as compared to that of Europe and the U.S. It often involves seeing Arab culture as exotic, backward, uncivilized, and at times dangerous.

 

Growing up, it was quite normal for us to see ourselves on the silver screen in two scenarios – firstly as a terrorist/evil character/backwards thinking individual/collateral damage, or secondly absolutely nowhere at all. It was fine growing up – we were used to it. Hollywood was a place that we were allowed to watch, but not allowed to be a part of. 

 

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When it comes to Hollywood, the White male creators of media there, have a keen interest in showing men of other cultures to be less than them, so as to make themselves look better by comparison. Men of other races have many stereotypes in common. They are often shown to be oversexed,  desexed, hypersexualized, uncivilized, barbaric, villainous , or unintelligent.

 

 

The Presentation of Women

I talked about the sexual exploitation of women in pornography and mentioned the same in mass media in another post.The exploitation of women in mass media is another entire post  by itself, and it too,  is very well documented.

https://documentarylovers.com/film/miss-representation/

Since most popular media is controlled by White men, and the women they are most interested in are White women,  they have crafted dozens of stereotypes and tropes in movies, books and TV shows, that while they can be applied to all women,  were specifically invented to condition  White women to accept White men’s behavior towards them, and show White women those qualities in a woman they consider to be most important. These tropes are so prevalent that they are all but invisible.

One of these tropes is the Born Sexy Yesterday trope, where White women are shown as childlike, fragile, and vulnerable, that you don’t actually have to listen to, because you won’t understand anyway. This trope appears in dozens of movies. It’s basically a form of wish fulfillment. This is what White male creators, and by extension, White male audiences, find appealing.

 

Tropes for White women include : The Final Girl, The Manic Pixie Dream Girl, The Just One of the Guys Girl, The Disposable Object, The Sexy Floor Lamp, The Nagging Wife, and The Strong Female Character, who overlaps with The Final Girl. These tropes are not all wish fulfillment, or sexual fantasy, some of these are created to shame behaviors that White men find displeasing, or as a way to center a narrative around White male anguish.

How to think of White women  isn’t all that  audiences  are learning. White men are also shown by these narratives how they should perform masculinity, and the things they should care about as men. These narratives reinforce the status quo by showing men how to be men towards both men and women. Men are supposed to have an interest in women, technology, cars, computers, games, the hard sciences, and sports, or they somehow are not real men. When they don’t choose to engage in one or more of these interests, they are losers, pussies, faggots, bitches.

In other words, they are equated to women.

Men are taught that being seen as  feminine is the worst thing possible for a man, and it is how they insult men of other races, by accusing them, not just of being less than human, but being like women. Not only are men being taught how to be men, but it is these same stereotypes that reinforce to  men of color how to behave towards women. So you have Black, Asian, and Latin men, all trying to be men according to  rules of behavior that were created by middle class, straight, White men. (Misogyny/machismo is not the sole province of White men. Trust me, those two things are a global phenomenon. But mainstream American media has done nothing to challenge either.)

Narratives that are created by White men also teach women how to appeal to men. Decades of sexist narratives teach White women how they’re supposed to behave for the reward of White male approval, (and that WoC need to be as much like White women as possible, but will still  be inferior to White women who are behaving properly.) They  prioritize those qualities they find most important, like sexiness without awareness of it, youth, vulnerability, submissiveness , thinness, thoughtlessness,  helplessness, and fragility. Through these narrative decisions White men shame those behaviors in women they find distasteful and/or inconvenient to fulfilling their needs, qualities like  physical and emotional strength, intelligence, ambition, immodesty, and being old, or overweight.

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And yes, this applies to WoC too, who have gotten the message loud and clear. In the recent dustup over a cartoon image of Serena Williams, the White man who created it, called upon decades of Black female racial stereotyping. These were images invented by White men to demean and diminish Black women, to show why Black women were/are the least desirable of all women, while, at the same time,  the sexual assault and exploitation of Black women  by White men was occurring.

The legal and social double standard that allowed white men to commit sexual violence against black women with impunity, while the most baseless fear of sexual contact between a black man and white woman resulted in deadly violence, continued after emancipation. 

It is through entertainment culture created by White men,  that Black women learn that they are unloved, unlovable, and not capable of love. Latinas learn that they are desired for being passionate and sexy,  and that they will be rewarded with male attention for exhibiting such behavior, and Asian women will learn that they are the most desirable of all women, especially if they are as quiet and submissive as their stereotyping requires.The purpose of these stereotypes is to keep all groups of  women in their place, by teaching women that their purpose in the world is sex, that their priority should be procuring male sexual attention, and how that should be done.

 

Women who fail to gain the sexual attention of men (attract the male gaze) are denigrated, shamed, and/or erased. Women who reject male sexual attention (those women who are anywhere along the LGBTQ spectrum) are made to serve the narrative in other ways. They still need to be sexy and appealing to straight men, hence the creation of the stereotype of the “Just a Phase Lesbian”, who is only with women, until the right man comes along. Women in same sex relationships, must be made to seem desirable (and attainable) to straight men, otherwise they are of no use, and must be criminalized and punished.

Women are not worthy of male attention if they are  too old, too fat, too poor, or have a disability that cannot be classified as sexy, (for example, if you are a woman suffering from  certain types of mental illness, or depression, that kind of vulnerability can be made to seem sexy, fun or exciting, to a male audience.) The end result is that all women are taught that their highest priority is gaining the sexual attention of men, (without seeming to actually do so, because women who make it clear that they want that attention are also shamed for  that.)

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The most popular types of movies, even those prominently featuring PoC and women, often consist of  violent power fantasies, sexual fantasies,  and the use and misuse of technology. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, and there are plenty of movies that are exceptions, but most of the top ten highest  grossing movies  consist of these topics.  (Most White men have plenty of  interests outside of  those topics, but this s not what you would know from watching visual media.)

The Presentation of Indigenous People

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It is very easy to make up stories about a group of people that everyone thinks are extinct, and White US Americans have been making up all kinds of stories about Native Americans since they arrived on these shores, stories that serve whatever purposes White people need them for.  When White people want to use and  exploit Native Americans, the women become sexy squaws, to be used and disposed of, the men become inspirations for sports teams. When White people  want to play White Savior, or steal elements of their culture, then the Indigenous communities  suddenly  become  proud, noble, downtrodden people to be saved, and the  theft of their culture, becomes elevation. They should feel honored.  Does a White man have a chip on his shoulder about his life? Well, then Indigenous people morph into a highly successful group who get free stuff, because they own casinos. When White people want to use their resources for their own ends, and Native Americans refuse to get out of the way? Well, then they are  transformed into a bunch of ignorant savages who need to be put down.

From fashion, to sports teams, to oil pipelines, Indigenous people in the US can be turned into whatever White people need them to be, and Pop culture (mainstream) media has aided, and abetted this exploitation, reinforcing whatever  stereotypes were needed for White America to accomplish their goals.

Most Americans know almost nothing about the lives of Modern Native Americans, as most of them have gotten all their information about them from TV shows and movies that are not created by them. When they get the opportunity to tell their own stories however, the depictions we get of Native American lives are significantly different from what is seen in mainstream media, which continues to erase their present existence, and get their past existences wrong.

 

It’s better to hear about their lives from their own lips:

 

At the turn of the nineteenth century, the western U.S. was exploding with colonialist ventures. For the U.S. government, their biggest obstacle was conquering Native Americans and establishing power and control over their land and their resources.

 

The murder and  exploitation of Indigenous women is ongoing.

 Native American women across the country are being murdered and sexually assaulted on reservations and nearby towns at far higher rates than other American women. Their assailants are often white and other non-Native American men outside the jurisdiction of tribal law enforcement.

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This is not an essay about exceptions to all of the above. This is an overview, of as much as I am able, to cover of the past 60 70 years, of how White men having temper tantrums over how the current Pop culture is pandering to groups of people that are not them, is an accusation that stinks of hypocrisy. White men have been pandered to for decades, and the fallout from that pandering has helped to  create a level of ignorance about American life and history that is unmatched by other Western nations.

There are some real world effects to all this pandering. All these stereotypical images of PoC,  LGBTQIA, and Transgender people have real world repercussions, and a part of those repercussions come from the effects that all this pop culture pandering has had on White men. But Hollywood, and television are paying attention and thinga are very slowly starting to change, or at least be questioned by new thoughts, new imagery, new types of plots and characters. Contrary to White men’s tears, this new attitude towards diversity is not pandering. I really do like to stay positive on here, so I’m not going to dwell anymore on what Pop culture has gotten wrong. In part three of The Pandering, I want to end on a happy note, and talk about how this can be fixed, and what pop culture media is getting right.

The Devil Went Down To The Crossroads

I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
Asked the Lord above “have mercy, now save poor Bob, if you please”
Ooh, standin’ at the crossroad, tried to flag a ride
Ooh-ee, I tried to flag a ride
Didn’t nobody seem to know me, babe, everybody pass me by
Standin’ at the crossroad, baby, risin’ sun goin’ down
Standin’ at the crossroad, baby, eee-eee, risin’ sun goin’ down
I believe to my soul, now, poor Bob is sinkin’ down
You can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown
You can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown
That I got the crossroad blues this mornin’, Lord, babe, I’m sinkin’ down
And I went to the crossroad, mama, I looked east and west
I went to the crossroad, baby, I looked East and West
Lord, I didn’t have no sweet woman, ooh well, babe, in my distress
— Cossroad Blues – Robert Johnson

 

I was inspired to write this essay  by an episode of Supernatural, titled Crossroad Blues, which aired in season two, and is a direct reference to the above song. In the episode, Sam and Dean are investigating the deaths of two people who said they were being followed by Hellhounds, and chronicles their first meeting with a Crossroads demon, whose job it is to collect the souls of humanity by offering people their fondest wishes, for a limited span of time. When their time is up, (a year, or five, or ten), Hellhounds are sent to collect the hapless soul.

The  folklore about haunted crossroads comes from many cultures, but the folklore referenced in this particular episode of the series is sourced directly from  the part of the South in which my mother was born, the Mississippi Delta. This is the kind of music I grew up listening to, and my Mom was the one who tried to explain the concept of Hellhounds to me.

The idea of Hellhounds (Black Hounds, Black Shuck, or Fetches, as harbingers of death) isn’t unique to the South either, but all these ideas come together directly from a song by Robert Johnson, where he sings about a man named Willie Brown, meeting the devil at a crossroads, making a deal with him for fame, and naturally, because the Devil is the Devil, regretting the whole matter, when it was time to pay up, and having to deal with the Hellhounds now on his trail..

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Tales of bargains with The Devil are even older than that, with one of the most popular being the German  legend of Johann Faust, who makes a deal with The Devil/ Mephistopheles, for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. So many movies, operas, plays, and stories have come from this legend, (and the Greek legend that spawned it), that it has become its own genre, The Faustian Pact/Bargain, in which a greedy person makes unethical, or soul destroying choices to get fame and glory,and pays a nasty price, although these specific stories are more religious in theme and origin than Southern folklore.

There are also lots  of tales of The Devil traveling down South and losing bets, due to the cleverness, or skills, of a human opponent. Before The Devil Went Down to Georgia, he was sung about in Lonesome Fiddle Blues, a song later adapted by the Charlie Daniels Band in 1979. In the song, a boy named Johnny competes in a music contest with The Devil, for a golden fiddle, and wins. It’s an entirely appropriate song for the show Supernatural, containing elements of Rock music and Country/ Bluegrass folk songs,  and its David and Goliath theme of a little guy being underestimated, and triumphing, over a supposedly larger, stronger foe. Sounds like a couple of guys we know, huh?

 

Going down to a Crossroads, to make  Faustian bargains, is also a popular trope. In the 1986 movie Crossroads, which was inspired by the legend of Robert Johnson and featured the title song, Joe Seneca stars as Willie Brown, who must go to the crossroads, and make a deal with The Devil to get back the soul he bargained away decades ago.

Willie is accompanied in this soul quest by Ralph Macchio, as Eugene,  and Jamie Gertz, as Eugene’s scheming love interest, Frances. The movie culminates in a guitar showdown between Eugene and a famous Rock guitarist, named  Jack Butler, played by Steve Vai, a contest which directly echoes the fiddling contest in The Devil Went Down to Georgia, right down to referencing  two different genres of music. The Devil, also known as Legba, (from Voudon), and Scratch, (a very old Southern name), is gleefully played by Robert Judd. The very first time I ever heard that name for the Devil was from guess who!

The entire movie has a poetic resonance, because the music Eugene uses, in a desperate bid to win his contest against Jack Butler, is the same classical music style that he’d spent the first half of the movie treating  with some contempt.

 

The 1941 movie, The Devil and Daniel Webster, is another retelling of the Faust legend  in which a famous lawyer goes up against the devil in a courtroom, to save the soul of a wayward farmer. Its based on the short story by Stephen Benet. The original title was changed to  All That Money Can Buy.

 

In the 1987 Angelheart, The Devil, played by Robert Deniro, as Louis Cyphre, gets as far South as Louisiana in his search for a runaway soul housed in the body of Detective Harry Angel, played by Mickey Rourke. This movie was most famous for the sex scene depicted between  Rourke, and Lisa Bonet, who was fresh off her stint on the much more wholesome Cosby Show. It’s a gorgeous film, although somewhat gory. This doesn’t contain a musical contest, but more of a contest of wills between Harry and Louis.

My favorite scene is one of the more innocent looking ones, where Deniro offers Harry an egg. Within the context of the movie, and its version of Christian mythology, the peeling of the egg is highly symbolic:

In the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, Easter eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ, with further symbolism being found in the hard shell of the egg symbolizing the sealed Tomb of Christ — the cracking of which symbolized his resurrection from the dead.

In this instance the egg represents the soul, most specifically  the soul of Harry Angel as Louis Cyphre peels off the egg shell, which is symbolic of the plot of the film, as Harry peels back the layers of his life and memories, until he reaches the film’s tragic conclusion.

Angelheart is available on Hulu.

 

One of my personal favorites is this little nugget  called The Devil and Daniel Mouse, based on the above movie, and created as a Canadian Halloween special in the early 80s. It took me a really long time to find this again. Once again, we get echoes of The Devil Went Down to Georgia, as the lead character tries to bargain back her soul from the devil, and is aided by the mouse who loves her, who contests the Devil in a musical fight.

This is available on Youtube.

