The History of Blackface

https://www.vox.com/2014/10/29/7089591/dont-get-whats-wrong-with-blackface-heres-why-its-so-offensive

 

 

 

 

@@ My biggest point is this, however:

Megyn Kelly lost her job over this shit. There are other people whose jobs are considering firing them for their infractions against decency and good taste, so maybe think twice about your shit this Halloween.

Having been told that your behavior is hurtful and offensive, and continuing to still commit that behavior, says a lot about the kind of person you are.

You are not a Good Person!

From now on, White allies can approach this kind of behavior just like that. Explain to them that they’ve been told again and again that they are hurting Black people with their behavior, and need no more explanation beyond that we have asked them to stop doing it. If they insist on doing it, or making excuses for why its okay, then you’ve just found out what kind of White person you’re dealing with.

If you continue to hurt someone  after you’ve been repeatedly asked to stop, it makes you a bully.

And you are not a nice person.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Tumblr Discussions #167

 *Sometimes you get some interesting discussions to eavesdrop on over at Tumblr. This one is about how the western ideas of approaching the rest of the world  always seem to depend on conquering and collecting other countries, and simply stealing the resources, rather than relying on trade.
People often forget that some five hundred years of history, after the fall of Rome, seemed to have consisted of endless warfare between the various city-states, that came into existence afterwards, and when they finished warring among themselves, they began to compete with each other for who could gather up most of the rest of the world and own it.
It almost seems like colonization, genocide, slavery, and conquest were the hideous byproducts of various European nations competing among themselves, to prove who was the  more superior group of White people.
What’s  galling is, while engaging in this behavior ,Europeans managed to displace their barbarity onto the backs of the people they conquered and destroyed, as a reason for conquering and destroying them. (Sounds familiar doesn’t it?)
What’s sad about this is that most White Westerners cannot conceive of any other way of approaching the rest of the world, except through  dominance and submission. It is a philosophy that finds its way into everything from entertainment to politics.
  doublehamburgerjack
It’s really hard for people to understand that everyone had boats, exploration, and trade interactions without the same level of murder, colonization, and violence that the Europeans did. It’s really hard for people to get that.

 ami-angelwings
This is important for the knowledge/history aspect, but also because of what was said above, that exploration/seafaring/technological advancement does not automatically mean conquest, colonization, and genocide.  It’s one of those myths that an annoyingly large amount of people pass around to justify white supremacy: that everybody wants to conquer and wipe out everybody else, and that white people just got the technology and exploration level up first to do it.  They like this myth for several reasons: 1) it frames genocide, slavery, conquest, etc, as natural results of human development, SOMEBODY would have eventually done it regardless 2) it frames evil acts as “human nature”, it implies that the victims of those acts would have done them if they could, and that the people doing it were only acting on “nature” 3) it implies that because white people did these things therefore white people must have had the highest technological level and 4) because white people had the highest technological level therefore white people deserved their place in the world as conquerers and colonizers and enslavers.

Of course none of this is true, but it’s something our society likes to believe and the narrative is distributed through “common knowledge” and through our media, where non-white cultures in “historical” dramas are framed as “primitive” or warlike or both, and all the various dystopia fiction where “the oppressed become the oppressors” and what not (i.e. everybody wants to conquer everybody else, so SOMEBODY has to be on top).

@@

*I want to get rid of the argument about “Historical Accuracy” when it comes to defending lack of diversity in fantasy worlds. That concept needs to be taken out back, and killed with fire, because I no longer want to hear that PoC did not contribute  to the European historical record, and that  somehow has relevance for their existence in fantasy worlds, that are based on particular European time periods.

“To put it yet another way, in my country where Dukes are actually a thing, there are a grand total of 30 (6 members of the Royal family, 24 others), and while the amount of Duchies in the Kingdom has varied a bit over the years, this number has remained relatively stable.  By contrast, although I don’t have access to hard census data for the 19thcentury, Google reliably informs me that there were 2,651,939 people in London in 1851. And, if we take the extremely conservative estimate that only 0.1% of them were people of colour, that means that in the mid-19th century there were 2650 POCs in London compared to about 30 Dukes in the whole country.

So, from a certain perspective, a historical romance about a person of colour set in England in the mid-19th century is 88.3 times more plausible than one about a Duke. But because we’re used to seeing stories about Dukes in the 19th century and we aren’t used to seeing stories about people who aren’t white or heterosexual in the 19th century,  stories about the absolutely tiny number of high ranking members of the landed aristocracy seem natural and normal to us while stories about the proportionally much larger number of marginalised people living in England at the time feel implausible or disorientating, even though they’re actually more reflective of the lives of real people.”

-Alexis Hall, Obligatory RITA post (with added mu

 

@@

*This is about the devaluation of art done by women, and the prioritization of female nude art, created by, and for, a male audience. Bet you never gave this one much thought before, have you? Hell, I studied art for two decades, and it never occurred to me that the value of certain types of art is biased in favor of the male gaze.

http://anewdomain.net/paint-naked-women-male/

Could the reason for 83 percent of the New York Metropolitan Museum’s nudes being female have anything to do with it being run predominately by men? And who collects art?  Rich people, right? And who is rich enough to collect art?

@@

*This particular discussion highlights how  fashion does not exist in a vacuum. Clothing is just as political as any other part of our culture from hairstyles to music. This also ties into something discussed in an earlier post, about how, before the Civil Rights Movement, juvenile delinquency was coded as being White, (before that it was Italian and Latino) was heavily romanticized, and was almost never associated with Black teenagers. After the Civil Rights Act was passed, juvenile delinquency (and violence) became associated with Black and Brown youth exclusively, (reaching new heights during the nineties, with the invention of the Super-Predator.)

Greaser was a derogatory term for a Mexican in what is now the U.S. Southwest in the 19th century. The slur likely derived from what was considered one of the lowliest occupations typically held by Mexicans, the greasing of the axles of wagons; they also greased animal hides that were taken to California where Mexicans loaded them onto clipper ships (a greaser). It was in common usage among U.S. troops during the Mexican-American War.

why are greaser aesthetics still used to depict “bad boys” in art and media, when it hasn’t been that way since the 50s. this is a real mystery, i’m a serious scientist.

And the response:

 

it’s a so frustrating because greasers were originally  Mexicans or other latinxs, or Italians – either by subculture reclaiming, or slur. “Greasers” started out as the object of white fear.

Ethnically, original greasers were mostly composed of mostly Italian Americans in the Northeastern United States and Chicanos in the Southwest. Since both of these peoples were mostly olive-skinned, the “greaser” label assumed a quasi-racial status that implied an urban lower class masculinity and delinquency. This development led to an ambiguity in the racial distinction between poor Italian Americans and Puerto Ricans in New York City in the 1950s and 1960s.[6] Greasers were also perceived as being predisposed to perpetrating sexual violence, stoking fear among middle class males and arousal among middle class females.[8]

What most people remember is NOT the actual era of the greasers, but instead the 60′s and 70′s “sanitization” of who they were, why they were stereotyped against, and why they were used as villains.

Hell, before greaser was ever recognized as a “subculture” it was explicitly used as a derogatory term against mexicans. (That link references The Greaser Act, and lots of Hollywood movies which used the word.)

so before the 40′s-50′s, greaser was heavily used to portray a racist stereotype of a Mexican/Chicano man as violent/aggressive. (at least in media). This term also got used against some other latinxs in general, as well as Italians and sometimes Greeks. At least in hollywood this “greaser” type promoted mexicans as bad/dangerous and while also promoting latin lover stereotypes:

The Mexican Government soon objected to Hollywood’s portrayal of its citizens as “bandits and sneaks” and threatened to ban all films produced by companies which offended its people. This 1922 threat caused screenwriters to treat their neighbors to the south with more care. The “greaser” swiftly lost his Mexican nationality in the attempt to diffuse potential complaints, but his ghost still haunted new screenplays which concerned Hispanic characters.

Clever subterfuges often placed an unnamed “greaser” in a new locale. Rather than use the name of an actual country and risk offending its inhabitants, screenwriters began to create mythical cities and nations. “The Dove” (1928) provided an obvious example. The film concerned Don Jose Maria y Sandoval (Noah Beery), who considered himself “the bes’ damn caballero in Costa Roja.” Costa Roja, as the title cards explained, was situated in the Mediterranean!

The flimsy guise fooled scarcely anyone. The Times critic commented: “Taken by and large, Jose is perhaps a screen character to which the Mexican government might have objected, for he is greedy, sensuous, boastful, cold-blooded, irritable, and quite a wine-bibber, but he does dress well. He hates to have his luncheon spoiled by the noisy victim of a firing squad.”

(movie image, and its sound remake)

those images don’t look super like what you’d think of as “greaser” subculture, but…when you go forwards a decade or two, and then look at the actual people:

Zoot Suit(er) after arrest during the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots in LA. The Anglo police officer is inspecting his hair.

Wikipedia mentions that the Mexican American community was then…investigated to see if they had ties to the Nazis. (Yeah.)

On June 21, 1943, the State Un-American Activities Committee, under state senator Jack Tenney, arrived in Los Angeles with orders to “determine whether the present Zoot Suit Riots were sponsored by Nazi agencies attempting to spread disunity between the United States and Latin-American countries.” Although Tenney claimed he had evidence the riots were “[A]xis-sponsored”, no evidence was ever presented to support this claim. […] In late 1944, ignoring the findings of the McGucken committee and the unanimous reversal of the convictions by the appeals court in the Sleepy Lagoon case on October 4, the Tenney Committee announced that the National Lawyers Guild was an “effective communist front.”[15][27]

so that 1940′s look becomes this over time:

three Cholos showing off their outfits (1950′s). why? because zoot suits were deemed horrifically unamerican and “wasteful” during WWII.

but then ofc bitch ass racist white boys and motorcyles co-opted the look, add in a little bit of Travolta white washing of the radical pushback against racism in the origins of this stuff, and now we’re here.

 

@@

I have been wondering about the depiction of Tony Stark in the MCU vs. the comic books. The comic book version of Tony has at least some redeeming qualities, much like the version in the Iron Man Trilogy. He’s not a great character in the trilogy, but he’s less awful than in  The Avengers movies, for example.