 

 

Another cartoon offshoot of the Faustian Bargain is an echo of the above story called Rock and Rule. This is another favorite of mine, as it introduced me to a lot of different artists I’d not heard of before like Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop. I was already a fan of Debbie Harry, though. Its a very surreal film, with lots of music, and well… no people, just these furry type citizens living as if they were people, and while the Devil isn’t going down South in this movie, it does contain  the Devil’s Bargain theme. My favorite character is of course Mok, voiced by Don Francks, and sung by Lou Reed. My favorite song from this movie is Debbie Harry’s Angel’s Song.

(The full movie is available on Youtube.)

 

 

Check out any of the above, and if you have any recs for more Faustian Bargain movies, let me know in the comments. I may or may not have seen them.

Other Faustian Bargain films to Watch for Halloween:

Rosemary’s Baby

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Ghost Rider

Spawn

Devil’s Advocate

The Witches of Eastwick

Constantine

 

Finally here, have some more Robert Johnson:

October Is Here!

I love October! Its what many of us Octoberites call Halloween month, the weather has changed, which is an especially good thing for those of us suffering from Summer allergies, or who just hate any temperatures above 80 degrees, and I get to knit lots of hats, sweaters, and scarves without looking weird.

Its also time for me to focus on Scary Movie Stuff (which is the technical term, probably). Of course I do this all year long, but I have the excuse now to drop everything else I’m writing and focus on things like the scariest short movies, and reviews of my favorite scary films.

So here we go, and I’m going to start the month off with my top five  favorite scary short films right now. There will be more of these as I fall down that rabbit hole of short, scary films on YouTube.

 

Tinglewood

This is a very effective, straight horror story with genuine emotional depth. It’s  about a family that goes camping, and ends with a fight for survival, when they meet with the unexpected.

 

 

 

Mannequin

I think I told you guys about my fear of inanimate objects coming  to life. This film worked for me just fine.

 

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

This isn’t scary so much as tragic, but I loved the style in which it was done. It’s been Gorgeously filmed, Backwards!

 

 

 

The Monster Under My Bed

This one startsed  off pretty scary. I too have that monster under the bed fear sometimes, but ultimately this turned out to be deeply cute.

 

 

 

Battleground

About twenty or so years ago, this video was in an anthology show of Stephen King stories based on his book, Nightmares and Dreamscapes. This specific story however is from his very first anthology, written in the 70’s, called Night Shift, and it’s also one of my favorite short stories, written long before the movie Toy Story. It’s both funny and deeply terrifying.

 

 

As an added bonus here are some  of the scariest movies to watch this month:

 

The Ritual

I talked about this movie in one of my short reviews. It’s still available on Netflix. It’s a lot deeper than it looks.

 

Radius

Although I was somewhat disappointed in the ending of this movie, I did get really caught up in this movie’s premise. It’s about two people, a man and a woman, who can’t be separated from each other for a certain distance. They have to remain in each other’s radius, or everyone else in their radius will die. The movie spends the first third with them figuring out what’s going on, the second third of the movie is spent putting them in intense and inevitable situations where they will be separated, as they try to solve the mystery of what happened to them and why.  I thought the final third of the movie was rather anti-climatic, but makes sense given the setup of the first part of the movie. This is also available on Netflix, and is for those of you who like suspense, but not a lot of gore.

 

The Monster

I thought this was a pretty terrifying premis especially since the monster is never explained. Which means of course that the monster isn’t really the focus of this movie, and is a symbol of something else.

A mother and daughter are fleeing an abusive relationship, I think, and their car breaks down on a deserted road, and they are menaced by a monster. This is pretty straightforward but the plot is complicated by the antagonistic relationship between the mother and daughter, which I found just as compelling as the danger provided by the monster.

Theres quite a bit of for in this one, and those of you who don’t like to watch children in danger, take warning. This movie is  free for Amazon Prime subscribers.

 

Seoul Station

If you’ve seen the Korean zombie movie, Train to Busan, then this is the animated prequel. It chronicles particularly of how the zombie plague in the second movie began and stars a different cast of characters. I discussed this in one of my mini-reviews. Like the live action film, it’s basically one long chase scene, but entirely animated. This is the first time I’ve ever encountered an animated zombie film, and it is a very intense film that is not for children.

This is also available through Amazon Prime’s Shudder subscription. Shudder has a monthly cost of 5.00. I got it as a gift for  my Mom because she absolutely loves horror movies.

 

 

 

 

Next Week Hiatus

I won’t be doing my usual weekend reading post. I’m taking a bit of time off until next week so I can work on my long form posts. I’ve got about 5 or 6 long form posts Ive been working on for the past month, and life (illness) and work (full-time) keeps interrupting my publishing of them.

I have been watching what shows I can, when I can . I watched some episodes of Iron Fist, but was ultimately disappointed, despite actually liking a couple of episodes. I’ll have more on why later. I watched The Mayans, which wasn’t bad, but didn’t hold my interest much. I generally do not watch crime shows involving PoC, and it’s about Mexican bikers, so I kind of knew I wasn’t going to fall in love with it, but I didn’t hate it either. I just watched an episode of some show on HBO, called Random Flyness, which was really, really weird, unabashedly Black, and kinda soothing, like a freeform version of the show Atlanta crossed with an episode of Key and Peele. I want to write about that.

I’m most excited about American Horror Story Apocalypse. I did watch the first episode and I have a lot to say about it. I don’t know that I’ll post a review every week on it but that first episode deserves its own post so I’m starting work on that.

Right now I’m working on a post about landscape as an essential narrative element, and my highly ambitious second and third posts about White Male Pandering in Entertainment, along with a couple of review anthologies where I write about multiple shows.

Since the racist cartoon of Serena Williams was released, and the man who drew it claimed to know so little about a profession in which he fully takes part, I’m thinking of doing a post on the history of racist caricature, to explain exactly why what he did was racist as fuck to anyone who knows anything on the subject, and even a few who don’t. Beyond the drawing itself, I’m livid at the idea that this man claims to know nothing of the history of his craft of political cartooning.

I’m an artist. I’ve been a visual artist since I was a pre-teen. I was considered a talented draftsman, and even won local awards for my skills. I’m no cartoonist but even I know enough about the history of political cartooning that I would know a racist caricature if I drew it. I made it a point to learn about the history of my craft and improve, improve, improve. You cannot improve in your craft if you don’t know the history of it. I’m incensed because the man is being lazy and stupid (or just lying) about what he did. Either reason is equally shameful, and I have something to say about that, not just as a Black woman, who felt incredibly attacked by that image, but as an artist as well. Here are some other people who felt some kind of way about what happened:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/11/opinions/racist-serena-cartoon-mark-knight-rebecca-wanzo/index.html

 

This article may sit behind a paywall so be aware. Some of it is about the racial history of Australia, and how these images of Black people have contributed and enabled racism in Australia and the US..

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/09/12/what-the-herald-suns-serena-williams-cartoon-reveals-about-australias-racial-history/

 

Warning: This website is an archive of racist cartoons. I wanted to add this for informational  purposes, for those who haven’t really seen such images before, and you can contrast and compare the image in the Australian newspaper, to the historical caricatures of Black women.

The two articles above reference some of the Australian imagery like “The Golliwog”, and the Jim Crow Museum has images of this doll on the site. It also discusses the racial history of Australia, and why and how the doll was created.

There is also a drop down menu under The Museum, which goes into the details behind many of the images, what the various images are called, and the history of their creation, like The Mammy, The Jezebel, and the Black Brute.

https://ferris.edu/jimcrow/cartoons/

 

 

TA Ta until next week.

White Men: The Pandering Pt. One – History

This is part one of my three part rant? essay? discussion? of racism in pop culture,  how for much of its existence, the demographic it was aimed at was middle class (sometimes Working class) White men between the ages of 17 and 40, and how this manifested in our entertainments. I can’t  cover everything, or even as much as I like, (for example Art and Sports I’m going to have leave out of this discussion. I’m not knowledgeable enough to speak on the Sports issue, and the Art issue is a separate topic of its own), but I’m going to try to cover as much as I can, in as  coherent a  manner as possible.
This first part will give a quick primer into how and why cultural tastes changed, and try to relate it to the culture  wars we’ve been witnessing in the last twenty years.
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White men have had a nice long run as the arbiters of this nation’s cultural tastes, in music, books, TV, and movies. I’m mostly going to talk about the last forty years of pop culture, although I do discuss the precedent for a lot of the bad behavior we’ve been seeing, throughout the history of popular culture.
Pop culture is something that impacts all our lives. It is the books we read, the music we hear, the TV shows we watch, and the movies we see. It is so ubiquitous as to be nearly invisible, and everyone participates in it, and is affected by it, (especially those who think they are not just because they got rid of their TVs.) And since its invention, it’s been entirely controlled by straight, White, middle-class, cis-gender (American) men.
When television  finally reached a mainstream audience in the 1950’s,  much of it was aimed at middle class, White audiences, the only people who could afford it, and it was largely family oriented. What wasn’t geared towards children, was geared towards middle aged men, (with a nod towards White women here and there) most of whom had just come back from the war, were entering the jobs market  again, and had families to support. This helped to create what we now call Primetime TV,  those two to three hours between getting home from work/commute, and going to bed at 11 or 12 at night. Most daytime television was actually geared towards women (and small children) who were being encouraged to leave the job market after the war,and  go back into and take care of the home. What we think of as the modern Soap Opera appeared around this time, and also show’s specifically geared towards small children like Howdy Doody, (which appeared in 1947), Lassie, and The Mickey Mouse Show.
During the 60’s though, many forms of media began to aim for teen audiences, but tastes were still led by the White middle class, and much of American  culture was aimed at appealing to them. Black artists, especially in movies and music, had their own venues and many of them did quite well, while appealing to Black audiences. Just like now, young white  people often appreciated and appropriated Black culture, and every time they did that, their parents hated it, forming counsels to suppress and demonize it. From Swing and Jazz in the 20’s and 40’s, to Comic books in the 50’s, to the beatniks in the 60s, to Rap music in the 80’s, every time young people latched onto some new pop culture interest, the powers that be (the White men that owned all of media) found a way to suppress that interest by casting it in a negative light, or appropriated it in order to mainstream it to a wider audience, to make money  for themselves.
In the 60’s, White adults lost the war against Rock music because Rock music was aimed at young Whites  who, by that time, were controlling the cultural tastes. Music was darker and edgier, with messages of social justice prevalent  in Folk music, and the topic of drugs and sex in Rock. These are the things young folk were interested in and the different media industries crafted product to appeal to the disposable income of straight, middle class, White teens and young adults.
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Television shows, while still consisting of largely sitcoms and Westerns, became edgier and darker, too. Many shows (such as Star Trek in 1963) began promoting messages of social justice and free love that was being espoused by young adults of all races at the time, and the Westerns and sitcoms of the 50’s, with their bland messages about moral authority, were joined  by  much darker police procedurals,  science fiction,  and detective shows. The plots and humor of these shows was more sophisticated and complex. Much of this darkness came about because of the violence against racial justice movements, coupled with a progression in technology. The handheld camera and the steady cam brought images of racial and social unrest directly into the home. Corruption in the White House, and the Korean and Vietnamese Wars brought images of wartime atrocity into the home as well.
By the 70’s, the battles against music, and (comic) books, and movies, had pretty much been lost. But new ones were beginning. There was the rise of Disco, a musical style that was created and promoted within social circles  frequented  by Black women and  Queer Poc, which arose out of the free love movement of the late 60’s, coupled with the Stonewall Uprising in 1969.
In the above article, Arthur Chu lays out a history of White male outrage, from the 1970’s, to now. What we’re seeing now, all the tantrums and harassment, and shitty behavior IS NOT NEW!  When White men don’t like the direction in which the pop culture is turning, they always go into a paroxysm of violent and antisocial behavior to correct that direction. It happened to Rock music in the 60’s, against Disco in the 70’s, against Lilith Fair in the 90’s, they tried (and failed) with Rock music again in the 80’s, and Rap music from the 90’s til now. Mainstream America hated beatnik poetry, comic books, and even tried to ban Harry Potter books, and they worked  hard to censor movies as well, until the studio system was overturned in the 60s, which ushered in a new wave of movies with social messages, sex, and violence, which they also roundly hated.
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It appears that every twenty years or so, we must all suffer through the existential angst of the next generation of entitled White males discovering they are not actually the arbiters of American tastes, as they begin to grow older,  and 20-25 years from now, we’ll probably  go through this all over again, over some new subject. Each successive generation of White men discovers, as they grow older, that corporations involved in Pop culture, that used to appeal to them,  are now  appealing and responding to younger, more progressive (and browner) audiences, and in each generation there is a backlash against that, that they ultimately end up losing, as they age out, and cease to be of relevance to corporate America.
We are also seeing a rise in generational resentment as Millenials come under fire for the destruction of industries previously appealed to by the Boomers and Generation X’ers of the 20th century, like the motorcycle and housing industries. This form of generational warfare is also not new. It happened in the 50’s, and the 60’s, with adults vilifying teenagers for liking Rock music, and again in the 80’s, when the generation that ushered in Rock music, hated the British New Wave, Punk, and Rap music flooding radio airwaves, along with their genderbending styles and fashions.
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In every generation, White men are exultant to win a handful of skirmishes in the culture wars, just as they were happy at their brief victory over Disco,  and their routing of the female led Indie Rock scene in the 90’s, (called Lilith Fair), but they always eventually lose these wars, (and they’re going to lose this one too, I suspect.) Disco survived to become Dance music in the 80’s. The destruction of  Lillith Fair resulted in a huge Indie music scene, led by marginalized people, thanks to things like digital music streaming, Vevo, and Youtube.
The progression of  pop culture goes hand in hand with the progression of technology, and the Internet  has thrown a monkey wrench into practicing their current  outrages, even as it has given them new ways to show it. Their “victims” can now push back in ways they couldn’t in the past, and can now also isolate themselves in “safe spaces”, away from their meddling. Ironically, those musical styles that didn’t receive quite as much cultural pushback, have faded into  obscurity, like Punk, and New Wave.
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White (male) prioritization existed before television and movies, but I want to talk about how Pop Culture and the various media have aided and abetted it. I’m going to talk about the history of White (male) Prioritization in Pop Culture, what it is, what it looks like, and how we all reached the point where White male fans are, once again, doing that thing that White men have always done, attempting to turn the culture in the direction that suits them, as they begin to age out, and their opinions become less relevant to the corporations that seek to ever appeal to younger and Blacker audiences.
This is an especially appropriate topic considering Nike’s new promotional stance behind Colin Kaepernick as their new spokesman. Nike knows which side of the  bread their butter is on, and they’re putting their money behind athletes like Kaepernick, Serena Williams, because they appeal to the younger, progressive, more inter-racial, and socially savvy Millenials whose dollar  Nike wants. It is Black and Brown people who are driving cultural tastes and have been for the last thirty years, (from the 60’s through to the early 80’s, it was primarily White teens. Probably in another twenty years the arbiters of cultural taste will be Latinos). Black has always been cool, but now there’s real monetary power behind that idea, and that shows in the way the country’s musical, literary, and visual tastes have changed since the 80’s.
Side Note: Violent White male cultural outrage  goes back much  further than Pop culture. It is well documented that during reconstruction, after the Civil War, White men went into a paroxysm of lynching and terrorizing of Black people, (the KKK was invented to do just that), and the same during/after the Civil Rights era, and after Brown vs. board of Education.  Every time PoC made any kind of social progress, Whites responded with violence. they reacted just as violently sometimes to changes in Pop culture, too. White men behaving badly, when society is not heading in the direction they want for  themselves, is as American as apple pie.
The move technically only affected South Carolina and Louisiana but symbolically gestured to the south that the north would no longer hold the former Confederacy to the promise of full citizenship for freed blacks, and the south jumped at the chance to renege on the pledge. The end of Reconstruction ushered in a widespread campaign of racial terror and oppression against newly freed black Americans, of which lynching was a cornerstone.
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White men (and not a few women) have spent a not insignificant amount of their time in this country finding (and making up excuses) to violently terrorize women and PoC. From lynchings, to the harassment of marginalized people in online spaces, to mass shootings, it all stems from the same mindset, the maintenance of White male entitlement and supremacy. But this maintenance of White supremacy has also taken many other forms over the decades. One of those methods is White Prioritization. White men have traditionally been the ones to define reality for themselves and everyone else. They got to create the narratives,  name the out-groups, and determine their life choices.
OPPRESSION
The systematic subjugation of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, economic, and political benefit of the more powerful social group. Rita Hardiman and Bailey Jackson state that oppression exists when the following 4 conditions are found:

  • the oppressor group has the power to define reality for themselves and others,
  • the target groups take in and internalize the negative messages about them and end up cooperating with the oppressors (thinking and acting like them),
  • genocide, harassment, and discrimination are systematic and institutionalized, so that individuals are not necessary to keep it going, and,
  • members of both the oppressor and target groups are socialized to play their roles as normal and correct.

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The media (especially popular media) is often the  means of  disseminating this information throughout  the rest of society, (and the world) and one of the major ways this works is through:

White Prioritization:

To treat or consider as of greater importance than other matters.
The Entertainment Industry is entirely  owned and controlled by straight, White, cis-gender, middle-class men, from its creation, to its distribution, to advertising and consumption, and of course, men being men,  they would  prioritize their own interests, desires, and tastes, mainstreaming all the things they consider to be normal, while marginalizing everything and everyone  else.
*Stitch’s Media Mix outlines how White Prioritization is enacted in fandom:

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MaryAnn Johanson

about 3 years ago… “Did you honestly think that every poster showing a strong, handsome male lead holding a gun and getting ready to do some damage wasn’t designed to appeal to your need to feel and identify as powerful, and that making the lead actor white would make that connection easier?”

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*It is White men who get to decide what movies. songs, and TV shows will be a priority, and what everyone else will be watching and listening to, and the priority has always been for White men:
Casting Jordan over a white actor is pandering to black people and white guilt, as was casting Idris Elba as Heimdall in Thor. Making Ms. Marvel Muslim in the latest comic series is pandering to tolerance. Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn finally having their romantic relationship acknowledged as canon is pandering to the gay agenda. Michelle Gomez as a female Master in Doctor Who is pandering to feminists. So much pandering. Why must companies pander, oh why, screamed the straight white male whose only motivation is the unencumbered execution of art free from social issues and something something ethics in video-game journalism?
*It isWhite men who decide what roles will be played by whom, and in what movies:
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*It is primarily White men (with few exceptions) who decide whose stories are going to be told, who will be telling those stories, what gets said in those stories, as well as who is doing the saying, putting  words in the mouths of Blacks, Asians, women, and Queer people, or deciding if those characters will speak at all:
*These same men get to decide which movies will get made, receive critical acclaim, or win awards:
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*Publishing is not quite as bad although the situation is nowhere near parity, and there are still enough  White fan gatekeepers who will act foolish about various social issues:
*The music industry is almost as hopeless as the film industry. While there are increasing numbers of men of color calling the shots in this industry, so far all they’ve done is replicate the  intersectional version of sexism and patriarchy in the songs, performances, and music videos of the medium.
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*And as for the Gaming industry, White male Prioritization has been its watchword from the beginning;

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The Culture Wars

Basically, the culture wars we are witnessing today are not new. They have always been a part of American culture, and most often consist of Americans arguing among themselves over who gets to control cultural tastes, who gets to control the narrative and what is getting said. Whose voice takes precedence.

The ways in which these culture wars have been fought can manifest in different ways, but most often its through bullying, intimidation and violence from the dominant culture, after marginalized people begin speaking out about their representation (or in some cases, like with Disco, just enjoying themselves too much).  Sometimes this control is state sanctioned through censorship, banning of the items in question (like certain books), and even arrests, and lawsuits.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2018/08/03/culture-war/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ae4a595344c7

And since I’m an intersectional ranter, I don’t want White women to feel left out. Over  the many decades, there have been more than a few White women (and even WoC) willing, and eager, to jump on whatever cultural outrage bandwagon that White men were able to dream up, often in an effort to “protect the children” from certain music, books, and movies. We witnessed this during the ‘Gay recruitment of children’ phase in the 70’s, led by Anita Bryant; the ‘Rock music is corrupting the children’ hysteria during the 80’s, led by Tipper Gore; and the ‘Rap music is corrupting our children’ phase during the 90’s, which was, rather unusually, led by a Black woman named C. Dolores Tucker.

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Lately, it has been a common refrain from white male fans that diversity and inclusion is “being shoved down their throats”. (Why this particular euphemism is so prevalent is an ironic mystery, especially when used to refer to LGBTQ characters in movies, books, and games).  Every time some dust-up in Pop culture is caused by White men being angry about the inclusion of marginalized people, into spaces they have always thought of as theirs, I am reminded of Samuel R. Delaney’s essay about Racism in Science Fiction, which was written waay back in 1998, but is especially relevant today:

 As long as there are only one, two, or a handful of us, however, I presume in a field such as science fiction, where many of its writers come out of the liberal-Jewish tradition, prejudice will most likely remain a slight force—until, say, black writers start to number thirteen, fifteen, twenty percent of the total. At that point, where the competition might be perceived as having some economic heft, chances are we will have as much racism and prejudice here as in any other field.

And he was correct, because this has happened in every part of the entertainment industry that White men had claimed as their own.

Image result for screaming man gif

In Music:

Music that was already heavily influenced, or created, by Black innovation, experienced increasing degrees of demonization by the mainstream public, only to later be accepted by that same mainstream when the source material was  deliberately appropriated by White performers, and its initial audiences reached full adulthood. This has happened with every form of musical genre created by Black artists. Young White people love it so much, that they can only respect it by taking it and making it theirs. Unfortunately, their appreciation has a tendency to result in the devaluation and erasure of those who originally created the style, such as happened with Rock music. We’ve been watching this happen to Rap music for the last 20 years, but its happened with other genres:

Jazz/The 1920s

Disco isn’t the first musical style to win White people’s ire, because it was being performed by groups of people they didn’t like, (although some Whites were fascinated by these new cultural sounds), only to be appropriated, and made famous by White performers later:

https://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1069&context=constructing

White phonograph companies refused to record Negro jazz because of
the traditionalist opposition ~o jazz music in the general white population.
Traditionalists, usually Protestant middle-class Americans of Anglo-Saxon
ancestry, connected jazz to the Negro brothels, where it had first become popularin New Orleans. Milton Mezzrow, a jazz clarinetist, wrote that, in the twenties,Negro jazz “was called ‘nigger music’ and ‘whorehouse music’ and ‘nice’ people turned their noses up at it.”6 They refused to accept jazz because they believed it was immoral.

The Blues (1960s)

https://www.shmoop.com/blues-history/race.html

Phillips played an instrumental role early in the careers of the bluesmen Howlin’ Wolf and B.B. King, but he is best remembered for being the first to record Elvis. One of the most repeated quotes in the history of American popular music is Phillips’ fateful musing that if he could “find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, [he] could make a billion dollars.”16

That man, of course, turned out to be Elvis Presley.

Rock Music (1950s)

Often, White people treat other cultures as if they were the local Stop and Rob. The internet makes it so much easier for them to eavesdrop on other cultures, watching closely to see what cultural nuggets they can mine from marginalized peoples, from food, to hairstyles, to language, and they pounce the moment they think they’ve found something that can be White people’s newest hot take on…whatever. Incidentally White people never call any of this appropriation. They like to call it “sharing”.

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/music_box/2016/10/race_rock_and_the_rolling_stones_how_the_rock_and_roll_became_white.html

—Harper’s magazine published an essay by future Pulitzer Prize winner Margo Jefferson titled “Ripping Off Black Music.” The piece was partly a broad historical overview of white appropriations of black musical forms, from blackface minstrel pioneer T.D. Rice through the current day, and partly a more personal lament over what Jefferson, a black critic, had come to see as an endless cycle of cultural plunder. The article’s most striking moment arrived in its penultimate paragraph:

The night Jimi died I dreamed this was the latest step in a plot being designed to eliminate blacks from rock music so that it may be recorded in history as a creation of whites. Future generations, my dream ran, will be taught that while rock may have had its beginnings among blacks, it had its true flowering among whites. The best black artists will thus be studied as remarkable primitives who unconsciously foreshadowed future developments.

And that’s exactly what happened, as almost nobody remembers that Rock music was invented by Black artists.

Disco (1970s)

Another one of the forerunners to our current culture war was White male outrage at Disco Demolition Night in 1979. Disco was a music primarily engaged in, and created by, Hispanics, Blacks, and Women. Until this too was appropriated by groups like Abba and the Bee Gees, White men raged an all out assault against this music they felt didn’t speak to or represent them.

This resulted in a full-on riot at Comiskey Park in 1979.

https://aeon.co/ideas/the-night-when-straight-white-males-tried-to-kill-disco

http://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/2016/09/disco-demolition-introduction

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20180403-why-disco-should-be-taken-seriously

Rap Music (The 80’s)

There was also a White backlash aimed at Rap music, when it was reaching popularity in the late 80’s, and there were many attempts to brand it as demonic, illegal, immoral, and therefore worthy of censorship :

https://www.thedailybeast.com/when-nwa-terrified-white-america

The Great Rap Censorship Scare of 1990 – Medium.Com

View story at Medium.com

In Gaming

This culture war began  with Anita Sarkeesian (2012), who only had to make the announcement that she wanted to critique gaming from a feminist perspective. This eventually morphed into Gamergate, which pulled in  more women who were involved in gaming (2014), and eventually this  formed the backbone of the Alt-Right. The culture that harassed Anita Sarkeesian in 2012,  is of the same 4Chan mindset that birthed  the current ongoing campaign of harassment of women of color, Queer people on social media.

https://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/internet/2012/06/dear-internet-why-you-cant-have-anything-nice

(There was a second article by this writer detailing some of the harassment that Sarkeesian endured, which I have not linked to, because it contained violent and pornographic images of her.)

https://www.vox.com/2014/9/6/6111065/gamergate-explained-everybody-fighting

https://www.cnet.com/news/gamergate-donald-trump-american-nazis-how-video-game-culture-blew-everything-up/

In Movies/Fandom

Actor Harrasment

Since Hollywood has been listening to marginalized people, and begun the barebones acknowledgment of other audiences besides White men in their narratives, there has a been a concerted backlash against many of the actors involved in diverse, or  race and genderbent TV and movie productions, and characters, with Candace Patton from  the CW series The Flash, Kelly Marie Tran from The Last Jedi, and Leslie Jones from the all female  Ghostbusters of 2016, being the forefront. This has continued with Ana Diop, a Black actress who was cast as an alien named Starfire on the CW’s Titans TV series.

https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/6/5/17429196/kelly-marie-tran-instagram-deleted-harassment-star-wars-rose-last-jedi

https://www.thecut.com/2016/08/a-timeline-of-leslie-joness-horrific-online-abuse.html

https://www.themarysue.com/candice-patton-asleigh-murray-racist-backlash/

https://www.vox.com/2018/7/27/17618954/teen-titans-starfire-racism-anna-diop

https://www.forbes.com/sites/janetwburns/2017/12/27/black-women-are-besieged-on-social-media-and-white-apathy-damns-us-all/#7e22ea9e423e

In Publishing/Comics

The Rabid Puppies/Science Fiction

In the SciFi/Fantasy genre of publishing there has been a meltdown from writers who, just as Samuel R. Delaney stated, feel that there is TOO much diversity in the genre, that as straight White men they’ve been ignored, and that the genre has been taken over by SJWs, who are only giving awards to the like-minded. The less radical version of this group is called The Sad Puppies.

http://www.jimkelly.net/blog/2018/2/3/dont-read-the-comments

There has always been a certain level of diversity in comic books, but in the past five years Marvel and DC have made an all-out push for gay, transgender, Black, Asian, Muslim and other characters as the primaries in their own stories. A number of ” Legacy” characters have been replaced by women and PoC. Iron Man is now a Black woman named Riri, Thor, Wolverine and Hawkeye were replaced by women, Spiderman is now a young Black man named Miles Morales, Captain America has been replaced several times by Sam Wilson,  several DC characters, like Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, have come out of the closet, The Hulk’s new name is Amadeus Cho, the smartest person in the universe is a little Black girl named Lunella Lafayette, and one of Marvel’s biggest selling books features a Muslim girl in the role of Captain Marvel.

https://www.macleans.ca/opinion/the-culture-wars-come-to-comic-books/

High-profile writers of colour like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay joined Marvel’s roster of creators. In response, Marvel and those creators have faced online harassment. “They are legitimately frightened by harassers who threaten to come and find them at conventions, at stores, at their homes,” wrote comic legend Mark Waid in a Facebook post. “One was told she should be burned to death. Another was told that she should be put down like a dog. And those are examples of some of the less hateful attacks.”

https://blogs.canterbury.ac.uk/expertcomment/comicsgate-backlash-and-the-future-of-the-comics-industry/

https://www.thedailybeast.com/comicsgate-how-an-anti-diversity-harassment-campaign-in-comics-got-uglyand-profitable

Books and Magazines

Fireside Publishing has an entire series, titled The BlackSpecFic Report, which gathers the numbers on how  Black writers are being published less often than White writers, in speculative fiction, along with a series of articles by Black writers discussing how the problem manifests, and how it can be remedied.

https://firesidefiction.com/blackspecfic

https://firesidefiction.com/blackspecfic-2015

http://blacknerdproblems.com/fireside-and-fiyah-bringing-visibility-to-black-writers-in-speculative-fiction/

“Just admit your market’s discerning tastes skew colonial and that you’re fine with it, but stop insisting that apparently 100% of the stories you receive from Black writers just aren’t good enough.”