When Tony is depicted in other movies in the MCU, besides his own, he’s often written as a callous, misogynist, asshole, who is thoroughly unlikable. For example, I got the impression that the Russo Brothers deeply dislike Tony Stark, because he doesn’t come off looking good in Civil War, at all, and even manages to look  several degrees worse in Spiderman: Homecoming.

https://wordpress.com/posts/my/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com?s=captain

A lot of what this guy says about Tony’s lack of moral center, I already talked about, in an earlier post, comparing him to Steve Rogers.  In that post I expressed some doubts about my assessment of Tony’s character, and  its nice to know I wasn’t the only person getting that take.

 

This was something I specifically stated in my post:

@@

*I have always wondered about this narrative, being put forth by the media, that these killers deserve sympathy because they were victims of a society that didn’t understand them. It turns out that they are, just as I suspected, mediocre, entitled ,white boys, who go on killing sprees because the world refuses to worship them for being the special snowflakes they believe themselves to be.

I like how she ties this into the racial aspect, where white men receive sympathy for killing others, (and the benefit of the doubt), but Black men who kill…don’t. 

Also read up on the topic of “Wound Collectors, which is a fascinationg insight into how some mass killer’s minds work. Just about every mass killer, according to many of the writings they have left behind, seem to fit this dynamic.

These individuals use these wrongs, slights, or wounds, to then justify their beliefs or behaviors, or to help them deal with their own psychological or social distress. What is the definition of a wound collector or wound collecting?            
Wound collecting is the conscious and systematic collection and preservation of transgressions, violations, social wrongs, grievances, injustice, unfair treatment, or slights of self and others, for the purpose of  nourishing, fortifying, or justifying a malignant ideology, furthering hatred, satisfying a pathology, or for exacting revenge
Apr 7, 2013

 

More on the point about Columbine: Eric Harris was actually a relatively popular kid.  Not with the “popular kids” but, when it came to the more obscure cliques in the school, Harris was actually relatively well liked even for a kid who was, as was stated, an ACTUAL psychopath.  Dylan Klebold was less popular, but only because he was more of a follower who mostly just wanted to hang around Harris.

Neither one of the Columbine shooters was bullied.  They literally WERE the bullies.

 

Klebold’s own mother has been vocally debunking the narrative that they were bullied and “the real victims” for years. Her book, “A Mother’s Reckoning” is worth reading. It counters everything in the media. Kid was well off, wanted for nothing, wasn’t abused, neglected or bullied. What he was was radicalized by Harris, a neo-Nazi.

And just as “Walk Up” types don’t suggest showing compassion for poor Black or brown kid at risk of joining a gang, they don’t acknowldge that white radicalization is the root of a lot of America’s problems, more so than non-Westen radicalization that is readily accepted as dangerous.

Telling kids they should be kinder to the creepy kid who does Nazi salutes in the hallway is in fact making them more susceptible to radicalization. “Walk Up” is not only misguided, racist, misogynist and ableist, it makes things worse. Painting the Columbine shooters as the real victims set off the era of school shootings, and the more people call for more empathy toward angry white men who fit the profile (and again, in many cases these kids are actual neo-Nazis), the worse it gets.

 

Do your research properly or don’t have an opinion.

“According to Lee (2013), there are two leading causes of school shootings: bullying (87%), as well as both non-compliance and side effects from psychiatric drugs (12%). Most school shooters claimed or left evidence behind indicating that they were victims of severe and long-term bullying. The majority of bullying victims experienced feelings of humiliation, which resulted in thoughts of suicide or revenge (Lee, 2013). Additionally, of those school shooters who had been prescribed psychiatric medications, 10% displayed medication non-compliance (failed to take drugs prescribed). Many school shooters who were taking psychiatric drugs for their disorder experienced side effects of the drugs prior to carrying out a violent act (Lee, 2013). In fact, there have been 22 drug regulatory warnings on psychiatric drugs citing effects of mania, hostility, violence, and even homicidal ideations (Lee, 2013). There have been at least 27 school Ideas and Research You Can Use: VISTAS 2015 4 shootings committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, which has resulted in 162 wounded and 72 students and/or faculty killed (Lee, 2013). However, there has yet to be a federal investigation in the United States on the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of school shooting.“

American Counseling Association

 

That 2013 data completely ignores the rise of white radicalism over the past five years. I read through the link, they didn’t even include rates of known white supremacy or radicalization. 76% of the attackers were white (with a 8% gap where race isn’t specified) according to their data, 99% were male and many left “cryptic messages,” a detail typical of neo Nazi mass killers like Eric Harris and Dylan Roof. That they didn’t analyze possible radicalization was a pretty major oversight.

Angry young white men believe they are the most persecuted, it’s not a surprise that attackers frame themselves as bullying victims. There’s a more a accurate term for it that hadn’t yet been coined in ‘13: wound-collectors.

In essence these are individuals who go out of their way to collect social slights, historical grievances, injustices, unfair or disparate treatment, or wrongs—whether real or imagined (Dangerous Personalities (link is external) 2014 Rodale Publishing)

At some point, we’re gonna have to stop pretending they’re “fighting back.” (X)

@@

Hellotailor (who I love btw! Please check out their website where they discuss the meaning of clothes and fashion in various movie franchises.), caught a lot of shit for writing this about Ready Player One. I don’t dislike the movie (it looks hella fun, and it is Spielberg!), but that doesn’t  mean they’re wrong.

Ready Player One could be the most hated movie of 2018. Considering the fact that it’s a Spielberg film with relatively respectable reviews, that’s quite an achievement. But like Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s based on a bestselling book that lends itself well to embarrassing viral quotes. Ready Player One has come to represent a certain kind of toxic fanboy mentality, and no amount of positive reviews can change that now.

At this point, the film’s quality is almost irrelevant to the backlash. Opponents are going after Ready Player One’s basic concept, because it’s such a perfect illustration of Big Bang Theory-style geek culture and its obsession with masturbatory trivia.

It simultaneously caters to the idea that white male nerds are underdog heroes, while proving that they’re actually a dominant force in Hollywood.

[READ MORE]

More Tumblr Discussions For Your Weekend

*Recently Munroe Bergdorf, a transgender DJ and model, was fired from her position at L’Oreal, for some statements she made about the foundations of  American and British racism. Statements that were taken entirely out of context by the British newrag, The Daily Mail.

Here’s her full statement:

There’s a great irony involved in a company attempting to make money off token efforts at diversity, firing one of its spokespeople for speaking out against racism, out of fear of what bigoted White people might think about the company. (In other words, performative allyship for money.) Then again, its L’Oréal, and I never put much stock in their efforts at diversity in the first place, or in the efforts of most businesses that try to attract my dollar this way. This is a company, that for decade, didn’t seem to want dark skinned people buying any of their skin careproducts, since they didn’t care to make any products for them, so I’m not surprised that they’ve issued a statement saying that Bergdorf does not represent the views of their company.

Well, where’s the lie?

 

And the response:

L’Oréal’s recent layoff sends a telling message about white supremacy

Anthony J. Williams

Looking backmakeup brands have strategically shut out women of color since their inception, particularly women with darker skin tones. This is not news, nor should it come as a surprise, as film was also built for white people. So in an effort to “champion diversity,” and potentially even make up for years of anti-Blackness, L’Oréal Paris casts a Black woman in their YoursTruly True Match diversity campaign.

Where they took a “risk” on her braids, they were rewarded by the potential of kudos by hiring a Black woman who is perceived as not “too Black” due to her lighter complexion. We know by now that dark skinned Black women are villainized, even when they’re FLOTUS. Where they took a risk in hiring a Black woman for a historically white company, the benefit was the accolades they would receive from GLAAD and mainstream media for hiring a Black trans woman, as opposed to a Black cis woman.

Continue reading “More Tumblr Discussions For Your Weekend”

Tumblr Discussions on Race

Just putting these numbers out here. Actually, I think this is may be from 2014, but really, it doesn’t make much difference. Hollywood talks a good game but is really, really slow to change. I think it takes so long because Hollywood is this big unwieldy ocean liner, and most of the power players on it consider themselves to be above using social media, and interacting  with the public. I think most of them consider that to be the actor’s job, and disdain listening to the public themselves. I think if the ones calling the shots in Hollywood do hear about social issues regarding their movies, it’s probably  second hand/hearsay. (and the ones who do hear about it, just make excuses for their laziness.)

“You’ve just very bravely cast a white person in a role and people are being very critical of it. Here’s how to handle that backlash as poorly as possible.”

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

I’ve noticed that the television creators are much more likely to interact with audiences at Cons, and on social media, than the film/casting directors, and money lenders of Hollywood. The creators of television are just much more intertwined with their audiences, and can know what their audiences think about their product, almost in real time.

For example, the creators of Arrow were on social media that first season, probably just gauging reactions to the show. But I noticed a marked change in the show from the beginning to the end of that first season. The show improved tremendously, and I think many of those improvements were based on the critiques they saw in social media. That’s how fast the creators were able to react to audience reactions. Unlike with movies, the creators for TV don’t have to wait until a show’s run is over before finding out what an audience thinks about it.

I’m not saying that television content creators don’t fuck up, (HBO we’re looking at you!) or that there isn’t an element of racism involved in Hollywood’s decision making process. Just that, in Hollywood, change takes a hell of a lot longer to be implemented because so many of these factors seem to work well enough together to delay progress. To the rest of us it just looks like a truculent inability to move forward.

From the Tumblr: 

Hollywood sticks to the script: Films aren’t more inclusive, despite a decade of advocacy 

The report “Inequality in 900 Popular Films,” released today, from Smith and the Media, Diversity & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at USC Annenberg, reveals how little top movies have changed when it comes to the on-screen prevalence and portrayal of females, underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, the LGBT community and individuals with disabilities.

“The deficits we see on screen are worse behind the camera,” said Smith. Out of the 1,006 directors hired on the 900 films studied, just 4.1% were females. Only 5.6% of the directors were Black or African American and 3% were Asian or Asian American. Three Black or African-American women and two Asian women worked as directors across the 900 movies. “When we look intersectionally at directors, that’s where we see just how exclusionary Hollywood is when it comes to the hiring process,” said Smith. “The image of a female director seems to be that of a White woman.”

 @@ 

 

And riding on the point of that last essay, there’s this one,  in response to  another essay/rant that, basically, blames identity politics, and call-out- culture, for why certain TV shows fail.  Essentially, that person was trying to blame the fans of color for the failure of certain shows. Yeah, that’s not it!

This essay sure sounds like it’s making a lot of sense, but it’s predicated on a bunch of false presumptions.

I agree that hypercritical dogpiling call-out culture is bad. It makes fandom a toxic environment.