Comedy

Even Comedy has experienced a backlash from (primarily) White male comedians who have found that the version of comedy that may have launched their careers, has no place among today’s audiences. Thye complain that audiences have become too PC, and that not laughing at their old jokes is a form of censorship.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/gqm5wj/a-history-of-political-correctness-killing-comedy-615

https://franklycurious.com/wp/2015/06/18/whiny-comedians-are-just-growing-old/

https://www.laweekly.com/film/old-irrelevant-comedians-whine-about-censorship-in-can-we-take-a-joke-7169509

Some of these backlashes against cultural change are still ongoing, while some were lost long ago. I wanted to give short primer on the history of the Culture Wars, how it isn’t a new thing, and that this too shall pass, most likely to be replaced by some new one in about ten to twenty years. It is almost always generational in nature with the previous generation taking some crude stance against against a younger more Progressive generation. In this NY Times article the author compares two backlashes, from two different eras, and their similarities.

In the second part of this series, I’ll discuss how White Prioritization manifests itself within the narratives we consume, sometimes in ways that are invisible to the viewer.

Topics For Discussion (Weekend Edition)

Image result for burning sneakers

I don’t know if I’m a smart person. I’ve been told by various individuals that I am, (my brother would refer to me as a forgetful bobblehead), but I have spent my whole life trying to find out as much about the world as I can. To know as much as I can find out. So, to see the world descending into the real life version of the movie Idiocracy, is incredibly galling. I watched that movie a couple of years ago, thinking it would just be a stupid comedy, but I had a real emotional reaction to watching a movie about the decline of the human mind into… well, whatever that was in the movie, and I had to stop watching it, about halfway through. If you have never seen that movie, and your head contains brain cells that work, BY ALL THAT IS HOLY, DO NOT WATCH IT!!!! That will only end in tears.

Watching that movie will eliminate any and all faith that you had in humanity, and send you into a hell of depression and anger, as you recognize which version of the universe we are all now living in. People destroying property they have already bought, in protest of some corporate disfavor, is surely one of the signs of the apocalypse.

And don’t think this is just a problem of the Right. The Left has engaged in this sort of thing as well. Its the kind of behavior that people engage in when they have perhaps heard of protesting but aren’t quite sure how the process works.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/from-nike-to-keurig-conservatives-keep-blowing-up-things-they-bought-to-own-libs?via=newsletter&source=DDAfternoon

The stunts aren’t really boycotts at all, but attempts to channel political impotence through consumption. One American can’t change much with a vote, but she can easily set fire to her sneakers, in accordance with her political leanings.

 

 

 

Actually this article was both terrifying and hilarious. Also, it really just cements the idea in my head that bigots are people who simply lack any real imagination. Such people cannot imagine the world in any other  way other than one where they aren’t masters of everyone else in it. The only dynamic they seem to be able to  understand is one in which they are dominated by some other group, (which utterly terrifies them), or they dominate everyone else (which largely consists of bullying, terrorizing, and murdering those others.)

Being an effective artist, (especially a writer), capable of expressing nuanced ideas, requires a level of self examination, and people-knowledge that such bigots are wholly ignorant of. It requires an understanding of complexity. Anything that comes out of their imagination can only be simplistic, often appropriated from elsewhere, or pulled from their truncated understanding of  how the world works. They don’t know enough about people to write them well. They don’t know enough about the world to be able to imagine it in any  way  outside of their terror of it. These stories are full of the authors imagining the worst for stand-up, straight, morally righteous, White people, like themselves, or the worst for everyone else.

 

 

If you visit the website, linked in the article, you will have to sit there for quite a while. The author says he managed to sit through 19 minutes of it and couldn’t fastforward, go back, or pause. If you leave the site, you will just have to start  at the beginning, watching you don’t know how many minutes of a montage of videos illustrating the White Savior narrative in movies. There’s a part of me that finds that deeply funny.

Image result for avatar

https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/terence-nances-whitepeoplewontsaveyou-org-and-the-never-1828809698

The Blind Side is just one of many white-savior films Terence Nance skewers on his sublime WhitePeopleWontSaveYou.org—a website that just plays scenes from them on an endless loop while a chorus sings “White people won’t save you.” Also, the website doesn’t allow you to pause, rewind or fast forward. You just have to sit and watch and wonder when it ends. (I watched 19 minutes of it last night, so I know it’s at least that long.)

 

 

This article asks the age old question: Why don’t people ride bikes during or after the apocalypse? The answer is that’s something that only works in books, and looks a lot less cool than wearing BDSM gear on a motorcycle. We are so used to the Mad Max version of the the end of the world, I think we would have a hard time grasping the image  of people riding bikes during it.

We Westerners also  seem to think that that would be a global phenomenon, too. It just  occurred to me that huge parts of Asia would not be entirely up-heaved by the end of the world. People in Japan, India, and China already regularly use bicycles right now.

Image result for bicycles

https://www.thedailybeast.com/where-are-the-bicycles-in-post-apocalyptic-fiction

Bicycles don’t break their legs, they don’t need to be fed, and on a modern road, their gait is a lot smoother. The bicycle was a radical transportation breakthrough, especially when combined with the paved road, which is why millions and millions of people in poor countries still use them.

 

 

 

Image result for bright

This article discusses how science fiction gets racial allegories wrong. The writer points  out how the people being feared and despised by the populace  (mutants, aliens,  orcs), are almost always given enough power that  makes the fear of them entirely justified. Racial allegories written by White writers really just end up justifying real world racism. Basically saying, it’s okay to police the bodies of Black and Brown people because they really are dangerous to the dominant group. This was the major problem with the movie Bright.

http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-cringe-worthy-way-sci-fi-fantasy-deal-with-prejudice/

So, in the least-racist way you can, please imagine black people are hideous violent monsters who are physically stronger than humans and have large protruding fangs. Then understand in your kind human heart that we should accept these hideous monsters as equal to us normal, beautiful humans.

 

 

 

I thought this was especially interesting. One of the reasons I didn’t make any effort to watch Crazy Rich Asians is not just because I’m not a fan of romantic comedies, but because of the presence of Awkwafina, a female Asian rapper, who traffics in the usual tired appropriation of whatever African American tropes are floating around in her head.  She needs to find a way to express herself that does not involve stereotypes of Black culture.

I have met (and befriended) both Asian Americans, and White people, who grew up in Black culture. They lived in the ‘hood, went to school with Black kids, and all their friends were Black. They dressed, spoke, and acted just like the Black Americans around them. I do not think this is what’s happened in the case of Awkwafina. Is this some form of minstrelsy when engaged in by Asian Americans, and what does it say about them, as a group, that they  feel a need to choose between being Black or White?

Image result for awkwafina

 

https://www.colorlines.com/articles/performing-blackness-wont-fill-our-asian-american-culture-deficit-op-ed

“If first-generation White European immigrants…could use minstrelsy…to not only ensure their status as White people, but also to distance themselves from Black people, can Asian Americans use hip hop (the music, clothing, language and gestures, sans charcoal makeup), and everything it signifies to also assert their dominance over Black bodies, rather than their allegiance to Black liberation?”

 

 

 

 

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The people fighting against diversity in publishing are fighting a lost battle, I think. The Hugo Awards are probably trolling the Alt- Right at this point.

https://www.vox.com/2018/8/21/17763260/n-k-jemisin-hugo-awards-broken-earth-sad-puppies

But as we’ve also seen, these pushes for social change have led to backlash tinged with racism and misogyny — most notably through Gamergate, the unfortunate 2014 movement that essentially underpinned the rise of the alt-right, codified harassment campaigns against women and people of color for years, and helped give rise to the ideological polarization of the internet.

 

 

I’m always fascinated by the ideological differences between Eastern and Western approaches to technology. This article reminds me that I’ve seen very few movies and TV shows out of the East that make robots the bad guys. I’m sure there are some, but none come to mind for me. Asians have a very different approach to thinking about technology, than Westerners do. For Asian people robots and AI are friends, or allies, or happy tools that perform specific purposes. For Westerners (i.e. White people) there’s a tendency to think of robots as rivals, or enemies.

Image result for robots

https://www.wired.com/story/ideas-joi-ito-robot-overlords/

Technology is now at a point where we need to start thinking about what, if any, rights robots deserve and how to codify and enforce those rights. Simply imagining that our relationships with robots will be like those of the human characters in Star Wars with C-3PO, R2-D2 and BB-8 is naive.

 

 

This article is about how music (and musical styles) have degraded over the years. I still say that the 20th century was the time of the Great Vocalists, and although there are people who are good vocalists today, that an unprecedented number of them were born in the last century, and we will probably not see something like that again, (unless its an era that repeats itself later this century).

Article Image

https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/tragic-decline-music-literacy-and-quality

Music electronics are another aspect of musical decline as the many untalented people we hear on the radio can’t live without autotune. Autotune artificially stretches or slurs sounds in order to get it closer to center pitch. Many of today’s pop musicians and rappers could not survive without autotune, which has become a sort of musical training wheels. But unlike a five-year-old riding a bike, they never take the training wheels off to mature into a better musician.

 

 

 

Image result for natural hair

An interesting article about what it’s like to navigate an environment in which your hair is a source of fascination and political rebellion. I started wearing my hair in its natural state about three, maybe four, years ago, not for political reasons, but because I got tired of trying to keep it straight. None of the White people I know has evinced an ounce of interest in my hair. So far they are keeping silent about their thoughts. Black people however are willing to ascribe all manner of political motivations to me wearing my hair the way it just grows out of my head.

Even in Africa, Black people are fighting battles about how and where they can wear their natural hair.

https://qz.com/africa/1215070/black-hair-myths-from-slavery-to-colonialism-school-rules-and-good-hair/

This is one of the first dilemmas that black people face: do I let people touch my hair and under what circumstances? The question, “can I touch it?” becomes one of the most awkward social moments and can break relationships before they even start.

 

 

This was the topic that got to me though. Mostly I was just intensely baffled by it. The very first image that came to my mind was a scene from the book World War Z. There’s a chapter where one of the interviewees describes something called “Quislings”. He says its a French word for turncoat or something like that. Well, anyway he says that certain types of people ,when confronted with some emotionally overwhelming horror, try to appease that horror by becoming it, and that’s what quislings were trying to do, by pretending to be zombies. Of course, the zombies know they’re not zombies and promptly ate them. He describes a scene where zombies ate a quisling, but the person was so wrapped up in the delusion of being a zombie, that they were eaten alive while not making a sound, still pretending to the end.

Make of that description what thou wilt.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/why-young-men-of-color-are-joining-white-supremacist-groups

Tarrio and other people of color at the far-right rallies claim institutional racism no longer exists in America. In their view, blacks are to blame for any lingering inequality because they are dependent on welfare, lack strong leadership, and believe Democrats who tell them “You’re always going to be broke. You’re not going to make it in society because of institutional racism,” as one mixed-race man put it.

Fall Watch List 2018

There’s not really a lot of network TV that I’m looking forward to this Fall. There are some interesting shows on cable and streaming, though, and there’s some mid season releases I’m looking toward.

Sept. 4th

I have not watched the show that this one is a spinoff for, but I don’t care. I remember saying I couldn’t get into shows about Bikers because I know too much about actual Bikers, and the ones on TV are really just too damned pretty to be believable as a Biker Gang. The same is true here, but I’m gonna watch this anyway, even though I generally avoid watching shows that are about PoC committing crime.

The Mayans (FX)

 

Sept. 7th

I’m gon try this one mo’ agin! The trailer doesn’t look promising. In fact I’m expecting a certain level of racist wtf*ery anyway, but I’m gonna try to like it, if only because Colleen and Misty play such prominent roles. I’m probably never gonna like Danny Rand or the actor that plays him, but I can tolerate him, because I am a strong black woman!

Iron Fist (Netflix)

 

Sept. 12th

I skipped last season of this show because it was hitting too close to home, but I’ll try to watch this season, even though I skipped the very first season of AHS, too, which this is based on. It looks good though.

I’m moving away from in-depth episode reviews, unless it’s a show I’m super enthusiastic about, (like anything by Bryan Fuller). Some shows that are classed as being mildly interesting just won’t get that sort of treatment, but I will review as many season  premieres as I can.

American Horror Story (FX)

Sept. 21st 

I have no idea what this is about, and I am not a fan of either Emma Stone or Jonah Hill, considering them to be the blandest, most colorless actors that anyone could have chosen for these roles, but the premise looks mysterious, and mildly intriguing, in a science-fictiony kinda way, so I’m gonna watch it.

Maniac (Netflix)

Sept. 28th

This stars Jeffrey Wright traipsing through the wilderness, and some wolves, and that’s really all that’s needed to grab my attention, but the creators decided to add Alexander Skarsgard, who I’ve been in love with since True Blood, and now I’m committed. (It is possible after watching this I’ll  be committed, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

Hold the Dark

 

 

 

Oct. 5th

I couldn’t find a trailer for this, but I know it’s out there. Somewhere. The synopsis sounded as interesting as the title, so…

Into the Dark (HULU)

 

 

Oct. 7

I’m kinda off zombie shows, but this may be the last season to see Michonne get her kill on, and watch her and Rick canoodling. I plan to skip any and every episode that features Negan. I’ve  had about quite enough of him. I’m not super enthused about this season considering how the last episode ended. I’m not a particularly enthusiastic Maggie fan. She’s okay, but I suspect she’s going to be the next person I get really tired of seeing.

Oh, and I also have to keep watching to determine if Jesus is, in fact, as gay as I suspect he may be!

(Sorry for all the unnecessary bolding  above, but I’m too tired, and lazy, to undo it on this iPad. You’ll just have to turn down the volume on your computer.)

The Walking Dead (FX)

Oct. 9th

I don’t know why people are waiting so long to give us a trailer for this new season. I haven’t seen one yet, but when I find it, I will post it, forthwith!

Black Lightning (CW)

 

 

Oct. 11th

Well yeah….

Supernatural (CW)

 

 

Oct. 14th

I don’t know what to think or feel about this show yet.  I hated the original, but this one doesn’t inspire a great deal of enthusiasm either. I will watch it because I want it to have the support, especially after the fans of the original showed their racist asses about this casting, and hey, Mermaids turned out to be okay, so why not give this a try. Hopefully the magic represented on the show will have some elements of the ethnic backgrounds of the characters, instead of the usual European, colored lights styles, seen all over most of TV.

Charmed (CW)

 

Oct. 22

I’m watching this new season because the trailer is ridiculous, and I think Constantine is still visiting the gang. I do have this vague fear that this trailer I put up may be for last season, though, as my punishment for skimming those episodes.

Legends of Tomorrow (CW)

Oct. 26th

Heres a quick 9 minute rundown of what to expect in Season 2 of  Charlaine Harris’ second show. I thought the first season was completely uneven as far as the plot, but I did manage to get into the characters. This show does not have HBOs budget, or acting chops, but I think the show needs to embrace its cheesiness a bit more, like True Blood.  After all, this takes place in the same universe as that show.

Midnight Texas (NBC)

Nov. 28th

I think this is the last season for this show. I’ve been watching since the beginning, and haven’t always liked it, but it has been interesting.

Vikings (History)

 

Mid-Season Series – TBD

Brooklyn 99

This show,  which had run for a good five years, had been canceled by FOX, but has been picked up by it’s original creators at NBC, and will air for 13 episodes, instead of the usual 22, in January.

 

The Orville

I still don’t know how to feel about this show. It tries really hard, but it’s uneven, and sometimes the characters are hard to like. I watched quite a lot of last season, and it does look promising. If it can figure out what it wants to be it might be a great show one day.

 

 

The Passage

I really loved the books this show is based on, and the trailer looks intriguing with a father/daughter relationship between a rogue FBI agent and the little Black girl who trusts him. I’ve already posted the trailer , so here are some interviews with the actors about what to expect on the show.

 

Roswell New Mexico

Yeah, I’m  not watching this because I’m allergic to schmacting, but you know what, somebody, somewhere, is gonna love the hell out of this show. It’s like a teenage soap opera about pretty aliens.

 

Titans (DC SubScription)

I’m not subscribing to this.

 

Star Trek Discovery/ Season II (CBS All Access – Subscription)

I might subscribe. I’m still thinking about that, or just getting a jailbroken Firestick instead.

 

*I won’t be watching any of the 80s reboot shows that are all the rage this season. I’m not interested. I lived through the 80s already, I don’t wanna relive it through a bunch of shows I wasn’t all that hot about when they first aired. I’ll  try to find a better listing of new Fall shows for cable and streaming networks.

The Afrofuturism of ’90s R&B videos — Dark Matters

Michael, Janet and other Black artists saw themselves in bold, brilliant futures

via The Afrofuturism of ’90s R&B videos — Dark Matters

And on another note, today marks the 60th birthday of Michael Jackson

This is so true! I loved those videos from the 90s, in which Black people imagined themselves living in bright and  shiny futures, or dark Mad Max style apocalypses. Afrofuturism has a nice long history, going at least as far back as the 60s, and well documented.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-broadnax-afrofuturism-black-panther_us_5a85f1b9e4b004fc31903b95

What makes Afrofuturism significantly different from standard science fiction is that it’s steeped in ancient African traditions and black identity. A narrative that simply features a black character in a futuristic world is not enough. To be Afrofuturism, it must be rooted in and unapologetically celebrate the uniqueness and innovation of black culture.

 

https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/brown-girl-begins-sharon-lewis-discusses-her-afrofuturist-film-with-an-all-black-cast

browngirlbeginsposter.jpg

The reason I’m such a huge proponent of Afrofuturism is because it’s something that Black people can fully and completely claim as our own. Our traditions, our pasts, were stolen from us through enslavement and colonization, but the future is our own. Our future is ours.

” The future is not set.There’s no fate but what we make.”

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On another note, today is Michael Jackson Day and marks what would have been his 60th birthday. His sister gave a loving tribute to her brother and re- imagined the song Remember the Time in a comedic way. (This has always been one of my favorite songs. I got a whole bunch of those, btw.)

https://www.hotnewhiphop.com/janet-jackson-and-blameitonkway-re-imagine-michael-jacksons-remember-the-time-news.58467.html

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Also, this weekend was the AfroPunk festival in Brooklyn, although they have these all over the world. It’s sort of like The Burning Man Fashion Festival for Black people, without all the weed smoking, probably. One day, when I’m a little old lady perhaps, I might go there. It looks like fun. You dress in your wildest fashions, and listen to great music, and hobnob with your friends.

PHOTO: Attendees at AfroPunk 2018 in Brooklyns Commodore Barry Park, Aug. 24, 2018, share what the festival means to them.

PHOTO: Attendees at AfroPunk 2018 in Brooklyns Commodore Barry Park, Aug. 24, 2018, share what the festival means to them.

PHOTO: Attendees at AfroPunk 2018 in Brooklyns Commodore Barry Park, Aug. 24, 2018.

 

Image result for afropunk festival

Everyone at Afropunk looked like a damn dream

Everyone at Afropunk looked like a damn dream

 

http://afropunk.com/2018/08/afropunk-brooklyn-artists-repertoire/

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The trailer for the third season of True Detective dropped this weekend ,too. I’ve been a fan of the show since its first season and I’m really looking forward to this new one because it stars one of my favorite actors, Mahershala Ali, looking all serious and pensive. The third season airs in 2019 on HBO.

 

Tumblr Discussions A Go Go

I love images of Black women in armor, as you can see, I used to have one as my avatar so:

Here! Have a DeviantArt page full of nothing but images of Black men and women in armor:

Warrior Queen

andro-womeninarmor: “Basira- Wisdom by Othon Nikolaidis Found here ”

Basira- Wisdom by Othon Nikolaidis

 

 

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Probably one of the funniest phrases I’ve ever seen on the internet is “Its the Goatpocalypse!” It’s then followed by the actual reasons this neighborhood has been taken over by goats, which is almost as funny as the images themselves.

Goat Rentals!

If this happened in our neighborhood, half the residents would be having a complete shitfit while cursing their torn up lawns, and the other half, (probably all the women and children), would be running outside to pet the goats. (A smaller, more pragmatic, contingent would be trying to herd the goats into their garages to milk them.)

The goatpocalypse is upon us. (via KTVBJoe)

 morathor

Updates have since come on this subject; we now know where the goats came from and I gotta tell you, it is better than you could possibly imagine.  See.

These goats got loose from a goat rental service.

You may be thinking, who rents a goat?  Who rents a hundred goats?  What are they for?

They’re for eating.

Specifically, they’re for eating unwanted, flammable vegetation that can contribute to the spread of wildfires.  Some people whose property tends to grow such vegetation, keep their own goats.  But for some people it works out better to just rent some goats.

So.

These are Professional Eating Goats.  They are trained to thoroughly and methodically scour an area of plantlife.  And they came to the suburbs.

And they did their jobs.

I’m so proud of them.

 

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Image result for brooklyn 99

*Tumblr users discuss exactly why Brooklyn 99, a show I absolutely love despite my general dislike of cop shows, and my awareness that the show is, in fact, a form of propaganda. Now, this was not the argument I made for its being propaganda, but this person does a fine job of  outlining the  different reasons why it might be considered such. This is not to say you can’t enjoy this show, even if it is. What critics of Pop Culture are actually trying to do is get people to be more mindful of what they’re consuming, not destroy their enjoyment.

Originally posted by donniefuckassdarko

So, as I have been briefly visiting some of the B99 tumblrs I see showing up in the notes, I’ve discovered that the tumblr algorithms keep directing me over and over to posts about the question, “Is Brooklyn Nine-Nine just propaganda for cops?”

I have some thoughts about that which I will put below the cut tag. The short story:

1) Any show with cops as protagonists unavoidably becomes cop propaganda.

2) Brooklyn Nine-Nine is overtly idealistic, whereas most cop shows at least pretend to be realistic.

3) At this point in American history, idealist cop propaganda may actually be socially useful, in part because it counterbalances the social effect of realistic cop propaganda.

I could go on about this topic for a long time but I will try to keep it short.

* The position of protagonist is so powerful and the desire to identify with the protagonist is so strong that whoever you put in that role becomes the person that the viewers will attach themselves to and sympathize with. This is true whether the protagonist is good or evil. If your protagonist is a serial killer, the fans identify with and sympathize with the serial killer. If your protagonist is a chemistry teacher gone bad, they will sympathize with the chemistry teacher gone bad *no matter how bad he goes.* It doesn’t matter who you put at the center of the narrative, people identify and empathize with that person. This is why it’s so important that white men are losing their lock on the position of protagonist (and why so many white male viewers are freaking the fuck out over that).

+( Except when, as has not been pointed out here, that primary character is a man of color, in which case, White viewers are quick to vilify them as villains, while giving White male villains, in the same narrative, a pass.)

* In general, crime fiction tends to idealize the detective and more specifically the police procedural tends to idealize the police. Even in the hard-boiled genre where the detective is a deeply flawed antihero, this still happens (see point #1).

* I grew up during the heyday of the “gritty” cop show, which attempted to change this by offering a more realistic depiction of American policing (Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue, etc.). “Gritty” basically meant more violence, more drugs, and more unethical behavior from the police. You started to see storylines for main characters who were abusing their powers, corrupt, addicted to police brutality. If this was intended as a critique that might motivate people to demand social change, that is definitely not what happened. Instead, this bad cop behavior became the norm, and eventually, the cool and the good. If the protagonist is doing it, then it must be cool. Dirty cops, cops who use excessive force, cops who lie about the excessive force they’re using–all of that was rehabilitated because the cop is, by definition, for most viewers, the ‘good guy’ and if the ‘good guy’ is doing bad things there must be some reasonable/sympathetic explanation for that. Then after 9/11 torture became A-OK for ‘good guys’ to do and that was very bad for the police procedural but I’m not going down that rabbit hole right now.

+(What people don’t take into account is that the people who are cops now also grew up watching all this gritty cop imagery as well.)

* So the “gritty realism” cop drama just became another kind of cop propaganda. A bad kind, to my mind. It got people used to the idea that cops don’t have to obey the laws, that it’s OK to mistreat people as long as you ‘know’ they’re criminals, and that if they steal a little blow or get paid off by the occasional mobster, that’s OK because they do a hard job and they have to deal with the pressure and anyway they’ll eventually be punished for it and that will be tragic and we will feel bad for them.

+(This can be traced as far back as the gritty cop films of the 70s/80s,  like Dirty Harry, Death Wish, and The French Connection, and even in comedies like Beverly Hills Cop,  where the police routinely break the rules of law, and get rewarded for it, because they caught the bad guys. We have an entire generation of Americans who grew up watching countless hours of  such plots, and they have not stopped making these movies either.

But I want people to notice the similarity of the tropes in these movies to the constant refrain from apologists of police brutality. Many of their excuses for why the police kill unarmed Black people sound they can be taken directly from the excuses the cops use, in some of the movies.)

* “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is a comedy and not just in the ha-ha-funny sense of the word. It’s comic in a more old-fashioned sense in that it takes place in a world that is, essentially, good and happy and full of fellowship and community. This is precisely why, when you contrast the world of the Nine-Nine with what we know about the actual NYPD, it can seem grotesque (as symbolized by the GIF I opened with, where happy Gina rocks out obliviously as violence and chaos erupt around her).

* But. What is valuable to me about B99 in the context of cop shows is that it has rejected the “gritty realism” definition of a good cop. On B99, a corrupt cop is a bad cop; a bigoted cop is a bad cop; a cop who plants evidence is a bad cop; a cop who’s addicted to excessive force and illegal activity is a disordered and deranged cop (Adrian Pimento). These bad cops are sometimes people’s friends, partners, or idols; but they are not given a pass for that reason, and they are not given protagonist status. They are, or become, antagonists and they are eventually expelled from the Nine-Nine (Pimento is a bit of an outlier, but Diaz does eventually kick him to the curb). The protagonists, meanwhile, are committed to being ‘good cops’–which means following the law, treating people with respect (even if they show up in superhero garb), and being honest.

I think this is deliberate on the part of the show’s creators, and I think they’re deliberately satirizing a lot of the ‘bad cops are cool’ tropes that have become part of the genre. B99 is like what would the Adam West Batman would have been if it had been done after the whole Dark Knight franchise thing instead of before. I mean this is B99′s version of torturing a suspect:

image

Originally posted by marquiis-de-la-baguette

And as Jake points out, it never works.

* This is demonstrated in one of my favorite Charles & Rosa bits. In the S4 episode “The Overmining,” after Rosa discovers that their foot massage parlor is most likely a front for some criminal enterprise, she and Charles have a scene in the briefing room where they discuss what they’re going to do about it. Rosa enlists Charles in the development an elaborate fantasy in which she invents a justification for leaving the foot massage parlor alone. They are briefly enraptured by this collaboration; it’s one of their most charming interactions. But once they reach the end of it, they both look at each other in silence. Then Rosa says, “we’re gonna have to do our stupid jobs,” and Charles says, “Yeah, let me get my stupid gun.” It’s a minor point in a B-plot, but it’s very revealing about the show as a whole. This place hasn’t tried to corrupt them; nobody’s offering them money; only they are aware of the ‘bribe’ that they are considering offering themselves; the chances that they would get ‘caught’ are almost nil. But they still can’t do it; and what’s more, the audience wouldn’t let them do it because the audience knows on some level that even this trivial act of police corruption is unthinkable for Rosa and Boyle. Because they’re good cops, even though at this moment they’re pissed off about it.