Here’s where I find fault in this argument:

Violent fandom backlash/hypercriticism/dogpiling does not actually get shows cancelled, nor does it discourage the creation of future diverse media.

Lord, sometimes I wish it got shows cancelled.

But in reality, when you run the numbers, angry scary fans have a negligible effect on the success or failure of a diverse show.

Shows with a ton of discourse are usually quite successful. Supernatural’s been embroiled in fandom backlash/outcry its entire run and I’ve lost count of how many seasons it has.

Okay but SPN’s not especially diverse, so let’s go to my next example. Speaking of shows I can’t believe are still on the air, Teen Wolf (a show with a non-white lead and numerous LGBT characters) is SIX MOTHERFUCKING SEASONS LONG and fans have been ranting and raving about how shitty and problematic it is since the beginning of season 3 (I myself was one of its loudest and most savage critics back in the day).

Sleepy Hollow was a diverse show that suffered a lot of fandom backlash prior to cancellation. I suppose one might argue that the cancellation was a result of the backlash.

But consider – Sleepy Hollow’s fridged it’s black female lead, Abbie Mills, at the end of its 2nd season, shortly after, The 100 fridged it’s wlw female lead’s primary love interest mid season 3.

There was a shitte tonne of *intense* fandom drama surrounding Lexa’s fridging in season 3 of The 100. Every vaguely liberal entertainment news outlet had something to say about “Hollywood’s dead lesbian problem.” A lot of wlw fans wrote scathing rants and swore off the show.

In comparison, fandom was downright quiet about Abby’s fridging. In fact, the very small handful of posts I read criticizing the writers of Sleepy Hollow made a point of also criticizing fandom’s white feminists for their ‘deafening silence’ with regard to Abbie’s death.

Consequently The 100 just got renewed for season 5. Meanwhile,  Sleepy Hollow is as dead as a doornail.

Seems to me that silence does a better job of killing shows than any amount of screaming and ranting.

.

Here’s what actually causes diverse shows to fail:

1) Old white men in power.

@temporaldecay you want to talk revenue? Perhaps you’d be surprised to learn capitalism is not the be all/end all of a tv show/film’s success as people often assume.

For example, we know that movies with diverse casts are more lucrative, yet the industry continues to churn out all-white media. Why? Nepotism. White execs bring in white producers who find white directors to tell white stories and cast white actors.

They keep doing this, even though financially speaking, it’s self-sabotage.

Teen Titans was the most popular show on Cartoon Network when it was canceled because it appealed to an audience (of girls) that wasn’t the intended target audience (boys) and the marketing team didn’t like how this messed up their gendered merchandising strategy. You can read all the details [here]

Which brings me to the next item on the list:

2) Bad marketing (combined with the aforementioned institutionalized bigotry)

There’s a great essay called Shut The Fuck up Marvel that explains in detail the problematic economics of the comics industry – TL&DR, diverse comics are failing not because of fickle and hypercritical fans, but rather because Marvel’s entire marketing strategy is so flawed that fans don’t even find out about diverse comics until they’ve already been axed.

The same is true of a lot of diverse television.

Wonder Woman got hardly any marketing. I didn’t see trailers for the movie. It managed to go viral anyway through word of mouth, and through the inherent publicity of being the first big blockbuster superhero film revolving around a female lead, but it’s the exception that proves the rule.

Still Star-Crossed, a Shondaland period romance/drama based on pro-fanfiction for Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet was recently canceled due to low viewership. The show got next to no marketing. The few people who managed to hear about it from tumblr couldn’t even figure out when it was airing due to the network changing the time slot twice within the first 4 episodes.

Similarly, Sense8 season 2 was under-marketed, as was The Get Down. I must have seen about 8 million ads for that garbage suicide apologia show Netflix has been hawking.

Networks don’t want to market diverse shows. They assume diverse shows will magically sell themselves, and then blame fans when they don’t.

3) Appealing to too small of a niche – Novelty vs. Variety

Consider Agent Carter – this show catered to a niche within a niche within a niche – a period noir drama, that was also a science fiction. Lack of POC meant it had trouble attracting POC as audience members. Lack of LGBTQ rep (queerbaiting doesn’t count) meant it had trouble holding on to LGBTQ fans.

The only audience Agent Carter seemed to want to actively market itself to was ‘straight white feminist-identifying women who like retro noir sci-fi’ – that’s so specific. Too niche of an audience to attract the kind of audience a network like ABC expects for its prime time shows.

Compare that to How to Get Away With Murder – which has a little something for everyone. Ensemble cast, multiple sexual orientations, multiple cultural backgrounds and ethnicities, people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds – Shonda Rhimes knows how to cast a big net.

Or Brooklyn 99 – similar kinda deal.

Having a one member of a marginalized demographic in a lead role is a novelty. And novelty’s good for getting people to watch your pilot, but it wears off quickly. People come for novelty, but they stay for representation. I don’t mean representation as an abstract concept. I mean people continue watching a show when they find a character that they personally identify with and relate to. The more character variety, the greater the number of audience members who feel consistently well-represented.

.

Discourse is not killing diversity.

This is a lie networks and showrunners tell fans to scare us into silence. They sabotage their own shows and then blame fans for being “too critical” or “too entitled.”

And we buy this bullshit. We buy it and we sell it to other fans. We write big long essays telling fellow fans to count their blessings and stfu.

Fuck that noise.

 

@@

This one is about how Blade began this whole superhero movie nonsense, that we all love so much. Yes, I blame Blade too. Frankly, even though I was a big Marvel Comic book reader, I had never even heard of this character before the movie was released, but I’m always gonna stan for that first movie, which still holds up very well to this day, and despite that Wesley Snipes is something of an asshole.

I personally consider Blade, and The Crow, to be two of the Blackest superhero movies of the 90s. (I will fight ‘chu!)

And that’s the real difference between Blade and the superhero franchises that have followed. Blade was never a big-name character in the first place. So there wasn’t a whole lot of retro-geek enthusiasm associated with the character. But more than that, Blade, the film, simply isn’t backwards-looking.

There’s none of the Greatest Generation boosterism that clings to the Captain America franchise, for example. Nor do we get from Blade the home front 50s stay-at-home mom-with-kids meme that pops up incongruously in Age of Ultron when we get to meet Hawkeye’s secret, perfect family.

Instead, Blade is deliberately, defiantly hip. Motherhood isn’t idealized; on the contrary, one of the queasier moments of the film involves Blade ruthlessly offing his feral, incestuously sexual, evil vampire mom. If there is nostalgia, it’s for blaxploitation’s up-to-the-minute cool.

The movie’s first grinding, sweaty, sex-and-blood drenched night club scene hasn’t dated at all. Nor has the Afrocentric incense store where Blade buys his formula fix, nor the black, brotherhood embrace between that store’s owner and the hero. There’s a notable lack of cell phones, of course, and the computer graphics prophesying the coming of the blood god look rather dated. But there’s little question that, as much as it’s able, the film is looking forward not back.

And part of the reason it’s looking forward, I think, is race. Blade—unlike most superhero films—is set in a meaningfully integrated world. That Afrocentric shop suggests, quietly but definitely, that Blade is part of a black community and that that community matters to him. One of his two crime-fighting companions Dr. Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright), is also black.

The diverse cast, and the acknowledgement of diverse communities, is part of why the film still feels and looks relevant. Here, after all, is a narrative that was fulfilling the call for more diverse superhero movies before superhero movies were even a thing.

But beyond that, Blade makes clear the extent to which nostalgia and whiteness are inextricably bound together in so much of the superhero genre. Retooling old, old pop-culture heroes[1] means, inevitably, dreaming about white saviors and about a time when white people were the only ones who were allowed to be heroes.

THE WHITE SUPERHERO FAD STARTED, CRAZY ENOUGH, WITH BLADE

[1]

A lot of us have talked a lot about how Blade started the current superhero domination in Hollywood and how current films forget that; and though it’s important to ask what kinds of behind-the-scenes decisions have caused that, I like this analysis about how Blade is fundamentally different from what we’re getting today and how that film is, in many ways, incompatible with today’s Ant-Men and Men of Steel.

 

@@

Another argument for why HBO’s new idea for a show, Confederate, (about an alternative world in which the South won the Civil War), is a truly bad idea:

blackfemalescientist

I’ve been thinking a lot about Confederate, the upcoming project by the creators of game of thrones. I’m not alone in actively hating the idea for this, but it took me a while to figure out why the idea for this show bothers me so much. Part of it is the current political climate, part of it is the idea being not nearly as new or interesting as the creators think it is (sci fi and fantasy is full of stories about chattel slavery in more modern/technologically advanced societies), and part of it is just me not trusting these two guys with this kind of story.

But what it really comes down to for me is this: even if I could buy that the south won the war, I do not buy that black people, in a majority black country, would be content to live in the only slave-holding society in the world for another 150 years. And the fact that the creators of this show can imagine that says a lot about how they feel about black people and their agency.

Like to put that idea in perspective, black people waged a successful national campaign to end jim crow in a majority white country and it didn’t take them 150 years. Haiti rebelled in 1804, and while we can talk current economic conditions (and how frace is primarily to blame for that), what you can’t say is that chattel slavery exists there now. Like what world are you living in where black people aren’t resourceful, smart or motivated enough to end chattel slavery 150 years after the entire world decided that maybe chattel slavery was doing too much.

The entire premise doesn’t work as alternative history because its not an alternate world, its a complete fantasy – a fantasy where black people are not only subjugated but incapable of taking steps to end that subjugation. And that leads to all the “who is this for” and “why would you do this” questions that smarter people than me have talked a lot about.

 

And here’s my man, Ta Nehisi Coates, laying it out, in his own very eloquent way, why the writers of Game of Thrones, and HBO, need to catch some hands:

HBO’s Confederate takes as its premise an ugly truth that black Americans are forced to live every day: What if the Confederacy wasn’t wholly defeated?

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/08/no-confederate/535512/

Of course, any time Black people hold discourse on a subject that directly affects our lives, you’ve got those white people crawling out from under the baseboards, to defend this wtf*ery, because for them Black life is  no more than an intellectual exercise, and we should  get over it, because it’s messing up their ability to be entertained by our misery.

 

@@

This is one of the most cogent arguments I’ve ever read against financial inequality. I also had no idea of the history of the game of Monopoly.