* Is that propaganda? Well, it’s propaganda for the idea that cops should be good (brave, honest, and just)Not that cops are good (which is the message sent by traditional police prodecurals in the Law & Order vein) or that cops are brave but can’t be expected to be honest and just (which is the message sent by “gritty realism” cop shows). But that they should be, and that maybe under the right conditions they could be. And in the context of art, that’s what idealism is: a representation of how things *should* be.

* Idealism’s social effects are complicated and some of them are starkly negative. White Americans, for instance, tend to idealize institutions like the police and the courts, and to be resistant to the idea that said institutions perpetuate inequality. That kind of idealism is a function of privilege: if you’ve never been wrongfully accused or convicted, then you can go on for quite a long time believing that nobody else ever has been. On the other hand, idealism is also ultimately the only foundation for progressive politics or for ideas like honesty and justice. This is a central preoccupation of “The Good Place”: in a world without idealism, how can people be good? The only motivation for being good that is not in some way corrupt has to be based on an idealistic belief in *something*–even if it’s just your idealized beloved.

* So, if you believe that policing can never be good–if you, for instance, think that developing a full-time police force is where modern society went wrong, and that social progress depends on dismantling ours–then yes, B99 is part of the problem. B99 uncritically accepts the necessity for a police force and there is no examination of the ways in which even good cops can negatively impact society as a whole. For instance, it’s always accepted that more arrests=good. That’s the metric Holt and everyone else use to determine whether a detective is good at their job: how many people do you arrest and how many of those do you clear. The consequences of the fact that the Santiago/Peralta bet given them both an incentive to arrest people they might not otherwise arrest are not examined. The idea that*fewer* arrests might be desirable is a bridge too far for the characters and the show. In fact, in the B99 universe it’s a problem when crime rates drop because the Nine-Nine is threatened with closure. By getting us so invested in the preservation of the 99th precinct, B99 does get us attached to the idea that we can’t do without the police. To that extent, it is cop propaganda.

* But if you believe that the police must exist but that they should be just and honest, then B99 is part of the solution–because it challenges the idealization of bad policing that has been a trend in US popular culture since at least the 1980s.

 

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Image result for fandom

*This discussion about the different ways men and women perform fandom was very enlightening. I had been trying to put my finger on why fandoms that were predominantly male were different from fandoms made up of mostly women, and I think this writer hits it on the head.
What isn’t mentioned here however, is that female fandom is  also very relationship motivated. What intrigues women in fandom is not the minutiae of the world building so much as it is the characters and their relationships to each other. It’s the reason why shipping is such a huge deal for female fandom, and why we engage in the creation of meta as much as we do. That is something that is less of a priority for men.
Women want to be a part of those worlds in a different way than male geeks, who often imagine themselves in that world as powerful, mastering the technology of that space, or solving that world’s problems. Women prefer to imagine themselves as having relationships to and interacting with the other characters, (although everyone engages in some degree of self-insertion.)
But it is this different approach to fandom that helps to explain some of the gatekeeping of male fans.

gingerjuju;

I just don’t understand where this concept of ‘fake geek girls’ came from. Like, AT ALL.

Cus when I look for fandom related stuff like 90% of the fan art and the fanfiction and the meta, zines, comics, etc. Like 90% of the shit that I’ve seen is created by women & girls.

And all that stuff take’s a lot of work and research and critical analysis and staring at reference photos for hours.

We are literally the most well versed and invested group in the fandom. So, like, What the fuck boys? You mad you can’t keep up?

 

scifigrl47

I saw an argument, and I can’t find it now, but it totally made sense, that there’s a gender split in fandom. Male fandom tends to be a curator fandom; male fandom collects, organizes, and memorizes facts and figures. Male fandom tends to be KEEPERS of the canon; the fandom places great weight on those who have the biggest collection, the deepest knowledge of obscure subjects, the first appearances, creators, character interactions.

Female fandom is creative. Females create fanart, cosplay, fanwritings. Female fandom ALTERS canon, for the simple reason that canon does not serve female fandom. In order for it to fit the ‘outsider’ (female, queer, POC), the canon must be attacked and rebuilt, and that takes creation.

“Male” fandom devalues this contribution to fandom, because it is not the ‘right’ kind of fandom. “Girls only cosplay for attention, they’re not REAL fans!” “Fanfiction is full of stupid Mary Sues, girls only do it so they can make out with the main character!” “I, a male artist, have done this pin-up work and can put it in my portfolio! You, a female artist, have drawn stupid fanart, and it’s not appropriate to use as a professional reference!”

In the mind of people who decry the ‘fake geek girl,’ this fandom is not as worthy. It damages, or in their mind, destroys the canon. What is the point of memorizing every possible romantic entanglement of heterosexual white Danny Rand if someone turns around and creates a fanwork depicting him as a bisexual female of Asian descent (thus subverting Rand’s creepy ‘white savior’ origins)? When Danny Rand becomes Dani Rand, their power is lessened. What is important to them ceases to be the focus of the discussion. Creation and curatorship can work in tandom, but typically, in fandom, they are on opposite poles.

This is not to say that there aren’t brilliant male cosplayers or smashing female trivia experts, this is to say that the need of the individual fan is met with opposing concepts: In order for me to find myself in comics, I need to make that space for myself, and that is a creative force. Het white cis males are more likely to do anything possible to defend and preserve the canon because the canon is built to cater to them

 

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And for the serious, more informative part of this post:

This is a list of tropes about Asian women, and that  first trope  is probably the reason I had such an averse reaction to the Elektra character in Daredevil. For me she was a classic example of The Dragon Lady, being of course, beautiful, evil and mysterious, who seduces Matt and tries to corrupt him. This is especially obvious when she was contrasted against the blonde, wholesome, and virginal, Karen, who is supposed to be good for him. The article also outlines how these stereotypes are harmful to Asian women in the real world.

Oh, yeah don’t forget this kinda newish trope, the rebellious Asian woman with the colorful hair: as seen on the TV show Minority Report, and the movies The Wolverine, Deadpool 2, and Pacific Rim!

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/asian-women-colorful-hair-trope-problem

 thisisnotjapan

Recently, a friend and I were talking about growing up Asian American in predominantly white neighborhoods and schools, and she told me that when she was in fifth grade, boys teased her on the playground by saying that she had a “sideways vagina.”

This has happened to me, too – and I’m sure to so many other Asian girls.

From racist humor in mid-1800s brothels to today’s playground jokes, the race and gender identity of Asian women is seen as so foreign, so “alien,” that our vaginas magically defy biology.

Throughout my life, I’ve received unwanted comments and questions about my body, specifically my anatomy, including being harassed on the street with calls like, “Ni hao,” “Konichiwa,” “Are you Chinese, Japanese, or Korean,” and recently, “Hi Ling Ling.”

On top of that, in my dating history, I was expected to be more quiet and less assertive.

The hyper-sexualization and fetishization of East Asian women is problematic – I am not “lucky” that my race and gender is imagined as sexy and exotic, that Asian women “all so beautiful.”

Or that, an image search of “Asian women” pulls up excessive pictures of women posing in lingerie.

Racial fetishes are about objectification, fetishizing an entire group of people – in this case Asian women, means reducing them down to stereotypes instead of recognizing their full personhood.

Beyond just personal preferences or “having a type,” racial fetishes project desired personality and behavior onto an entire racial or ethnic group.

The fetishization of Asian women even has a name, “yellow fever” – as if the obsession with Asian women were also a disease.

When my identity as an “Asian woman” becomes the only thing that’s important to someone in an interaction, that’s a problem.

This is different from an interracial partnership where all partners are equally respected. Fetishizing someone’s race and gender means not caring about someone as an individual.

So, where did the fetishization and objectification come from? How did Asian women get the hypersexualized stereotypes of being docile and submissive or being dangerous and seductive?

While today, some people might think of fetishes and sexual stereotypes as “not a big deal,” the history behind these tropes is rooted in violence and war, which get oppressively reimagined by mainstream media and entertainment.

Below are five ways East Asian women became fetishized and how that fetishization horribly impacts our lives.

1. Mainstream Media Creates the Submissive ‘Lotus Blossom’ and Evil ‘Dragon Lady’ Stereotypes

“[S]mall, weak, submissive and erotically alluring…She’s fun, you see, and so uncomplicated. She doesn’t go to assertiveness-training classes, insist on being treated like a person, fret about career moves…” —Tony Rivers, “Oriental Girls”, Gentleman’s Quarterly, 1990

Growing up, Lucy Liu was one of the only East Asian women I saw on TV and in movies. It was her, the Yellow Power Ranger (Thuy Trang), and Mulan.

For me, Liu is badass – both for being one of the only Asian American actresses in mainstream Hollywood and also for playing roles that literally kick ass.

However, many of her roles throughout the 90s and early 2000s, such as Ling Woo on Ally McBeal or as O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill, were also ones that showed Asian women as beautifully evil, aggressive, and also mysterious.

Asian women are often stereotyped as either the dangerously cunning “Dragon Lady” that seduces White men, leading to their inevitable downfall, or as the submissive “Lotus Blossom.”

Both are meant to be demeaning and demonizing.

While there are exceptions, for the most part, mainstream media has created one dimensional, sexualized representations of Asian women that have affected the way they’re perceived by others.

Chinese actress Anna May Wong, the first Asian American actress to be internationally famous in the 1920s, was often cast in stereotypical supporting roles – and passed over for leading roles of Asian characters, which were given to white actresses in yellowface.

One of her most recognized characters was the demure, respectful Lotus Flower in The Toll of the Sea.The demure, subservient, and delicate “Lotus Blossom” stereotype is intended to cast Asian women as “less than,” both in terms of race and gender.

These stereotypes are seriously harmful. In the US, up to 61% of Asian women experience physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner during her lifetime.

Being docile is specifically about being deferent and obedient, especially to the authority of men.

As our race, gender, and sexuality become ruled by Western and male fantasy, in order to serve men sexually, Asian women must both be “feminine” and “heterosexual” and also either submissive and/or hypersexual.

These double stereotypes of “Lotus Blossom” and “Dragon Lady” reflect the ways that Asian women become transformed into either a sexual servant or embodied as a sexual adventure.

https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/12/asian-woman-fetishes-hurtful/

Continue reading “Tumblr Discussions A Go Go”

Weekend Reading: How Porn Affects The World

*I consider myself a sex positive person, in that I do not pass judgement on who, how, and when, someone is fucking another human being, as long as all of it consensual. I’m not even opposed to porn in some regards, but I do consider it part of Pop Culture, because so many of its ideas makes its way into mainstream culture, and because of that, a lot of it’s worse side effects are ignored. There is a lot of violent pornography online, which reflects and fuels misogyny, pedophilia, and some of the worst sections  of MRA and Incel culture.

Pornography finds its way into mainstream entertainment as well. One of the reasons why is that as pornography changes, as it ups the ante on graphic imagery, mainstream culture tries to compete with it by incorporating more of it, in an attempt to keep men’s attention.

https://fightthenewdrug.org/the-pornification-of-society/

https://fightthenewdrug.org/matt-morrissey-how-porn-exposure-traumatizes-boys/

 

 

*On the subject of how a constant diet of pornographic images effects the real world, we will let the facts and figures speak for themselves. This list of facts, and its links were painstakingly compiled by:

 

http://luaren.tumblr.com/post/79627230804/yeah-because-you-can-totally-tell-how-smart-i-am

 

MASSIVE trigger warning for the following links and bullets. includes mentions of rape, abuse, violence, racism, misogyny, homophobia, child sex abuse, pedophilia

 

Porn use:

  • There are over 420 million pages of pornographic material online worldwide. (IFR)
  • 72 million searches for porn are logged monthly. (IFR)
  • 25% of all daily search engine requests are for pornography (68 million searches daily) (IFR)
  • 42.7% of internet users view porn (IFR)
  • 100,000-plus websites are devoted to child pornography. There are over 116,000 daily requests for this material. (IFR)
  • 20% of men admit to accessing pornography at work (IFR)
  • 35% of those purchasing online porn make $75,000-plus annually. (IFR)
  • The United States is the top producer of pornographic web pages with 244,661,900, or 89 percent (IFR)
  • Worldwide revenue from mobile phone pornography is $1 billion-plus and growing (Bryan-Low, Cassel and Pringle, David. “Sex Cells: Wireless Operators Find That Racy Cellphone Video Drives Surge in Broadband Use.” The Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2005)

 

 

Ex-porn star testimonies:

  • Corina Taylor: ”When I arrived to the set I expected to do a vaginal girl boy scene. But during the scene with a male porn star, he forced himself anally into me and would not stop. I yelled at him to stop and screamed ‘No’ over and over but he would not stop. The pain became too much and I was in shock and my body went limp.”
  • Jenna Jameson: ”Most girls get their first experience in gonzo films – in which they’re taken to a crappy studio apartment in Mission Hills and penetrated in every hole possible by some abusive asshole who thinks her name is Bitch.”
  • Alexa James: ”The first shoot I did was with a man who was probably 40 and he was as thick as a soda can. He held me down and shoved it in me with no lube tearing my vagina. When I started to tear up and cry he flipped me over and continued from behind be so they wouldn’t get me crying on film. He pulled my hair and choked me over and over again even when I told him it hurt and I could barely breathe.”
  • Linda Lovelace: ”My initiation into prostitution was a gang rape by five men, arranged by Mr. Traynor. It was the turning point in my life. He threatened to shoot me with the pistol if I didn’t go through with it. I had never experienced anal sex before and it ripped me apart. They treated me like an inflatable plastic doll, picking me up and moving me here and there. They spread my legs this way and that, shoving their things at me and into me, they were playing musical chairs with parts of my body. I have never been so frightened and disgraced and humiliated in my life. I felt like garbage. I engaged in sex acts for pornography against my will to avoid being killed.The lives of my family were threatened.”
  • Andi Anderson: ”After a year or so of that so-called “glamorous” life, I sadly discovered that drugs and drinking were a part of the lifestyle. I began to drink and party out of control! Cocaine, alcohol and ecstasy were my favorites. Before long, I turned into a person I did not want to be. After doing so many hardcore scenes I couldn’t do it anymore. I just remember being in horrible situations and experiencing extreme depression and being alone and sad.”
  • Alexa Milano: ”My first movie I was treated very rough by 3 guys. They pounded on me, gagged me with their penises, and tossed me around like I was a ball! I was sore, hurting and could barely walk. My insides burned and hurt so badly. I could barely pee and to try to have a bowel movement was out of the question. I was hurting so bad from the physical abuse from these 3 male porn stars.”
  • Jessie Jewels: ”People in the porn industry are numb to real life and are like zombies walking around. The abuse that goes on in this industry is completely ridiculous. The way these young ladies are treated is totally sick and brainwashing. I left due to the trauma I experienced even though I was there only a short time.”
  • Genevieve: ”I had bodily fluids all over my face that had to stay on my face for ten minutes. The abuse and degradation was rough. I sweated and was in deep pain. On top of the horrifying experience, my whole body ached, and I was irritable the whole day. The director didn’t really care how I felt; he only wanted to finish the video.”
  • Jersey Jaxin: ”Guys punching you in the face. You have semen from many guys all over your face, in your eyes. You get ripped. Your insides can come out of you. It’s never ending.”
  • Elizabeth Rollings: ”I didn’t want to feel the pain of penetration from an over average sized man, being told to freeze in a position until the camera man was happy with his shots was very painful. I had peoples body fluids forced on my face or anywhere else the producer pleased and I had to accept it or else no pay. Sometimes you would get to a gig and the producer would change what the scene was supposed to be to something more intense and again if you didn’t like it, too bad, you did it or no pay.”
  • Lucky Starr: ”I was worried about my first anal scene for quite a few days … then the big moment arrived. It REALLY hurt! I almost quit and said, “I can’t do this”. When it was all over, I was so happy and relieved I was able to do it…”
  • Ashlyn Brooke: ”I honestly felt that if I had to have another strange man in my face, his hands (God knows where they’ve been all over me) him calling me his baby and having to exude some sort of forged passion for the world to see, I probably would have exploded. And what would have been stuck to the walls would have probably been nothing, just pieces of skin, bone, the brain of a robot, and what would have been left of what would have existed once as a huge and warm heart.”
  • Roxy: ”After only 30 movies I caught two sexually transmitted diseases. Herpes, a non-curable disease and HPV, which led to cervical cancer where I had to have half of my cervix removed. Porn destroyed my life.”
  • Anita Cannibal: ”Yeah, there are a lot of cover-ups going on. There is a lot of tragedy. There are a lot of horrible things.”
  • Tamra Toryn: ”As for myself, I ended up paying the price from working in the porn industry. In 2006, not even 9 months in, I caught a moderate form of dysplasia of the cervix (which is a form of HPV, a sexually transmitted disease) and later that day, I also found out I was pregnant. I had only 1 choice which was to abort the baby during my first month. It was extremely painful emotionally and physically. When it was all over, I cried my eyes out.”
  • Jessi Summers: ”I also did a scene where I was put with male talent that was on my no list. I wanted to please them so I did it. He put his foot on my head and stepped on it while he was doing me from behind. I freaked out and started balling; they stopped filming and sent me home with reduced pay since they got some shot but not the whole sce

 

porn trends:

 

 

how pornographers feel about women:

  • “I’d like to really show what I believe the men want to see: violence against women. I firmly believe that we [pornographers] serve a purpose by showing that. The most violent we can get is the cum shot in the face. Men get off behind that, because they get even with the women they can’t have. We try to inundate the world with orgasms in the face.” –  Bill Margold, porn industry veteran, quoted in Robert J. Stoller and I. S. Levine, Coming Attractions: The Making of an X-rated video; 1993.
  • “There’s nothing I love more than when a girl insists to me that she won’t take a cock in her ass, because — oh yes she will!” –Max Hardcore, interviewed in Hustler (June 1995).
  • “My whole reason for being in this Industry is to satisfy the desire of the men in the world who basically don’t much care for women and want to see the men in my Industry getting even with the women they couldn’t have when they were growing up. I strongly believe this… so we come on a woman’s face or somewhat brutalize her sexually: we’re getting even for their lost dreams. I believe this. I’ve heard audiences cheer me when I do something foul on screen. When I’ve strangled a person or sodomized a person, or brutalized a person, the audience is cheering my action, and then when I’ve fulfilled my warped desire, the audience applauds.” – Bill Margold, porn industry veteran and Free Speech Coalition board member.
  • “It might promote violence against women in the United States, but I say, ‘Good.’ I hate those bitches. They’re out of line and that’s one of the reasons I want to do this … I’m going through a divorce right now. … I hate American women.” – What pornographers really think of women (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 14 October 1999)

 

 

2010 study on popular porn films:

  • 88% of scenes contained physical aggression, including spanking, gagging, and slapping.
  • Women were overwhelmingly the targets of aggressive acts, and men the perpetrators.
  • Following instances of aggression towards women, in 95% of cases the women expressed pleasure or neutrality.

 

 

cases of porn leading children to commit sexual assualt IN THE UK ALONE:

  • February 2014: A 13-year-old boy told a UK court that he raped his 8-year-old sister after viewing pornography at his friend’s house.  The teenager told police he “decided to try it out” on his sister because she was small and “couldn’t remember stuff,” reported the Lancashire Telegraph.
  • November 2013: A different 13-year old UK boy pleaded guilty to raping an eight-year old girlwhen he was 10. A pornography addiction since age 9 was said to have played a significant role in his crimes.
  • March 2013: Two boys aged 14 and 15 admitted to a British court that they were re-enacting scenes witnessed in violent online pornography when they beat, brutalized, then raped a 14-year-old girl they had tied to a chair.
  • March 2013: A UK report found that thousands of British children had committed sexual offenses. In all, 4,562 minors – some as young as five – committed 5,028 sexual offenses over a three year period from 2009-2012. Experts blamed “easy access to sexual material.”
  • January 2012: Children’s aid and sex abuse organizations in Australia largely blamed 414 cases of children sexually abusing other children on the explosion of pornography made accessible to children.
  • August 2012: A 13-year-old Canadian boy pleaded guilty to repeatedly raping a 4-year-old boy who lived in his foster home. The boy said the idea came from watching “gay porn” on his foster parents’ home computer.
  • April 2012: A child therapist reported a case of a 13-year-old boy who raped his 5-year-old sisterafter developing a “complex fantasy world” warped by “two years of constant porn use.”

 

 

racism in porn:

  • Latinos and HispanicsPornography tends to stereotype Hispanic women as feisty, “hot and spicy Latinas”, sexy Señoritas, with a high sex drive and low impulse control. Many are portrayed as maidsillegal immigrants to the United States, or unfaithful wives. Since Latinos and Hispanics can be of any race (many are white Hispanic AmericansMestizos etc.), cultural characteristics are sometimes portrayed via iconic items like South and Central American national costumessombrerosmaracas, or Mexican dresses.
  • Asian women: Are viewed as sexually willing or submissive. Asian men are hardly portrayed in pairing with white women and not as common compared to white men with asian women porn. Asian women are mainly portrayed as the: “Dragon Ladies”, as servile “Lotus Blossom Babies”, “Innocent School Girls” in private school uniforms, “China dolls”, “Geisha girls”, war brides, or prostitutes. Japanese media have also at times sensationalistically promoted the stereotype of Japanese women overseas as “yellow cabs”.
  • Black performers: Large penis size in Black men is consistently emphasized in pornography, often by exclusively casting actors with larger than average penises such as Lexington SteeleKid BengalaJack Napier and Mandingo. Men are often treated to stereotypes of gang affiliation, working class labor, and are overrepresented in gang rape fetish films. Also, they are represented as overly aggressive and demanding, and are performing with white women. Similarly, black women are often portrayed with large breast and buttocks, or ‘booty’. They normally play a submissive role while performing with a white male.

 

 

Kid’s access to pornography:

  • Youth who look at violent x-rated material are six times more likely to report forcing someone to do something sexual online or in-person versus youth not exposed to x-rated material. [12]
  • Middle-school aged boys who view X-rated content are almost three times more likely to report oral sex and sexual intercourse than boys who do not use sexually explicit material[13]
  • A study in the southeastern U.S. found that 53 percent of boys and 28 percent of girls (ages 12-15) reported use of sexually explicit media. The Internet was the most popular forum for viewing. [14]
  • The words “sex” and “porn” rank fourth and sixth among the top ten most popular search terms. [15]
  • Roughly two-thirds (67 percent) of young men and one-half (49 percent) of young women agree that viewing pornography is acceptable.[7]
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 (87 percent) young men and 1 out of 3 (31 percent) young women report using pornography.[8]
  • Experts have warned that the rise in the viewing of pornography was implicated in a variety of problems, including a rise in the levels of STDs and teenage pregnancies.  Additionally, males aged between 12 and 17 who regularly viewed pornography had sex at an earlier stage in life and were more likely to initiate oral sex, apparently imitating what they had seen. [9] [10]
  • Internet pornography was blamed for a 20 percent increase in sexual attacks by children over three years.[6]
  • One out of three youth who viewed pornography, viewed the pornography intentionally.[1]
  • Seven out of ten youth have accidentally come across pornography online.[2]
  • Nearly 80 percent of unwanted exposure to pornography is taking place in the home (79 percent occurs in the home; 9 percent occurs at school; 7 percent other/unknown; 5 percent at a friend’s home).[3]
  • Kids experience unwanted exposure to sexual material via:[4] A link came up as a result of an innocent word search (40 percent), Clicking on a link in another site (17 percent), A pop-up (14 percent), Other (13 percent), Misspelled web address (12 percent), Don’t know (4 percent), Pictures involving animals or other strange things (10 percent)
  • Type of material youth encounter when unwanted exposure to pornography occurs:[5] Naked people (86 percent), People having sex (37 percent), Violent pictures (13 percent)
  • Nearly 74 percent of pornography websites surveyed display adult content on their homepage (accessible to anyone) before asking if the viewers are of legal age. [11]
  • American children begin consuming hardcore pronography at an average age of 11
  • Four out of five 16 year-olds regularly access pornography online
  • Findings from the Youth Internet Safety Survey indicate that 15% of 12-17 year olds have purposefully looked at x-rated material online.
  • Data from the PEW Internet and American Life Project suggest that 70% of 15-17 year old internet users accidently view pornography “very” or “Somewhat” often.

 

 

Child Pornography

  • Child pornography is a $3-billion industry. (Top Ten Reviews)
  • Child pornography is one of the fastest growing businesses online, and the content is becoming much worse.  (Internet Watch Foundation)  Internet Watch Foundation confirmed 1536 child abuse domains in 2008.
  •  The fastest growing demand in commercial websites for child abuse is for images depicting the worst type of abuse, including penetrative sexual activity involving children and adults and sadism or penetration by an animal.  58% of child sexual abuse images depict this level of abuse. (IWF, 2008)
  •  69% of all victims in child abuse images are between the ages of 0 and 10 years old. (IWF, 2008)
  •  In a study of arrested child pornography possessors, 40 percent had both sexually victimized children and were in possession of child pornography. Of those arrested between 2000 and 2001, 83 percent had images involving children between the ages 6 and 12; 39 percent had images of children between ages 3 and 5; and 19% had images of infants and toddlers under age 3 (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Child Pornography Possessors Arrested in Internet-Related Crimes: Findings fro the National Juvenile Online Victimization Study. 2005).

 

 

Your brain on porn:

  • further decline in dopamine levels
  • further decline in opioids and endorphins
  • drop-off in GABA, which is an anti-anxiety neurotransmitter
  • rise in brain stress hormones CRF and norepinephrine 
  • elevated dynorphin which inhibits dopamine and lowers your pleasure response
  • one week after quitting the reward center sprouts new nerve cell branches, which correlate with cravings to use
  • More sources on addiction to porn

 

 

Common porn addiction withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Poor concentration
  • Depression
  • Social isolation
  • Loss of libido (Can take days to manifest, and last a long time)

 

 

Adult (>18 years old) exposure to pornographic media is connected with:

  • Believing a rape victim enjoyed rape
  • Believing women suffer less from rape
  • Believing women in general enjoy rape
  • Believing a rape victim experienced pleasure and “got what she wanted”
  • Believing women make false accusations of rape
  • Believing rapist deserve less jail time
  • More acceptance of the rape myth
  • More acceptance of violence against women
  • More likely to go to a prostitute and to go more frequently
  • Increasing their estimates of how often people engage in sex with violence
  • More self-reported likelihood of forcing a women sexually
  • More self-reported likelihood of rape
  • Creating more sexually violent fantasies to get aroused
  • Engaging in more sexual harassment behaviors
  • More likelihood of forcing a woman sexually
  • More likelihood of future rape
  • Using physical coercion to have sex
  • Using verbal coercion to have sex
  • Using drugs and alcohol to sexually coerce women
  • Having engaged in rape
  • Having engaged in date rape
  • Having engaged in marital rape
  • Being an adult sex offender
  • Being a child molester
  • Being an incest offender
  • Engaging in sexual abuse of a battered spouse
  • More willingness to have sex with 13-14 year olds
  • More sexual attraction to children
  • Having sexually abused children

 

 

Life and death of a porn star:

 

 

If you don’t feel like reading:

 

 

Just links:

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Talk Amongst Yourselves: Here’s A Topic

Here’s some reading for your weekend. Some of these articles are not new, but they were new to me when I read them, and I thought they were interesting enough to share:

 

 

Image result for permit patty

*For those of you outside the US, this topic may be puzzling to you. The reason there are so many stories about this recently is because of the progress of technology. We can now clearly document the racism that Black people (and other marginalized groups) are on the receiving end of in this country. (This article lists several.)

Sadly, the only takeaway that a lot of White people get from the widely publicized police shootings of unarmed Black men, is that they can call the police, who will then come and punish us, or remove us, and there is a very clear reason that  many of these incidents have been instigated by White women. In a few of these cases, it is made  clear by the participants, that the reason they’re calling the police, is that they hope we will be killed. 

The bottom line is that White supremacy is not the sole province of White men. White women are not innocent, and have been willing, sometimes eager, participants in its practice.

https://www.damemagazine.com/2018/07/30/white-women-arent-afraid-of-black-people-they-want-pretty-power/

There’s a long history of white women harassing Black people and getting cops to arrest them. The only danger they feel is of losing their place within the white patriarchy.

 

 

 

Image result for superheroes/ gender

*This is an analysis of the types of gender roles played in superhero movies:

https://adanewmedia.org/2016/10/issue10-miller-rauch-kaplan/

This study examined full-length superhero movies to determine if there are gender differences in characters’ roles, appearances, and violence.