We played this game all the time in our house. My Mom was, naturally, the Banker, and we always played it Socialist style,  I guess, with everyone getting the same amount of money, and being treated the same, following the same rules. Of course she always won, up until we were teenagers, and started learning more about how to handle money,  like how to plan ahead, and how to delay gratification. 

Monopoly isn’t maybe the best way to learn about money, but it does teach you something about how financial systems work.

So let me get this straight, in Monopoly if you give one player more money to start out it’s “unfair” but if you do it in real life it’s “capitalism”?

 

You know what, I’m going to tell you guys a story.

In my Sociology class a few semesters ago, our prof had us break off into groups and, much to our naive joy, began distributing Monopoly boards! We had no idea what was going on but yay! Games! Of course, once our group, and a number of others, got the board we began to work at setting up and distributing the money…

until suddenly our prof told us to put the money down and pick up the dice.

“Roll the dice and sort yourselves from highest to lowest,” our teacher commanded.  “Now, the highest number is the upper class. The next one is upper middle class.  The next two or three are middle class. The last person is in poverty.“

Well, as the person who rolled a two this was startling and not wholly welcome news.

From that point the game changed entirely. We had to hand out the money so that the “upper class” had this fucking mountain, and then less for upper middle, even less for middle, and I didn’t get any triple digit bills. We would all collect different amounts from passing go as well.

The biggest change though? Going to jail. Upper class didn’t. Period. Upper middle class could go but they only had to stay for one turn or they could immediately pay their way out. Middle class had some pretty easy guidelines for when they could pay to get out. As lower class, it was really easy for me to wind up in jail and REALLY hard to get out. But since I was working with so little money when everyone else had so much I was in jail all the time because there was no “game over”.  If I couldn’t pay I had to go to jail for a certain period of time. I had to take out loans with interest I could never pay back just to get out only to wind up back in it again, rolling dice turn after turn hoping to be able to get out.

It was simultaneously the most enlightening and most awful game I had ever played. I was bored and frustrated and a little terrified about it all. And it wasn’t only me. I would never win, I sort of accepted this, but it was amazing how the middle classes reacted as well.  They were stressed. Because they were always that close to either being able to one-up the upper class or from crashing into poverty with me. They had to fight constantly just to stay in the middle.

(I should also mention that the upper class player in one group felt so bad for the lower income players that they ended up overhauling their entire game and creating a “socialist” society instead. I’m not sure how our teacher felt about that one.)

 

Worth stressing this is entirely in the spirit of the original designer’s aims for Monopoly.

Monopoly’s  original form of The Landlord Game which was explicitly designed to teach people about the unfairness of rent systems. To quote from the wikipedia entry, just as it’s the easiest source to hand…

Magie designed the game to be a “practical demonstration of the present system of land grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences”.[2]She based the game on the economic principles of Georgism, a system proposed byHenry George, with the object of demonstrating how rents enrich property owners and impoverish tenants. She knew that some people could find it hard to understand why this happened and what might be done about it, and she thought that if Georgist ideas were put into the concrete form of a game, they might be easier to demonstrate.

When the usual suspects start making “don’t bring politics into games” noises, I roll my eyes pretty hard. They have no idea of the history of the form.

 

 

@@

This final topic speaks to the idea of accurate Representation from a Historical perspective. One of my biggest pet peeves is the bigoted argument against diversity and inclusion, in Fantasy media, coupled with the erasure of PoC from  Historical narratives, and not just because such an argument is irrelevant to a discussion of Fantasy based world-building. 

As an amateur Historian, I’m sick and  tired of seeing the argument about Historical accuracy, from the mouths of lazy, sometimes bigoted, individuals, who have done no research, who have only ever gotten their ideas about what History was like, from various movies and TV shows, trying to uphold the pop culture status quo, by saying we don’t belong in Fantasy environments.

I have found that even the  most well intentioned people are deeply, deeply, ignorant of History, having gotten most of their ideas about it, from whitewashed movies, television shows, and History classes, in which the contributions (sometimes even the presence) of PoC  are erased. When you consider that the vast majority of the world is made up of PoC (Chinese, for example) and that those who are most definitely considered to be “White”  Europeans (whatever that may mean) made up only about 11% of the world’s population in 2010, and by 2060 are set to become less than 10% of the world’s population, I find it more than a little hinky that such  people would argue for Historical accuracy. 

And now we have the Alt-Right attempting to lay claim to this same argument  in an attempt to bolster their racist  beliefs that PoC contributed nothing to Historical narratives, and that all of the humanity’s  major contributions to Literature, Science, and Art, were only done by White men.

Part of the problem is that Historians need to make clear that PoC were History. We were everywhere, not just invented in certain eras, and trotted out when White men needed to conquer somebody. History is far more nuanced and complicated than most people know.

Medievalists, Recoiling From White Supremacy, Try to Diversify the Field

By J. Clara Chan

—-The criticisms of the conference’s diversity stems from problems in medieval studies for decades — that it is still too Eurocentric, male-dominated, and resistant to change. But as the medieval era has become increasingly prevalent in rhetoric used by white supremacists to advocate for a return to racial, ethnic, and religious purity, many nonwhite medievalists are feeling a new urgency to combat the stereotypes that accompany the field.

http://www.chronicle.com/article/Medievalists-Recoiling-From/240666/

 

@@

And on Historical Anti-Semitism in Art:

thegetty

Dialogue: Exposing the Rhetoric of Exclusion through Medieval Manuscripts

By Kristen Collins and Bryan Keene, originally published on the Getty Iris

We invite your thoughts on an exhibition-in-progress at the Getty that addresses the persistence of prejudice as seen through lingering stereotypes from the Middle Ages.

As curators in the Getty Museum’s department of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, we are interested in how books, and museum collections more broadly, can spark dialogues about inclusivity and diversity. Our manuscripts collection at the Getty consists primarily of objects from Western Europe, which can present challenges when trying to connect with a multicultural and increasingly international audience.

We are striving to make connections between the Middle Ages and the contemporary world—connections that may not be immediately evident, but are powerful nonetheless. Museums are inherently political organizations, in terms of the ways that collections are assembled, displayed, and interpreted. This year’s meeting of the Association of Art Museum Curators addressed how institutional narratives and implicit bias can skew ideas of history and culture in ways that exclude minorities and gloss over the shameful aspects of our past. Groups such as the Medievalists of Color, the Society for the Study of Disability in the Middle Ages, the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship, and the Society for the Study of Homosexuality in the Middle Ages, among others, are applying similar lines of inquiry, seeking to decolonize and diversify the field of medieval studies. We stand with these groups.

We were also inspired by Holland Cotter’s call to arms, as he exhorted museums to tell the truth about art, “about who made objects, and how they work in the world, and how they got to the museum, and what they mean, what values they advertise, good and bad. Go for truth (which, like the telling of history, is always changing), and connect art to life.”

Here is our description of the exhibition, still in draft form:

Medieval manuscripts preserve stories of romance, faith, and knowledge, but their luxurious illuminations can reveal more sinister narratives as well. Typically created for the privileged classes, such books nevertheless provide glimpses of the marginalized and powerless and reflect their tenuous places in society. Attitudes toward Jews and Muslims, the poor, those perceived as sexual or gender deviants, and the foreign peoples beyond European borders can be discerned through caricature and polemical imagery, as well as through marks of erasure and censorship.

As repositories of history and memory, museums reveal much about our shared past, but all too often the stories told from luxury art objects focus on the elite. Through case studies of objects in the Getty’s collection, this exhibition examines the “out groups” living within western Europe. Medieval society was far more diverse than is commonly understood, but diversity did not necessarily engender tolerance. Life contained significant obstacles for those who were not fully abled, wealthy, Caucasian, Christian, heterosexual, cisgendered males. For today’s viewer, the vivid images and pervasive narratives in illuminated manuscripts can serve as a stark reminder of the power of rhetoric and the danger of prejudice.

 

“If you don’t know you have a history, it can be hard to believe you have a future.” —-National Museum of Stockholm

James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” 

 

Black Cowboys/Girls & Black Westerns

 

I recently had a discussion with one of my regular readers (Hi!) about Westerns starring PoC, some of which they hadn’t seen, which inspired me to make a list of some of my favorites.

I love Westerns. If you’ve been reading the Favorite Movies of My Life posts then you know I have a lot of nostalgia for TV Westerns. I used to watch Big Valley, with my Mom, because she loved Barbara Stanwyck, and Bonanza because she liked Lorne Green. Later, we discussed, and watched, shows like Rawhide, which starred Clint Eastwood, and The Rifleman because she was a big Clint Walker fan. From there, she introduced me to Clint Eastwood’s Spaghetti Westerns, and inspired by her, I went on to watch movies like The Magnificent Seven, because I fell in love with Yul Brynner.

But my biggest joy was watching Black people in Westerns. The existence of Black people in the West has been all but erased by Hollywood, like so much of History has been erased, and supplanted, with images of only White people getting to have adventures, or make History.

Image result for black cowboys

 

*The cowboy is an iconic American figure and in popular mythology almost always a white one. For every Django or Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman’s character in Unforgiven) there are hundreds of white gunslingers. But of the “estimated thirty-five thousand cowboys that worked the ranches and rode the trails between 1866 and 1895, researchers have calculated that the number of black cowboys ranged from five thousand to nine thousand, with the high number representing 25 percent,” wrote Tricia Martineau Wagner, an author of several books about the West, in Black Cowboys of the Old West.

https://theundefeated.com/features/fred-whitfield-and-the-black-cowboys-of-rodeo/

 

 

*How Hollywood Whitewashed the Old West

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/10/how-the-west-was-lost/502850/

Image result for black cowboys

*The Other Pioneers: African-Americans on the Frontier

http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=4807

 

Image result for black cowboys

*Black Outlaws, Cowboys, and Lawmen of the Old Wild West

https://owlcation.com/humanities/Black-Outlaws-Cowboys-And-Lawmen-Of-The-Old-West

Image result for african women cowgirls/history

 

*AFRICAN AMERICAN COWBOYS

http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.afam.002

Image result for black cowboys

*10 African-American Cowboys Who Shaped The Old West

http://listverse.com/2016/04/04/10-african-american-cowboys-who-shaped-the-old-west/

Even modern day cowboys are simply not being acknowledged. Lets face it, if you’re a Black person, who lives anywhere in the Southern United States, you know there are Black cowboys. Its unfortunate that Hollywood and television don’t ever seem to remember that. My family is from deep Mississippi, so I know about this, but hardly anyone outside of the Southern states seems to know.