 

 

Image result for black superheroes

*A lot of Black superheroes are strictly small time. Its interesting that superheroes written by White men are only ever tasked with taking care of their immediate environment, which is almost always a crime- ridden neighborhood in the inner city. This is not to negate the existence of Cosmic and Planetary  superheroes, but that there are so many of them willing to forgo protecting the planet, or the galaxy, in favor of just hanging out in the ‘hood, is something I hadn’t noticed before.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/11/black-superheros/383042/

Traditionally, movies have done a curious thing with black heroes: Charge them not with saving the world, but rather with protecting their immediate, ethno-specific domains, or, in many cases, to put it bluntly, the ghetto.

 

 

 

Image result for model minority

*This has been an issue since the passing of the Civil Rights Act. Before that, Asian people had largely been vilified in the media, and by politicians, as a menace, or as not really being American. After the passing of the CRA there was a concerted effort to use the achievements of certain ethnicity of Asian Americans to make backhanded slaps at Black people, in an attempt to negate the effects of White supremacist policies on both groups.

https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/04/19/524571669/model-minority-myth-again-used-as-a-racial-wedge-between-asians-and-blacks

Since the end of World War II, many white people have used Asian-Americans and their perceived collective success as a racial wedge. The effect? Minimizing the role racism plays in the persistent struggles of other racial/ethnic minority groups — especially black Americans.

 

 

Image result for bad comedians

*I had a long rant ready about the whininess of comedians who claim political correctness has destroyed their careers, but this article states what I wanted to say clearly enough. What they are complaining about is simply what happens to older comedians who can’t adapt to the times.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0616-rabin-seinfeld-pc-20150616-story.html

Comedy increasingly is taking the form of a conversation rather than a one-way expression of ideas and information, and cranky older comedians who opt out of this dialogue risk becoming relics of an earlier era.

 

 

 

Related image

*This made me think about a lot of the art created by marginalized groups in hte US ,and how so much of it is created to uplift the self- esteem of the group. What Gadsby says she was doing in her stand-up is the exact opposite of rap music, for example. There is no such thing as self- deprecating rap music. I thought of this because I had been listening to Django Jane ,and how that is an anthem for QPoC, and the things Janelle Monae says about herself in that song, are a celebration of her strength, and identity, and it makes me wonder if Gadsby’s approach to stand-up, has more to do with being Tanzanian rather than American. or if its just her own introverted personality at work.

 Here, you have two very different women, both of them somewhere along the LGBTQ spectrum, one White and Non- American, and the other American born, and you have two very different philosophical approaches to their performances. Gadsby claims her self- deprecation was the price she paid for speaking, as if she needed permission to talk about her life, and could only do so by making herself smaller. This does not seem to be the case with Janelle, who creates art that celebrates herself. Janelle doesn’t ask permission. She is  telling the listener how wonderful she is, which is  one of the major components of a form of music that was created by an often denigrated, and marginalized group of people. Such a form of humility may have served Gadsby in the environment that produced it,  but Black Americans can’t afford to be humble.

http://observer.com/2018/08/film-crit-hulk-hannah-gadsby-rejects-the-premise/

“Do you understand what self-depreciation means when it comes from someone who already exists in the margins?” She asks, “it’s not humility, it’s humiliation.” And Gadsby was done having her very identity being a source of tension. She was done cutting herself down. She was done humiliating herself.

 

 

 

Image result for scifi disability

*I’ve watched a lot of Science Fiction and its interesting how many or how few  characters with disabilities are present, and how little accommodation is made for them. I cannot recall any stairs on Star Trek, but I also didn’t notice if other accommodations had been made for hearing, height, or sight disabilities. I’m going to have to re-watch a lot of my favorites, and make  notes.

http://www.scifipulse.net/turning-a-blind-eye-physical-disabilities-in-sci-fi-fantasy-entertainment/

https://io9.gizmodo.com/staircases-in-space-why-are-places-in-science-fiction-1827966642

Our real world is a remarkably inaccessible place. I haven’t made it to a movie theater on opening night in years without running into a plethora of issues, from broken captioning devices to nondisabled people sitting in seats for wheelchair users and their companions, to theaters that are physically inaccessible to me because of those dang steps and staircases.

 

 

*Thandie Newton, from Westworld, has a lot to say about diversity in SciFi:

 

Your character Maeve in HBO’s “Westworld” is an android or “host” in a theme park. What do you think it means to have characters of color in genre work? A lot of what’s in the mainstream doesn’t have people of color. What irritates me is that science fiction is the place where you could have us. Science fiction is a projection of a time that hasn’t even happened, so if you don’t populate that place with people of different skin tones, shame on you.

The State of the Union – TV (Pt. 55)

I’m just putting random numbers on these types of posts, at this point, since I can’t remember whatever number I used for my last State of the Union Address. But here’s a list of shows, I’ve been looking at this Summer.

Watching/Have Watched

Castle Rock (Hulu)

Image result for castle rock

I watched the first two episodes of this show. I was really excited about seeing it and the show doesn’t completely disappoint, but that’s mostly because I’m a full-on Stephen King fan who has caught a lot of the Easter eggs in the episodes, and there are quite a few, which is something entirely in keeping with the idea of a Stephen King Universe where all his stories are connected.

We start of with the small town of Castle Rock itself, where more than a few King stories take place. The episode begins with a missing little Black boy named Henry, who is found by Sheriff Pangborn eleven days later. If you remember Pangborn is the sheriff who defeats the demon from the novel Needful Things. Henry’s father went missing as well. his adoptive mother is played by Sissy Spacek, who played Carrie in the  1976 movie of the same name.

When Henry is called back to the town of Castle Rock, we discover that his mother is suffering from dementia, and she has a romantic relationship with a much older Pangborn. Henry received a mysterious call from one of the guards at Shawshank prison, after a young man was discovered in the prison’s basement levels, who asked for him by name. The prison is also under the reign of a new female warden after the bizarre suicide of the last one, who garrotted himself in his car.

So two episodes is as far as I’ve gotten, and while I’m not wowed by the mystery I do find the characters interesting, the show looks gorgeous, and atmospheric, and I also liked the understated music in the show.

Pose (FX)

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/05/pose-fx-ryan-murphy-review

Image result for pose series cast

The series just finished up its first season run and is scheduled for a second season next year. I took a brief break from the show but I was there for the season finale. Good gob! but this show brings waaaay too many feels.

One of the things I love most about this show is the shameless use of sentiment, without falling into corniness. You start to seriously care about these characters so much, and get really caught up in their lives. When they’re happy, you’re happy. When they experience disappointment, so do you. It’s a testament to the acting skills of the cast. But their lives are not tragic, and the show is not a sob story. You experience as much laughter and happiness as in any drama. The characters are complicated, messy, and human.

For example, I complained that I might not be able to get into a show where characters spent so much time being nasty to each other, but that turns out not to be the case. Yes, there are some villainous types but the show has a lot of romance and heart. After Blanca’s former mother, Elektra, from House Abundance,  gets ousted from her position, Blanca takes her in, and it is commendable for Blanca, especially when you consider that the two of them parted on such bad terms,  that Blanca treats her no different than she does any of the children of her House, by counseling her, and helping her get a job.

Blanca is rewarded for her compassion by being crowned Mother of the Year, at the local Ball, while the bitchy little characters we met in the first episode get their comeuppance with an epic dress-down from Elektra. The season ends with a dance-off  between the House of Evangelista and the House of Extravaganza, going  head to head on the ballroom floor.

There is also the side story of one her children falling in love with a married businessman, and one of Blanca’s boys falls in love with another dancer after he is accepted into  Dance school, and the two of them compete for a role in a music video. In another side story, the master of Ceremonies at the Balls puts on a performance at the hospice where his lover is dying from Aids, and later goes out on a date. The conversations in the show feel true, adult, and emotional.

I fell in love with these characters so fast, I just don’t know if my heart can take this level of shameless romanticism and drama. I’m definitely going to return for the second season of this show.

 

Preacher: Season Three (AMC)

Image result for preacher season three

Its as zany as the last season, picking up with the death of Tulip. Jessie takes her to his grandmother,a Hoodoo woman, who brings Tulip back from the dead. She says Jessie owes her for this, but I’m unsure exactly what it is she requires in payment.

Cassidy gets kidnapped by a cult run by another vampire and its hilarious because the other vampire has enthralled these goth kids into worshiping him, and he’s like a cheap, backwoods version of Lestat.

I’m not doing any in depth reviews for this show, mostly because its kinda lightweight, and is far too richly zany to put that kind of work into it.

Although its rarely laugh out loud funny, it is definitely entertaining.

Luke Cage: Season 2 (Netflix)

Image result for luke cage season two

I watched the entire season all the way through, and mostly enjoyed it. It really does still have some issues, mostly with pacing and story coherency, and should probably tone down on some of the music, because that was starting to be a bit much. But overall I liked the season.  I wasn’t as awed by this season as I was with the first, and I’m pretty sure it’s because the novelty of it has worn off some.

Frankly,  I was tuning in to see what happened to Misty Knight, after her ordeal in The Defenders, and I , and a lot of other people, have reached the conclusion that we are all ready for a Daughters of the Dragon spinoff , of Misty and Colleen Wing. The scenes between the two of them were a lot of fun, the actresses have good chemistry, and I was glad to see the writers of the show did not neglect the relationships between the women, although I was dismayed to realize that all of the Black women in the show had adversarial relationships with each other. I understood most of the reasons why they would, because they’re mostly well written characters, many of them with clear motivations, but I still think the writers should do better. Women don’t always have to be enemies for  dramatic tension.

Yes, there is a brief cameo, in one or two episodes, with Iron Fist, which happen late in the season, but I don’t feel this was a detraction from the show, and I wasn’t upset at seeing him. Like I said, a little bit of him goes a long way. I’m still not especially enthused about the second season of IF, but I am curious enough, based on how his character is much more positively depicted here. I know there are some people who are going to hate him no matter what the writers  do with him ,but I’m willing to forgive past sins if they fix his character, and this show, and The Defenders, went a long way towards almost making Danny Rand likable. I don’t actually like him. I don’t know that I will ever like him-like him, but at least I don’t dislike him. Let’s just say I’m open to liking him.

There was a new vilain called Bushmaster, who heavily reminded me of Black Panther: if T’Challa had become a junkie for the special herb which gave him his powers, and was a gang leader, rather than a good guy.  I still think the accents of some of these characters could use work, though. There are several moments of extreme horror that I could’ve done without, and we didn’t spend as much time with Luke as you’d think we would in a show that’s about him, but that’s okay because Luke is not an especially compelling personality, and Mariah Dillard is. Luke gets to fight with a lot of different characters, and that is always fun, but he’s not a very interesting person beyond his fight scenes, and the show’s attempts to add character to his character fell flat for me. His relationship with his father, and his fights with Clair didn’t feel true or believable.

Actually, you could just call the show Dillard, or something, because Mariah was one of the most awesome characters all season, and is a truly complicated villain. I’ve long ago given up on white feminist fans paying any attention to Black female characters, and I suppose I should be grateful for that, especially considering how shitty they are regarding all Black characters, in general. I think the last thing any of us want is twenty year old, suburban, white girls trying to write sexy fan fiction about Shades Alvarez. But there’s not a lot there for them anyway because while there are a few canon relationships, none of them involve White people.

Mariah is a very unconventional villain, being an older, educated, Black woman, who is also  an unstable, conniving alcoholic,  in a semi-abusive relationship with her lover, Shades Alvarez, who is many years younger than her, and thoroughly devoted to her. I  can’t even say she loves him, because Mariah is a psychopathic user, who loves no one but herself but the chemistry between them is palpable, and it really is a very sexy relationship. Mariah is also surprisingly vulnerable, and open at odd moments, which makes her deeply compelling. This was really a superior performance from Alfre Woodard, and one of her best roles ever.

There’s also a throwaway relationship between Shades and another man (Comanche) that if you’re anywhere on the LGBTQ spectrum,  will thoroughly enrage you, so you might want to skip all that.

https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/luke-cage-shades-mariah-shadymariah/

https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/luke-cage-season-2-review/?tu=dd

https://screenrant.com/marvel-iron-fist-better-luke-cage-season-2/

Killjoys (Syfy)

Killjoys has added a smidge more humor to the show, but I still have trouble with Hannah John-Kamen’s acting style. Its still annoying. I’m still surprised that people like this show. It looks great but I find the acting and plotting uneven. It’s not a bad show, but it struggles to hold my attention. I like the costumes, though ,and the guys are both reasonably handsome.

Image result for killjoys/wynonna Earp

Wynonna Earp (Syfy)

Wynona Earp started its new season. I watched the first episodes of the show and while I was not “not”  entertained, I wasn’t exactly inspired to keep watching them either. WE turned out to be mildly funny as vampires have been added to the show and Waverly’s approach to danger has always been funny. If you’re looking for a cute  litttle White girl lgbtq relationship, then this is the show for you. If you are a fan of mustaches, there’s a Doc Holliday character who is really cute.

 

I’m Not Watching But Probably Should

Killing Eve (BBC America)

I’ve heard so much about this show, and these curious gifs keep popping up on  my dashboard. One day I’m actually going to get around to watching this. and I’m gonna be wowed, because I really do like Sandra Oh, and I heard she got some award noms out of this. From all the meta  and gifs I’ve seen, I got the impression that this show was a female version of the Hannibal series, with its lowkey same sex relationship vibes, between an officer of the law, and a deranged psychopath. Since I’m a big fan of Hannibal , I feel I at least need to give this a looky-loo.

The Bold Type (Freefrom)

I heard there was some great LGBTQ rep in this show, between two young women, that’s being well and fairly treated,  and this is  another show that people insist on making gifs of, and sending them across my Tumblr dashboard. One day I may or may not look at this. It does involve some very young people, and I usually avoid shows that star a bunch of very young, people, so I’m dubious. Not every show is for everyone.

Dear White People (Netflix)

I keep hearing good things about this show, but once again it stars some very young people, and I’m not one of those people who is sentimental about my college years, so imma pass on this one.

Yeah…No!

Snowfall/ Power

I know people are watching these shows, but shows about Black crime are not to my taste, and I already got my quota of that subject from Luke Cage. If Black crime stories (ala New Jack City) are to your tastes,  and you’re not watching these, then you need to hop to it because they look gorgeous.

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I’m working on several of those longform essays you guys seem to like. The use of setting in movies, a trip in the wayback machine to some forgotten  TV series, the personalities of Goodfellas according to MBTI, an examination of the trope of the retired killer, an examination of The Thing, Eastern Promises, and some that are little more than ideas I hope to flesh out at some point.