Image result for modern black cowboysImage result for african american cowgirlsRelated imageImage result for african american cowgirls

Image result for modern black cowboysOnly one member of the Cowgirls of Color competed in rodeo events as a teenager. “I was the only black person there,” she says. Photograph: M Holden WarrenKB works to control Yankee Girl during the barrel relay Photograph: M Holden Warren

*They’re Cowboys And They’re Coming Straight Outta Compton

 

 

And Philly:

 

Whitewashing of the term Cowboy:

They’re Cowboys And They’re Coming Straight Outta Compton

http://www.npr.org/2015/04/30/403353200/comptons-cowboys-keep-the-old-west-alive-and-kids-off-the-streets

@@

Image result for black cowboys/will smith

As for Westerns featuring Black actors, here, in no particular order, are some of my favorites:

Gang of Roses (2003)

Reviewed here: https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/gang-of-roses/

Posse (1993)

I remember this movie was a huge deal in the Black community when it was released. A lot of my friends were crowing about how good it was. While it’s not my absolute favorite Black cowboy movie, its in the top ten, because at the time, it was kind of mind-blowing, since the last movie, that was anything like, it had been released in the seventies. And I got mad respect for Mario Van Peebles, who was  trying hard to make Black genre films a thing.

 

Blazing Saddles (1974)

I saw this one when I was in college, as a double bill with Raising Arizona, and laughed my ass off the entire evening. Two of the funniest Westerns ever. This movie was not afraid to go there. My favorite scene is when some racist cowboys bully the the Black railworkers into singing for them, and they burst into a piano-lounge tune called,  “I Get No Kick from Champagne”. The White cowboy’s reactons are  priceless. That scene never gets old!

 

Unforgiven (1992)

Unforgiven has some deep themes. While I’m not a fan of Clint Eastwood, the person,  his films have always been first-rate. Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman are awesome in this movie.

 

Silverado (1985)

I saw this around the time of its release. Starring Danny Glover, and Kevin Costner, it was the  first time I’d ever seen either of these two actors, and the first time I’d ever seen a Black cowboy in a movie.

 

Buffalo Soldiers (1997)

I don’t remember a whole lot about this one. I watched it on cable late one night and remember enjoying it somewhat, so I’m not sure if this classes as a favorite, but I did watch it in its entirety, so felt I should put it here. It stars Danny Glover again, so that may have been my initial impetus for watching it in the first place, since I enjoyed Silverado.

 

Wild Wild West (1999)

I will watch Will Smith in anything, so I was overjoyed to see him in a Western, even if the movie royally sucked. The music video, on the other hand, was the shit. Yes! I know ALL the lyrics!

 

Django Unchained (2012)

Reviewed here: https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/in-defense-of-django-unchained/

 

The Hateful 8 (2015)

Reviewed here: https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/geeking-out-about-the-hateful-eight/

 

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Yeah, I liked this movie!

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/stuff-im-watching/

“What if a white guy played Black Panther?: The Fake Concern of Fake Geek Guys — Stitch’s Media Mix

Whenever I talk about racebending as a concept when it comes to comics and comics-related properties, smartasses always show up to say something snarky like “what if Black Panther or some other Black hero were a white guy”. They crowd into my mentions or any comment field they can get a hold of, trying to […]

via “What if a white guy played Black Panther?: The Fake Concern of Fake Geek Guys — Stitch’s Media Mix

 

**And for further reading, the distinction is that Whitewashing is bad and Racebending is okay, and here is why:

Dear Comic Fans: We Get it. You’re racist and racebending scares you.

The Incomparable Differences between Whitewashing and Racebending

Whitewashing vs. Racebending: Yes, There is a Difference

https://moviepilot.com/p/how-whitewashing-does-and-doesnt-affect-movies/4112605

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/whitewashing-racebending

 

**And further readings on Race and Media for the weekend include a description of harassment in the Art world,  for speaking the truth, which is important to me because I’m an artist.

This ties into America’s general belief that History was all White, and that PoC played no part in European History at all. As Dr. Who said, “History has been whitewashed!” And yes, I blame Hollywood, and America’s  general historical ignorance. It’s this ignorance of the part PoC played throughout every era of human history that leads to cries of “Historical Accuracy” every time a Black person wanders into the orbit of, not just historical films, but any Fantasy films that have a foundation in European folklore.

https://hyperallergic.com/383776/why-we-need-to-start-seeing-the-classical-world-in-color/

https://www.artforum.com/news/id=68963

 

**And on Race and Fandom Wankery…Stop It! Fandom is every bit as racist as non-geek culture, but Klandom thinks it’s better at disguising it. There has also been some confusion about patterns of implicit racism vs calling individuals racist.

Thinking that you are personally being called out on your racism is basically the Racism 101 approach to this topic,  because we’re not talking about individual people, although individuals may be used as examples of what were drawing attention to.

The discussion that PoC and LGBT people are having is from the 401 Class, and seems to be over quite a few people’s heads. We’re discussing patterns of behavior across multiple platforms. We’re not talking about a handful of bigots, writing stories we don’t like, but  about hundreds of people across fandom engaging in the same behavior, and then making the exact same excuses for their behavior, over and over again.

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

nyxelestia

We who…

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

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

They’re not.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

And Danae Guriria lays it out:


**And on Hollywood Erasure. This topic is especially interesting to me becasue I know there were Black cowboys. When Slavery ended, a lot of Black people fled West, rather than North, which is how and why there are so many black people in places like Minnesota, Oklahoma, California and a huge Black population in Texas. I know there were Black Cowboys (and many many Mexican ones) but this is something most Americans don’t no about due once again to Hollywood Whitewashing. The remake of the Magnificent Seven is a lot more historically  accurate than the original.

Although the reception of that movie proves one more thing to me, that Denzel Washington can make whatever the Hell movie he wants, and no one will criticize him for historical accuracy. Apparently, he belongs in any era he wants.

 

black-to-the-bones

The LIT History Series is for the Legends, Innovators and Trailblazers that have shaped our culture.

It is widely believed that the “Lone Ranger”, the famous cowboy of the TV show and the movie, was inspired by a Black man named Bass Reeves.

Reeves was born a slave, but he escaped to the West where he eventually became a Deputy U.S. Marshal, an expert marksman, and a master of disguise with his Native American sidekick. Blacks were a huge part of the Western frontier despite what’s told to us in pop culture or taught to us in the classroom. “The kids who are learning history in our schools are not being told the truth about the way the West was,” says Jim Austin, founder of the National Multicultural Heritage Museum. “I bet you nine out of 10 people in this country think that cowboys were all white – as I did.” (x)

Cherokee Bill, born Crawford Goldsby, was a notorious outlaw whose father was a Buffalo Soldier. His reputation and career as an outlaw rivals the reputation of Billy the Kid. Bill Picket was a “famous” Black cowboy who toured the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America, and England, and he was inducted into the National Rodeo Hall of Fame 40 years after his death. (x)

And black cowboys are still here, they do exist.

That’s a huge part of history that was also erased from the history of America. We need to bring attention to this, because it’s unfair that black people along with other people of color have been erased from this narrative.

Source

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, that’s enough rambling from me.

Here! Have some links!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Victor Salva: “Problematic” Filmmaker

*I’m always writing these huge ambitious metas about stuff, but this is the kind of stuff that sits in my brain until I can get it out. So here goes:

I  don’t really like the word “problematic”, as I feel its overused, but its entirely accurate when it comes to this particular director. In 1988, Victor Salva was convicted of sexual misconduct, with the  then 12 year old star of his movie, Clownhouse. He pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious conduct and spent 3 years in prison. He was registered as a sex offender and is no longer allowed to be alone with children on his film sets.

Victor Salva, more than any other director, is the one of the poster children, not just for White male privilege, but the issue of separating the artist from their art. One of the things that makes it so difficult to to do this with Salva, is that his sordid past keeps intruding into his art, which once you know about it, is impossible to unknow.

*(This Vice article, written back in 2012, lets me know I’m not the only person who has noticed this about Salva’s films.)

Victor Salva Loves Terrorizing Semi-Naked Youths

CHARLIE GRAHAM-DIXON

After Salva was released from prison, he was offered a movie to direct by Disney, in 1995, called Powder, starring Jeff Goldblum, Sean Patrick Flannery,  Lance Henriksen, and Mary Steenbergen, about a young albino genius, named Jeremy “Powder” Reed, who has electrical powers. At the movie’s release, Salva’s former victim came forward to protest the release of the film. Salva has not worked with Disney since that time.

All this would just be a footnote, and Powder would be just another of those movies lost to history, except Salva went on to make several more films, and is now, with the help of Francis Ford Coppola, about to direct another Jeepers Creepers sequel. And when watching any of Salva’s movies r you  start to notice a disturbing tendency to focus on his young male stars in ways that remind the viewer of his past transgressions.

Salva’s films, The Nature of the Beast (1995), starring Lance Henriksen again, Powder (1996), Jeepers Creepers (2001), and its sequel (2003), contain scenes that, while we might find them not  worth remarking about any other time, in light of Salva’s history, these moments are…disturbing. Now, he’s set to produce and direct Jeepers Creepers 3, and I’m debating whether or not I should see this movie. I watched these movies, the first time,  wholly unaware of Salva’s background.

For example, in one of the more controversial scenes in Powder, Jeff Goldblum’s character, Donald Ripley, finds Jeremy alone in a room, and tries to form an emotional connection to him. In any other movie, this would be a beautiful moment, and an example of non-toxic masculinity, between an empathetic older man, and a young man who is starved for affection. At least that’s how I watched it the first time, but with knowledge of Salva’s background, the scene becomes distinctly creepy.  Ripley  slowly caresses Jeremy’s face and head. Jeremy, who has never been shown any form of physical affection, nearly breaks down in tears.

“You touched me and I’ve had better sex than I’ve had in ten years… I want to be a friend.”- Jeff Goldblum’s character actually says this in the movie.

There’s another scene where Jeremy, unable to participate himself, (he doesn’t know how), watches a group of teenage boys play touch football. This entire scene is shot in the most romanticized, slow motion manner, very obviously making these teenage boys the subject of the viewer’s gaze, in a style that’s usually reserve for nubile young women (think the opening scene of the 1977 movie, Carrie). One of the young men is filmed in loving slow motion, taking off his shirt, as Jeremy surreptitiously peers at him through a doorway. His manner is curious and secretive. When the young man catches Jeremy watching, he attacks him with homophobic slurs, and beats him up.

There’s something about this scene that’s less disturbing than the previous one. This scene at least serves the purpose of allegory, as Jeremy has already been positioned, within the narrative, as a hated outsider, who must be destroyed. The idea that he might  be gay (or Bi) is set up in advance. The indictment of this scene is not in Jeremy’s actions, but in the reactions of the other characters. It also feels somewhat autobiographical on Salva’s part as something very like this scene makes its way into all of Salva’s movies.

Actually, the plot of Powder features repeated attempts by Jeremy to reach out and form emotional connections with the other teenagers around him, and he is violently rebuffed every time. Earlier, he tried to form an attachment with one of the young local ladies, but is physically threatened and assaulted by the girl’s father. Jeremy, who is telepathic, desperately craves emotional connection, having lived in isolation his whole life, but finds it impossible throughout the course of the film. On the other hand, you are constantly distracted from the plot by seeing Jeremy’s naked chest filmed in loving closeup for much of the movie.

This is something that also plays out in some of Salva’s other films, with at least one  character trying to form a connection to another, and getting violently  rejected, which makes me wonder if this is some personal incident that Salva relates to. Is the reliving of this,  over and over, in his movies, the fallout of his stint in prison? Are these bullying scenes Salva’s   manner of saying that he was bullied by the state for his predilections?

In The Nature of The Beast (1995)  Lance Hendrickson (Jack) and Eric Roberts (Adrian) play two men of the road. One claims to be a salesman, the other is a no account drifter who decides, for his own amusement, and to his misfortune, to play a Cat and Mouse game with Lance’s character. Adrian tries to form a connection to Jack, but Jack has nothing but disdain for him, and will have nothing to do with the shiftless fellow because Adrian is nothing but trouble. Adrian teases Jack about knowing  his deep dark secret, and it is implied that Jack’s secret is that he is gay, though he says he’s not. Actually, his deep dark secret is that he is a serial killer. (And no, I don’t care for the conflation between serial killing and homosexuality, either.)

 

In 1999 Salva directed a movie titled Rites of Passage, which I’d never heard of until this post, so I had to Google it. I came across this trailer:

I’m actually intrigued by the subject of this movie, and plan to watch this, if I can find a free copy somewhere. This movie seems like a psycho-sexual thriller,  in the vein of Basic Instinct, with more than a hint of The Nature of the Beast. (The term Rites of Passage means an event marking a change in status, most specifically it’s a ceremony or event applied to young boys  to mark their transition to manhood.) The entire cast is male and, once again, has a scene where a closeted character is challenged by a straight character about his sexuality, according to the trailer.There is always a no-homo scene in Salva’s movies. Someone is suspected, or accused,  of being gay and they have to assert that they’re not.

Rites of Passage seems to be a little more straightforward in its depiction of homosexuality, (even though it’s love scenes are filmed in the Calgon Bubble Bath style of filmmaking.) The interesting thing about Salva’s films is its depictions of toxic masculinity in the form of identity shaming. The actual homoerotic moments are filmed in a frank and open manner, with no shame attached to them, and the characters who are accused of being gay are often not ashamed of their behavior, until made to feel that way by some other character.

Its difficult to separate the art from the artist, or know how much of the plot can even be attributed to Salva. Divorced from any background knowledge of the director, the movies actually send a lowkey positive message about homosexuality, and being different.

The very first time I paid any attention to this director, was after I saw Jeepers Creepers in 2001. I took my youngest sister to see it at the theater, and the homoerotic nudging and winking went entirely over both our heads, at the time. Although in this film, the nudging and winking is less blatant, so its easier to miss. It is only upon repeated viewing that I came to understand that the lead character, Darry,played by Justin Long, is heavily coded as  a gay man.

While traveling home for the holidays, Darry and Trish run afoul of The Creeper, who sets his sights on acquiring Darry. I remember being surprised at the ending of the movie when Trish, realizing her brother is the monster’s target, offers herself in exchange, but The Creeper rejects her, and takes Darry. I missed a lot of things about Darry because the movie does have another issue that bothered me more  and that was the addition of a “Magical Negro”, played by Patricia Belcher.

The Magical Negro in Jeepers Creepers was like, Hmmm some total white strangers need my help? To the Blackmobile! Brilz

Jezelle swans into the narrative to provide what some needed exposition. Every 23 years, for 23 days, The Creeper, is released from his stasis, so that he can eat people. The people he eats seem to consist entirely of  pretty, young, White boys, and his modus operandi is to get the scent of some boy he fancies, and pursue them until he can devour what parts of them he needs to reconstitute his decaying body. Since The Creeper is  identified as a male, it’s understandable he’d just chase after other males, but nevertheless, we have yet another plot where you have an older male, pursuing young men, which is another staple of Salva’s movies.

I have no idea if Salva is doing this on purpose, or if he’s even aware  what he’s doing. Is he teasing the audience with his backstory? Is he trying to work out his personal dilemmas in his movies? Has he changed as a person at all, or is he just trying to normalize pedophilia? I don’t know the man, so I can’t say what’s going on in his head, but it’s clear he’s obsessed with the idea of pretty, young, White men, being chased by  older men.

At one point in the movie, The Creeper is caught sniffing Darry’s laundry, after he’s broken into his car. Darry holds up a pair of pink jockey shorts and says that now the monster knows his name. Why his shorts are pink is explained in the movie, but not why his name is on them. This  scene is somewhat gratuitous because there’s no payoff for it. The monster never speaks, and we’re  certain he doesn’t care what Darry’s name is, since he already has his scent, so why are we informed that Darry’s name is on his shorts?

At the time I saw this movie, I was unaware that “sniffing” was even a sexual activity. Like I said, most of the sexual coding went  over our heads, but not all of it. Even I thought that scene was odd when I first saw the movie. Part of the reason why this is, is the reaction of the other characters. A waitress witnesses the laundry sniffing and is outraged, but one gets the sense that she’s not upset about the activity, so much as the monster did it in a public place.  Earlier, Trish teased Darry about his pink Jockey shorts, but she doesn’t say anything about the sniffing, other than to say she’s surprised the smell didn’t knock him out. She does not react to the idea of a stranger sniffing someone’s laundry. No one in the story finds the idea of laundry sniffing  odd or repugnant. ( Not to kinkshame, but if you mentioned such a thing to the real life versions of the small town people in this movie, you’d get that reaction.)

When Trish gently implies that he may be gay, Darry just shrugs, and when he finds out the monster has been sniffing his laundry, he seems more upset that The Creeper knows his name, than at the idea that this strange man (at this point they don’t know it’s a monster) has been sniffing his shorts.
Then finally there’s Jeepers Creepers II (2003)

If you didn’t think anything untoward about all of the scenes I just listed and don’t think they  mean anything, than how about the sequel to Jeepers Creepers.  All of the most questionable  moments of Salva’s movies, are amplified in this movie. In fact his movie continues to make the lists of most unintentionally gay horror movies, but its not  at all unintentional if it’s a pattern in all his movies.

It’s been three days since Darry’s kidnapping and The Creeper, disguised as a scarecrow, snatches a young pre-teen boy right from under his father’s ,and older brother’s noses. Later that day, The Creeper attacks a bus load of  boys returning from a basketball game.  He kills the coaches, and the heavily coded as lesbian bus driver, before spending most of that day and night, terrorizing the stranded teens.

Most of the plot takes place aboard the bus, giving the teenage boys lots of opportunity to engage in:  racist discussions, gay rumormongering, kinkshaming, sunbathing together on the roof of the bus, ignoring the cheerleaders, and strangest of all, peeing in groups. In the first movie, there is a scene of Darry peeing, and another one in Powder.

At one point, The Creeper terrorizes the teenagers by singling out which ones he’s interested in by licking the windows, so some of his behavior is blatantly sexually predatory, and the teammates argue about his interest in them for some time after this.  The issue with these movies is that many of the things,the viewer notices, can be explained away in the moment, and look unintentional. Its only after repeated viewing of all Salva’s movies, and knowledge of Salva’s sordid history,  that one realizes that young men, as a rule,  do not engage in group sunbathing and peeing sessions, and none of these things are unintended.

Scott, one of the team leaders is basically the poster child for entitled, angry White boys.  He’s racist, homophobic, sullen, and petty, and spends most of his time attacking the Black players, and the one team member suspected of being gay, named Izzy. At no point in the narrative is Scott set up as a sympathetic character, though, which is also in line with Salva’s other movies. Like all the other bullies in Salva’s movies, he is a cartoon villain, entitled, opinionated, and a massive coward. The hero turns out to be Izzy and his Black teammate, named Double D. They both work  hard to save their team mates, and live to the end of the movie. Complicating matters is the arrival of the father of the little boy who was kidnapped at the beginning of the movie.

Salva isn’t a bad filmmaker. He manages to pack some subtle messages about social justice into some effective, action packed movies,  and the movies are well directed, and written. But that sordid past, though…

Are we meant to forgive Salva? After all, he’s paid his dues, spent his jail time. He has, as far as the public knows, engaged in no recidivism. Can’t we all forget about it, and move on, as long as he’s following the rules? Is he just working through his issues in his films? Normally we would give the benefit of the doubt, but Salva’s focus on the young male body,  and the attendant homo-eroticism in his movies, makes that difficult.

*To read what Salva himself has to say about his past:

http://welcome-to-monster-land.blogspot.com/2009/07/directors-dungeon-victor-salva.html

Tumblr Discussions #182

 

*More introvert facts. There’s an entire website devoted to these little blirps.

introvertunites:
“ If you’re an introvert, follow @introvertunites.
”

@
@

*I’m totally in love with the idea that Finn is Force sensitive, and this person makes some very compelling arguments, for why Finn is a Jedi. 

 

*An analysis of the emotional, and psychological, differences between Finn and Kylo Ren, and their behavior towards Rey:

The parallels between Finn and Kylo Ren are the most direct (and stark) in terms of toxic masculinity. Finn seems to reject this toxicity, whereas Kylo Ren is constantly hung up on performing and proving himself strong enough. They are opposites: especially evidenced by the way they treat Rey – how they define themselves against the chief female presence of the movie.

Like Finn, Kylo Ren is also interested in and impressed by Rey. (And he also first meets her when she attacks him.) But instead of treating Rey like a person, Kylo acts out of aggression, objectification, and self-centeredness. He immediately immobilizes her, Force-faints her, and then carries her, bridal-style, to his ship: old-fashioned, exploitative, and gross. His language towards her is incredibly patronizing: “So this is the girl I’ve heard so much about…” He proceeds to insult her friends and threaten and torture her: violating her mind, using her as a tool but also relishing the show of his own power and the taking of something personal by force. “I can take what I want” is simultaneously a threat, a statement of power/entitlement, and a declaration of how Kylo fundamentally views Rey: an object, something controllable to serve his purposes. When the tables turn and Rey reads him, he is incredibly shaken by the subversion of his own authority and control, and when she escapes, he storms around looking for her in a blind rage, pursuing her with a weapon. Even as she’s beating him in the ensuing lightsaber battle, he has the gall to mansplain her own power to her: “YOU NEED A TEACHER!”

Unlike Kylo Ren, Finn uses Rey’s name throughout the movie. Kylo never calls her anything but “the girl” or “the scavenger,” even when addressing her. While Finn helps others without question, is vulnerable, and demonstrates affection, humor, feelings, and honesty, Kylo Ren is the opposite – all about projecting his own power and lashing out. He takes himself and his image incredibly seriously, valuing himself over others and their goals, treating underlings callously and with violence. Meanwhile, Finn accepts BB-8 as something deserving of his respect and speaks to the droid like a person.

While Finn easily cooperates with those around him, Kylo competes and chokes and throws tantrums, exchanging insults with Hux and belittling him at every opportunity, locked in a power struggle even with his allies. As Finn resists hurting the innocent and then straight-up defects over this, Kylo Ren is the one who orders their murders and then tortures his captives. Where Finn removes, and then ditches, his helmet at the first opportunity, Kylo Ren clings to his completely unnecessary, fabricated mask — a face that is not his own, versus Finn’s sincerity. It’s a powerful metaphor, putting on another face to become something else, to assume power. To disguise one’s true nature. The dark side, like gender, is performative — and the mask, in this case, is literal.

@
@
*How Racism attempts to rewrite history so as to erase the accomplishments and contributions of PoC. According to such people, no person of color was doing anything in History, and they actually seem to  believe all of it was White. This plays out in everything from the shows we watch to the fiction we read. Medieval historians seek to address this issue.

I want to let you in on the dirty little secret of my field, Medieval Studies: The Middle Ages is incredibly attractive to white supremacists. For people whose vision of a backwards-looking, great world is one with white Christian men in positions of power and the rest of us put in our places, the Middle Ages is a fertile ground for fantasy, where it seems very easy, at least superficially, to ignore the integral role of an incredibly diverse population. There are legends like King Arthur, images like the Bayeaux Tapestries, and long histories of Crusading that, on the face of it, make the Middle Ages look very white and like a world very divided neatly into categories of “us” and “them.”
This vision of a very white, very Christian Middle Ages has been a part of political rhetoric for rather a long time: Anti-feminist politicians exploit their idea of medieval chivalry and courtly love to give their ideas a historical grounding. The British Nationalist party uses the story of Excalibur to promote its vision of a racially pure England. The Crusades, in particular, have factored into that: Crusaders became a favorite theme of 19th-century Romantic writers and thinkers, whose refashioning of these tales were crucial to the creating the popular vision of a very white Middle Ages. T.E. Lawrence, the young British army officer who would go on to be known as Lawrence of Arabia and reshape the map of the modern Middle East came to that region as a student at Oxford writing about Crusader castles. Various European fascist movements throughout 20th-century have adopted Crusader rhetoric. More recently and in our own country, George W. Bush called for Crusade in the wake of 9/11. And the most recent presidential election saw a proliferation of images that have long circulated more quietly in the darkest, most racist corners of the internet that rely on medieval and Crusading themes and images to support both individual candidates and wider worldviews.
But it’s not just political rhetoric: Attachment to a white Middle Ages is also an attitude that has absolutely permeated our cultural outlook: Look at something like the TV version of Game of Thrones and you see a kind of fantasy Middle Ages in which the race politics is incredibly uncomplicated, with a lily-white savior and her dragons redeeming the inarticulate, teeming masses of brown barbarians. It’s a rhetoric that politicians can use because it resonates with the population.
But when we look at the actual Middle Ages in all its complexity, the possibility of this fantasy vision evaporates very quickly.

“Both Sons of Spain”: Medieval Jews and Muslims in the Imagined Nation

My department held a round-table and teach-in yesterday in response to post-election Islamophobic and anti-Semitic vandalism on campus. We felt it was important, as scholars in the humanities, to offer a humanistic intellectual response to the changing tenor of campus discourse; we grounded this response within our discipline, with six speakers offering case studies of how different communities have responded to repression within the Spanish-speaking world. (The event was livestreamed and a recording will be available early next week; I’ll post it as and when.) What follows was my intervention. -S.J. Pearce

medievalpoc medieval studies fact and fantasy white supremacists modern politicshistorical context crusades islamophobia antisemitism academia
@
@
*White women being taken to task for practicing White Feminism:
she-kicks-she-throws:

Dear fellow white women: we have a bad habit of self destruction. We have to stop aligning ourselves with white men. We are not ‘one of the guys’ socially or politically. They have and will actively try to ruin our lives. They only care about us when… …it suits them.

And our alliance with them HURTS NON-WHITE women. This is key! Women of color lead the way. They know how to fight. If you don’t care about non-white women, first fuck you. Second you are just hurting yourself. I’m ashamed most white women went for Trump but that’s only our most recent act of violence. White women: get your fucking shit together.

If you’re a white woman uncomfortable with this kind of call-out, check yourself. We don’t require acknowledgment of basic human decency. There’s a reason WOC mistrust us. If you don’t like it, BE BETTER. And they’ve been telling us this for years. But if you won’t listen … … to them, first fuck you, second listen to me, then: WOC mistrust of WW is founded. We need to get sorted.

@

@

I’m always here for  Westworld meta-analysis.

Westworld & Consent

eleonoraditoledo:

I find it so odd that people find guest/host relationships on Westworld even vaguely okay.  At best, if you believe that the hosts aren’t sentient you’re looking at a weird “romancing the blowup doll” situation.  At worst, if you–like me–believe that they are sentient whether or not they’ve actually “woken up”, then you are looking at an enslavement scenario.  If the hosts are human–that is, the next form of humanity as the show has implied–then they are being enslaved.  It’s one thing to be intrigued by say the guest-host dynamics, but to act like a host having sex with a guest is just adorable and romantic is very bizarre to me?

Keep reading

the only thing im a little bit upset about

thatjokerjerome:

is that i feel swindled out of an explanation for why william was the way he was, and why he turned to the dark side so quickly. clearly he had something really disturbed inside of him in order for that change to happen, but we got no real lead-up to it. he went from white hat to black hat literally overnight, and his long-winded voice-over at the end of the episode interspersed with a montage of him being a general evil-doer seemed cheap to me, especially within the context of a show that is supposedly so big on “show don’t tell”. i want to know more about the person he was outside of the park. i want to see how he treated logan’s sister and what happened to him through all the years inbetween. i didn’t “buy” that he just snapped overnight because of one instance where he saw dolores’s insides and realized she wasn’t human. that seemed lazy as fuck to me. it seemed like they were in a super big rush to do this reveal where as it would have been better and more believable to stretch it over another season so we could have seen a bigger and more realistic spiral into darkness for william.

He was already dark. He didn’t turn to  the dark-side. All that shit people romanticized with him and Dolores was actually presented in Westworld as gross as it was from the beginning and I LOVE this show for that. Because all too often impressionable young women romanticize dudes seeing a woman’s love as someone redeeming them. Making them better.

When in reality it’s two already complete people, who cooperate and love.  William wanted Dolores to be something she was not and CONTINUED see her as that even after she insisted she wasn’t.  Dolores is her own person.

William wanted her to be that key for him.

In other words, from the beginning Will was terrible for Dolores.

@

*I thoroughly enjoyed this one, which is a complete rundown of the types of toxic masculinity, embodied by the male characters, in the show.

Westworld is a Stunning Indictment of White Male Entitlement…Or One Big Reason Why I’m Invested In This Show, ESPECIALLY During These Crazy-Ass Days  (SPOILER AND TRIGGER-WARNING)

@
@
*And to finish it up:

10 Signs You’re an Introvert

1. You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.

Introverts are notoriously small talk-phobic, as they find idle chatter to be a source of anxiety, or at least annoyance. For many quiet types, chitchat can feel disingenuous.

“Let’s clear one thing up: Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people,” Laurie Helgoe writes in “Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength.” “We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.”

10 Myths About Introverts

introvertunites:

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.

Click on the links to get the full stories and visit the websites.

Lemonade Analysis

For those of you who are still geeking out about Beyonce’s new album, some of  the
 first in-depth, analysis  of Lemonade are being written. So, let’s   take a look:
Beyoncé’s “Love Drought” Video, Slavery and the Story of Igbo Landing
  1. [image description: Beyoncé in the music video for “Love Drought” marching into the water followed by a procession of black women]

    Beyoncé’s LEMONADE is filled with incredible artistry and stunning imagery. One of the most striking images for me on the visual album, though, occurs in the video for “Love Drought”. Much has been said about how LEMONADE draws influence from Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust, but less has been said in these same conversations about how the story of Igbo Landing is central to Daughters of the Dust and how the story of Igbo Landing- an act of mass resistance against slavery-also shows up in a really pronounced manner in the “Love Drought” Video.

    [Image description: Donovan Nelson’s artistic depiction of Igbo Landing in charcoal. It shows the Igbo slaves marching into a body of water with the water already up to their necks and their eyes closed. Image via Valentine Museum of Art]

    For those who don’t know, Igbo Landing is the location of a mass suicide of Igbo slaves that occurred in 1803 on St. Simons Island, Georgia. As the story goes, a group of Igbo slaves revolted and took control of their slave ship, grounded it on an island, and rather than submit to slavery, proceeded to march into the water while singing in Igbo, drowning themselves in turn. They all chose death over slavery. It was an act of mass resistance against the horrors of slavery and became a legend, particularly amongst the Gullah people living near the site of Igbo Landing.

    Not only is the story of Igbo Landing one of the key themes of Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust, which influenced LEMONADE, but its imagery also appears to be central to the “Love Drought” video. In the video, Beyoncé marches into the water followed by a group of black women all in white with black fabric in the shape of a cross across the front of their bodies. They march progressively deeper into the water before pausing and raising all of their hands toward the sunset.

    [Image description: Beyoncé marching into a large body of water by a beach followed by other black women]

    This scene and the video as a whole also occurs in a marshy, swampy landscape, matching African-American folklore descriptions of the location of Igbo Landing. In addition, this is all mixed in with imagery of Beyoncé physically bound in ropes and resisting their pull, which directly evokes slavery, resistance and the events at Igbo Landing for me.

    [Image description: Beyoncé on a beach leaning backward as she appears to be resisting the pull of a taught rope]

    Lastly, I would like to note how Beyoncé and the group of black women she is with very deliberately rose their hands while in the water toward the sunset. For me this recalled how the act of mass resistance at Igbo Landing was mythologized in many African-American communities as either the myth of the “water walking” or “flying” Africans. In the latter legend, the Igbo slaves walked into the water and then flew back to Africa, saving themselves in turn.

    Below is the myth of the “flying Africans” at Igbo Landing as told by Wallace Quarterman, an African-American man born in 1844 who was interviewed by members of the Federal Writers Project in 1930 (via wiki):

    Ain’t you heard about them? Well, at that time Mr. Blue he was the overseer and … Mr. Blue he go down one morning with a long whip for to whip them good… . Anyway, he whipped them good and they got together and stuck that hoe in the field and then rose up in the sky and turned themselves into buzzards and flew right back to Africa… . Everybody knows about them.

    [Image description: Beyoncé and several black women partially submerged in water by a beach and raising their arms toward the setting sun]

    Seeing Beyoncé and a group of black women marching into the water and raising their hands collectively toward the sunset reminded me specifically of this last interpretation of the story of Igbo Landing where the slaves flew to their freedom.

    There are lots of potential interpretations for this video and the visual album as a whole but the core imagery of the “Love Drought” video – marshy landscape matching folklore descriptions of the location of “Igbo Landing,” images of Beyoncé bound in ropes and resisting their pull, a collective march into the water and holding their hands out toward the sky as if they were about to fly away together-basically screamed out to me as the story of Igbo Landing as I watched the video. It’s such a powerful act of mass resistance against slavery and as an Igbo person living today in America, it was moving to see imagery which reminded me strongly of it in LEMONADE as well.

What to read after watching Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’

[viaFusion]

“Lemonade” is not simply another “he done me wrong” album or video. The relationship at the heart of the lyrics is a Trojan horse, opening to the shores of black womanhood as healing and salvation.

It’s also obvious that Beyoncé and her collaborators have combed through some college syllabi and taken a few trips to the bookstore. “Lemonade” is basically a video version of Black Feminist Lit 101.

Click through to view the full list.

 

vox.com
Beyoncé’s “Daddy Lessons” is a reminder of country music’s black and West African roots
Bey pushes against country music’s “little white myth.”
By Victoria M. Massie

Not everyone is feeling Beyoncé’s foray into country music with the song “Daddy Lessons” on her new visual album Lemonade, including Country Music Television News contributor Alison Bonaguro.

In a short post on the CMT site, Bonaguro asks, “What’s so country about Beyoncé?”:

Sure, Beyoncé’s new album Lemonade has a song with some yee-haws, a little harmonica and mentions of classic vinyl, rifles and whiskey. But all of the sudden, everyone’s acting like she’s moved to Nashville and announced that she’s country now.

Some Twitter users saw a different problem: Bonaguro can’t hear the black roots of country music.

The subtext of @alisonbonaguro post is that Beyoncé is trying to appropriate country, a genre stolen from Black folks by white folks.

Lemonade stands out both for Beyoncé’s emotional and musical range: She tells the story of heartbreak and self-affirmation through a Kübler-Ross model of griefsung in classic R&B ballads, trap, soul, rock, and also, notably, country music.

This is a testament to Bey’s artistry. But it is also a reflection of the integral part black people have played in American music since its inception across all genres — including country music.

In the visual album, Beyoncé kicks off “Daddy Lessons” singing “Yee-haw” while wearing a voluminous Antebellum-style dress cut from African wax print — paying tribute to her home state Texas and her identity as a person of African descent, which also parallels the origins of country music itself.

Before Nashville was the home of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, country music was a genre borne of African slaves. Indeed, musicologists have traced country music’s iconic banjo back to the ngoni and xalam, plucked stringed instruments rooted in West Africa.

https://safe.txmblr.com/svc/embed/inline/https%3A%2F%2Fyoutu.be%2Flzt0v9roU6g#embed-5723d079d374c885873304

And yet country music’s “little white myth” persists today because of the erasure of the genre’s black roots and the contributions black artists have made to it over the years. One of the first black icons of country music was DeFord Bailey, an outstanding harmonica player whose hillbilly records in the 1920s drew from the black folk music tradition he grew up with.

In 1962, Ray Charles, one of the fathers of soul music, released Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, the first country record to sell 1 million copies, ushering in the possibility of the sort of pop and country music crossover for which white artists like Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift are now celebrated.

“[‘Daddy Lessons’] doesn’t sound like a country song to me,” Bonaguro wrote. That has little to do with Beyoncé and almost everything to do with the way country music’s black voices have been silenced or forgotten.

Source:

Geeking Out About: Vikings

In the interests of transparency, let me be right up front in stating, that I know next to nothing about Vikings or Viking culture, that a good dozen views of The 13th Warrior and Valhalla Rising did not provide. I also read a lot of Thor comic books as a child but I dont think that qualifies as Viking culture because even though the characters from those books get some shout-outs, the show isnt really about any of them.

I can’t even articulate why this show interests me, but If you were to race-bend all the characters on this show to Black people, it would probably be called Empire. I don’t actually watch Empire because I prefer my lowbrow to pretend to be more highbrow. Vikings  automatically qualifies as that because its an “Historical Drama”.(In other words, a Soap Opera, set in the past.)

It’s also, quite possibly, one of the Whitest shows on television. Whiter even, than Friends, which had one Black woman living in NewYork, near the end of that show’s run. Its so White, that I don’t even expect any PoC to show up on this show, even though I’m pretty sure, some of us were there. (We’re like the “glitter” of History. We got into everything.)

See, this shot needs dragons in it, obviously.
See, this shot needs dragons in it, obviously.

I initially started watching it because I thought it would be like watching Dungeons and Dragons, but with more dirt. Yes, there’s plenty of dirt and blood but not as much dragons or magic as I thought. Actually, there are no dragons, which is disappointing because there’s not a show on Earth that couldn’t use some of those, especially Empire or Sons of Anarchy.

image

There’s a lot of sword fighting and a lot of strange sounding accents, that if you binge watch this show too much, you’ll be talking that way for the next two days. There’s also some serious makeup-fu going on. We get lots of lovely shots of filthy, bloody people, hacking each other to death with giant swords, who nevertheless manage to look like fashion models, with eyes heavily outlined in kohl.There’s some  lying, treachery, infidelity and domestic abuse, leading one to believe that Vikings were the Trailer Park/Beverly Hills people of the second century. Plus, there’s the obligatory, haunting theme song. All of the best shows have one.

imageOf course, my favorite character would be Lagertha. She used to be the wife of the lead character Ragnar, but is now a member of the Viking nobility and a warrior/maiden. Watching Lagertha kick ass is awesome and there’s not enough of it. I’m not too fond of any of the other women on the show. My biggest complaint is that all of the women are too skinny to be Vikings. Not that they should all be fat ladies but they  are all 21st century thin, which is mildly distracting.

image

My second favorite is Floki, and if you  know anything about Viking mythology, you can guess, by his name, what role he plays in the show. He’s one of the primary fonts of all that deceit, treachery and lying that I mentioned earlier.

Next would be Ragnar, and his son, Bjorn Ironside. They’re kind of bland compared to some of the other people in the show but they make up for it in looks.

image

I’m going to mention, though, no matter how bad your hair is today, it can’t possibly be as awful as the haircuts on this show. It’s like the makeup people tried as hard as possible to make these pretty people ugly, but on a shoestring budget. What they came up with are some truly, astonishingly, ugly hairstyles…for the men. The women get off pretty easy. There must not have been enough money, in the budget, to mess up their hair.

Oh, except Ragnar, whose bad haircut looks really sexy, though. Go figure!

image

Now, I have been told by a friend that all these characters were based on real life people, but that the historical aspects of the show, are less than accurate. There were shieldmaidens but the Vikings didn’t do nearly as much Viking as we’ve all been lead to believe. As I said, I wouldn’t know. Movies only seem to like the raiding and pillaging parts of their story, becasue watching people farm stuff isn’t sexy, unless they get hacked to death by raiders, afterwards.

There’s an interesting religious angle, too. In season one, the Vikings kidnap a young monk, who later seems to give up his vows and become one of them. The other characters find this either intriguing or unsettling and you can tell what kind of person they are, good or bad, by the questions they ask him about his past.

The young Bjorn is a lot snarkier than I thought he’d be and he’s in love with a young woman, named Porunn, who wants to be the next Lagertha, but “there can be only one” Lagertha and Porunn is a very young, poor substitute, but I respect her anyway.image

The show manages to do alright by the women, who get their own backstories and plotlines. I don’t know if the show passes the Bechdel test though. I’ve seen the women talking to each other, but whenever I’ve paid closer attention to what they were saying, they were talking about their husbands and Lagertha killed her last one. A fact she uses to bond with strangers.

It is ironic that the very reason I couldn’t stand to watch Sons of Anarchy, is opposite of the reasons I like this show. I knew far too much about the ugliness of the Biker community, to get past the prettiness of the people on that show.

Apparently, my ignorance, is much better served, with Vikings.

Kalynn's Korner

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

woolandgraceblog.wordpress.com/

knitting, needlepoint & blogging in Summit, NJ

Shared Threads

Knitting community together

The Afictionado

Pop culture ponderings and associated geekery

By Hook Or By Book

Book Reviews, News, and Other Stuff

We Minored in Film

Geeking Out Over Film & TV

One Lazy Robot

Anthony Vicino

El Paso P.O.V.

A critical look at EL Paso and the World with a Black Eye

My Sparking Thoughts

Just Giving You Something To Think About

Longreads

The best longform stories on the web

Culture Werewolf

Angry Dog Girl Slams Keyboard

Pop N' Crunch

Your Home for Beauty and Pop Culture

Screen Therapy

Movies and Games as Tools For Building Emotional Well-Being

Lil’V aka Viv Lu

just someone writing fiction and giving opinions

Mindless Observation

Mindless or Meaningless?

%d bloggers like this: