The Problem with White Critics

Image result for critics gifs

I think I began several different iterations of this post, but finally settled on making this as positive as possible, rather than making it just a rant, because what I want to do is encourage people to do something that’s helpful to everyone, including themselves.

We don’t have enough critics of popular media who are people of color ,and we desperately need more.

http://www.blackenterprise.com/lifestyle/does-racism-impact-the-way-reviewers-rate-tv-shows/

The  problem I have with so many white critics is that they don’t see color. No really, they just don’t see it. We’re experiencing a time where PoC are being increasingly cast in roles, or sometimes have their own vehicles, and most white critics either don’t know enough about other cultures to adequately critique that media, or who have such a deep seated discomfort with acknowledging other cultures, that they simply ignore characters of color in the media. They really just don’t see them, they erase them, forget they’re there, diminish their importance in the narrative, and there are some cases where I would consider certain reviews to be overt micro-aggressions, themselves, like the review of Hidden Figures, and Moonlight, by the racially tone-deaf, British critic, Camilla Long.

“The received wisdom on Moonlight, a film about gay love in the black ghetto, is that it is ‘necessary’ and ‘important’. It is an ‘urgent’ and ‘relevant’ examination of forbidden attraction in a world, ‘the streets’, that is largely hostile to gay men.

Only, relevant to whom? Certainly not the audience. Most will be straight, white, middle class. Nor is it particularly ‘urgent’: the story has been told countless times, against countless backdrops.”

https://www.themarysue.com/tone-deaf-moonlight-hidden-figures-reviews/

Image result for westworld maeve gif

In Westworld, there are two major threads of robot cognition occurring on the show, between Dolores, a White coded woman , and Maeve, a Black coded character. I found it impossible to find critiques of Maeve’s storyline, especially from an intersectional feminist perspective. Most White critics ignored her entirely, focusing all of their attention on the character they felt was the show’s star, Dolores.

Critics  of color, have long pointed out White Prioritization in media narratives, but this prioritization also extends to fandom and critics as well, where, if there is a single White person in narratives that involve PoC, fans and critics will focus entirely on that character, neglecting, erasing, and sometimes  even re-writing the contributions of the characters of color in the story.

Image result for finn star wars  gifs

We’ve directly witnessed fandom engaging in this with Finn from Star Wars, and  Nick Fury from the MCU, with fans often re-writing the narrative to villainize or  erase their contribution to the story. But this was notably illustrated on the show Sleepy Hollow, when, during the second and third seasons, the show’s Black female lead, Abbie Mills, was often sidelined in favor of the more marginal, White character’s storylines.

Maeve had nearly the same character arc as  Dolores, but no one was writing about her, and the people who did write about her didn’t take her race into consideration for how she was treated as a character, or how her race impacted her storyline vs. Dolores. Either White critics just didn’t see it, or they just didn’t care. Pick one!

I couldn’t find any posts on the topic of White female stereotypes vs Black female stereotypes in media, so I had to research it, and make my own. Ten minutes after that post was published, I was contacted by a young woman who said she’d just been searching the Internet, looking for exactly that type of post for her intersectional feminism paper, and citing that post  on a similar topic. Since then, that post has become one of my most popular, getting at least a couple of hits every day. (For the record, I’m not an  academic. I work in the Social Science and Research Dept. of a major library.)

Image result for luke cage gifs

When Luke Cage, and Beyonce’s Lemonade were released, I stated that I was specifically seeking critiques from Black critic perspectives, because no white critique would have been able to capture the nuances of either. Not being a part of Black American  culture, White critics would be unlikely to catch all of the Easter eggs, and details that made this media so important to us. Some things you just have to be a part of the culture to understand.

I’ve watched many, many, movies from other cultures and critiqued many of them, but have always kept in the back of my thoughts, that I’m not a member of that culture, and I’m unlikely to understand many details, so am able only to speak to a certain depth on films with primarily Latinx, or Asian casts. I would entirely understand if people from any of those cultures dismissed my reviews.

http://splinternews.com/theres-a-huge-divide-between-how-black-and-white-critic-1797478105

Image result for detroit movie gifs

This is the same problem that’s found in the movies of White directors of Black culture. Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit suffers from a lack of nuance. It’s two hours of Black pain, with no  depiction of the regular everyday life of the Black people in the city of Detroit. Their personal lives are lacking or given short shrift, and it lacks any depictions of the roles Black women played in the resistance to their oppression. I’m not arguing that Bigelow is a racist, but she is recreating a Black story through a White woman’s lens, so no matter how awake she may be as a person, her perspective on the issue is going to be limited, as she does not come from the environment she is portraying. I don’t object to Bigelow directing the film as she’s an excellent filmmaker. I’m just wondering if the film would’ve been better served by having a director from the same culture as depicted in the film.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/detroit-and-the-problem-with-watching-black-pain-through-a-white-lens_us_597f8907e4b08e143004bbf1

One of my favorite genres is the martial arts film. Jet Li is one of my favorite actors, and one of his early movies is Once Upon a Time in China. I watched this film in the nineties when my brother gifted me with the entire boxed set for Christmas. I really enjoyed them. They also came with a commentary from famed martial arts writer Bey Logan, who taught me exactly what I was missing when I was watching those films, many of which also have Easter eggs, like the names of streets signs, character names, and character fighting styles. Bey Logan is not Asian, but he does know more about the topic than I ever will, so I defer to him. (Ideally, I would read Asian writers writing about movies depicting them, which is what I did for Ghost in the Shell.)

Image result for once upon a time in china gif

Logan gave backstory on  characters that it didn’t occur  to me to ask, and answered a few questions that had been bubbling in the back of my mind regarding cultural issues, such as why you almost never see Chinese couples kissing in movies. These are all things I would never have known (or sometimes noticed) because I’m not Chinese, or a member of that diaspora.  I can enjoy the films only to a certain depth, but Bey Logan did teach me a lot about what to look for, and what to critique in such films.

I’m not saying White people can’t critique movies and TV shows that are primarily about people of color, just that their perspective isn’t going to carry the same weight as that of a person who is from the culture being depicted, and there are some critics, like Ms. Long mentioned above, who seem actively hostile.

My aim is to follow in Bey Logan’s footsteps, and  deepen understanding of characters and culture, by critiquing the media from my perspective, through my own lens, as a Black woman. I don’t just want to point out what White owned media, and fandom gets wrong about their depictions of characters of color, but to point out how, and why, it’s wrong, and teach viewers what to look for when watching events like Luke Cage, Lemonade, and Jessica Jones,  and movies like Detroit, Moonlight, and Hidden Figures. So from now on, when I write reviews on these types of productions, I intend to add more cultural and historical information, as I did when reviewing American Gods.

Image result for standing on a road gif

I’m standing in a very different spot than White men (and women) when viewing pop culture, and when it comes to media involving Black American culture specifically, my perspective is that of someone fully immersed in that culture. White male is certainly one perspective, and it has its merits but, once again, a lot of  nuance and history will probably be missed.

Right now, I’m following a White critic who regularly dismisses or erases Black characters, (he simply doesn’t mention them, and when he does, is often clueless as to their impact and importance in the narrative) although he is otherwise a perfectly decent reviewer. I don’t think he knows he’s doing it, but the cumulative effect of forgetting to mention certain characters, or not remembering their names, is one of dismissal of characters of color. He is a perfectly acceptable reviewer though, and we agree on a great many issues, but he is simply unwilling (or what is much more likely), incapable of seeing what I see in even the shows and movies we both like.

He’s standing where he’s standing, and I’m standing where I’m standing, and he can’t imagine what I’m seeing from over here. I don’t really expect of him, to be honest.

Image result for standing on opposite sides

Before Iron Fist, and Ghost in the Shell were  released, I deferred to the opinions of Asian Americans, and boosted their voices on topics of concern, as much as possible. I can’t speak for them, although I do try to notice if they’re being treated fairly in a narrative. They are the only ones who really KNOW the issues that are of paramount concern to them, as part of the culture being shown onscreen, and whenever possible I prefer to let people of their own culture speak for themselves.

So here’s my encouragement and a challenge: If you’re a person of color, who is interested in TV and film, and you know anything about history, or social justice,  or just care about those issues, you can be a reviewer. It’s easiest to start with television shows since those are much more accessible, but there’s no academic credentials, or specialized knowledge required to blog about it. All you have to do is be a person of color, who loves movies and TV, and have something to say about it.

Pick one show you especially enjoy, and write an essay on how it makes you feel (this is an example of Meta). Pick a movie you liked and talk about its themes or ideas that captured you. Pick a character that speaks to you, with whom you identify and talk about that. It doesn’t have to be like the newspaper reviews. It doesn’t have to be an academic treatise. It also doesn’t have to be negative. Saying how much you love something, and why, is still a review.

Is it a rant? Is it something you hate that movies keep doing? Is it something you love and want to encourage? Go for it! Do you actually have some specialized knowledge on a topic movies keep getting wrong? Let us know!

Trust me, you will find an audience. Its slow going, at first, but I promise to signal boost you. I will give you a platform. If you are a person of color with a movie and TV review blog, let me know, and I’ll reblog your stuff.  Got some meta on Tumblr? Just send me a link and I’ll post it.

We need more critics of color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://howlround.com/the-need-for-cultivating-theatre-critics-of-color

 

 

 

For You Writers

I want to introduce you to a Tumblr site for people who want to write PoC in their novels. This site clearly, coherently, with a minimum of fuss, and lots of links to other sites, explains what the stereotypes are for different groups of PoC, why they’re bad, and how to avoid them. How to write about Black skin and hair without referring to food, the different stereotypes between Latinas and Black women, and how to write engaging, complex Men of Color.

writingwithcolor:

image

Writing With Color Top Posts + Other Useful Ones

Oh hey– here’s a list ranked by Writing With Color’s most popular posts since opening in 2014 up till now, the start of 2017. Pulled together for the interest and usefulness for readers like you. Thank you.

Top 7 Popular Original Posts

  1. Words for Skin Tone – This two part guide offers an array of words for describing skin color. Part I focuses on the problems with food descriptors. Part II provides alternatives. (68k+ Notes)
  2. Common Micro-aggressions: African Americans and/or Black People – An extensive list of common micro-aggressions towards Black people with some links for further reading. (46k)
  3. Words to Describe Hair  As with the words for skin tone, an offering of words to describe hair, from curls to different colors. (34k+)
  4. Black and White Symbolism: A Look into the Trope – Discusses concept of black as evil and white as good, from its history & problem implications. Guide offers alternatives & solutions. (10k)
  5. Describing Accents – An example-based post for describing accents and voices. (5k)
  6. How to Research your Racially/Ethnically Diverse Characters –     Self-explanatory. (5k)
  7. Describing Asian Eyes – A guide to describing Asian eyes with further useful commentary. (4k)

Honorable Mentions

Other recommended WWC Posts.

  • Stereotyping Tropes List – A categorized tropes list reposted from the TV Tropes website with links to their topics on the subject matter.

–WWC

Please visit the site.Even if you’re not a writer, it has some interesting articles if you want to learn about things like: intersectional feminism and basic racial terms.

Tumblr Discussions

One of these days I’m going to come up with a title for these particular types of posts. ‘Til then, I’ll just stick with having the word Tumblr somewhere in the title, I guess.

Well, anyway these are reproductions of some of the discussions about fandom and race, or race and Hollywood, I just want to signal boost. I give the authors full credit, and advocate for everyone to please subscribe to Tumblr, if you can, or just visit the blogs in the links.

 

*First, the good news!

9 Black Women Who are Directing Upcoming Feature Films
“Being that 1.3% of feature film directors are women of color (Directors Guild of America, Diversity Report), some powerful black woman are rising above the statistics. From feature films on racial inequality to relationships to women’s issues, these nine directors are shaking up the theaters in 2016 and 2017. Here are the incredible women and the movies they are directing.”

1. Ava DuVernay – The 13th (2016) and A Wrinkle in Time (2017)

2. Amma Asante – A United Kingdom (2016) and Where Hands Touch

3. Julie Dash – Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl (2016)

4. Frances-Anne Solomon – Hero (2017)

5. Dee Rees – Mudbound

6. Stella Meghie – Jean of the Joneses (2016) and Everything, Everything

7. Dawn Porter – Trapped (2016)

8. Rita Coburn Whack – Maya Angelou and Still I Rise (2016)

9. Nnegest Likké – Ben & Ara (2016) and Everything but a Man (2016)

Add Gabourey Sidibe to this list! She’s directing a short film called Four Women!!!!!

Source:
wilsontoyourhouse
andythanfiction

drpepper23fan:

 Sam Wilson is no one’s fucking third wheel.

Let’s review Sam and Steve a little:

There is a reason that Sam and Steve are dressed alike in every fucking scene. They’re partners. There is no sidekick here. They are on equal footing and every decision that has to be made, is made together, as teammates, as partners.

I think it’s important that Sam was the first to disagree with signing the Accords and not Steve. Sam made his point known first. He didn’t wait to see how Steve would respond to it, because it didn’t matter. Sam felt how he felt, independent of Steve and whatever Steve’s feelings may have been.

Sam’s not afraid to call Steve out on his shit. This is also comic canon. Sam makes his opinion known and Steve shows nothing but respect for Sam and his opinions.

Everyone wonders why no one but Sam was at Peggy’s funeral to support Steve. Did anyone consider that the reason Sam is the only one there for him, is because Sam is the only one he wants to be there for him? Did you consider that Sam is the only one he’s willing to be vulnerable in front of?  Did you consider that Sam is the only one he wants by his side? Did you consider that Sam is the only one he actually wants to receive comfort from?

He didn’t even know Natasha was there and his first thought upon seeing her was that she was there simply to talk him into signing the Accords.

Steve tried his best to save Bucky from any and everybody. He and Sam with the help of Sharon, find Bucky together. Sam on the roof as lookout while Steve goes inside. When Black Panther first attacked Bucky, the first thing Steve did, before he did anything else, was call out for Sam. That in itself is very telling.

Bucky attacked Sam and Steve in turn attacked Bucky. They could have played this out a million different ways, but they didn’t. Bucky also fought with Tony, Natasha, Sharon, and T’challa. Yet it was Bucky attacking Sam, and Steve in turn attacking Bucky that they chose to highlight.

Once they, you know Sam and Steve, standing side by side, the way they were for this whole damn movie, have Bucky’s arm in the vice and Steve’s all emotional and happy that Bucky knows who he is, it only takes one look and a few strong words from Sam to snap Steve back into action. “People are dead, Bucky. I need you to do better than I don’t know.”

People wondering why Bucky’s in the back side instead of Sam. There’s a reason Sam and Steve are side by side in the car (besides that fact that side by side is how they’ve been throughout this whole fucking movie,) with Bucky the odd man out in the back, but you know, draw from that scene what you will.

The way Steve keep looking over at Sam throughout the airport scene, you know where they once against stood side by side. I mean, he wasn’t looking back at Bucky, who was once again off to the side. Seriously every scene that had all three of them in it, was Sam and Steve side by side in front of Bucky. They were a united front. Sam and Steve that is. How the fuck do you get Sam as the third wheel side kick out of that?

Airport scene. Steve left because Sam told him to. End of discussion on that.

The last scene before the two end credits is Sam and Steve smiling at each other. Like who the fuck is this third wheel side kick you speak of?

I’m not saying there wasn’t a sidekick. I’m just telling you that it sure as fuck wasn’t Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon, aka not your fucking third wheel no matter how much you may want him to be.

Steve said the name ‘Sam’ more times than any other word throughout this whole fucking movie. Just saying.

@
@

*This is an excellent summation of the above defense. Sam is constantly being cast as someone whose only worth is that he is of use to the White characters. This is a common trope in fandom because its such a common trope for television and movies.

*I was going to do a post on how all PoC are only ever presented, in most forms of media, as being useful to their White stars. I’m not surprised to see common media tropes about PoC being reproduced in fandom. Its what happens when people don’t bother to examine the media they consume. You can believe yourself to be as Progressive as you want, but if you don’t remain constantly vigilant against racist messages, those messages will infest any art you produce.

*Being Progressive is not a final resting place. Its not a place you get to, then stop moving. It takes constant work. Like germs, these tropes are insidious and sometimes you don’t  know you’re in possession of them until you run into them, or someone else points them out.

Is fandom racist? Of course it is. Every other form of media they’ve been exposed to carries problematic messages, or the simple erasure of PoC. The foundations of their fandom are racist, so that is what they are going to produce when it comes to their own art. 

wilsontoyourhouse
diversehighfantasy

shady-saint asked:

The thing is all the antiblack racism in fandom, isn’t new in its use of racism. They cycle though the same racism stereotypes and fit the ones on that they think fit the best. But a lot of this boils down to black people not being seen as people and or individuals separate of nonblacks people. We exist on a spectrum from the saintlike nonthreatening blacks people who exist to take care of nonblacks usually to the detriment of their own wellbeing(Sam)(T’Challa),

stitchmediamix answered:

and erased from the narrative or vilified depending on how best to be pushed aside(Rhodey)(Nick). But with both we still exist in connection to nonblack people either as their asexual mammy, Mandingo, therapist, or the angry negro, the shady black pesron, and the savage. They can’t fathom we exist as actual people that’s why even before the Black Panther movie comes out their trying to make it about Bucky.

Originally posted by yourreactiongifs

Fandom is so stressful because this always happens whenever there are Black characters in a piece of media. Fandom either figures out a way to use them to shore up their ships or they find out a way to make them a bad guy (that the ship has to band together to take down or something).

(Normally, I’d say something about how it’s all about white dude slash ships, but I just read a Darcy/Steve story where Nick Fury was positioned as a minor bad guy interrupting their happy rom-com of a life for asking Steve to be a little less conspicuous and to let them know that they’re not safe running around New York like they’re on an episode of Friends.)

And Black fans of stuff know this isn’t new.

Our friends know this isn’t new.

Nonblack POC who are fans of characters of color (like Elementary’s Joan) who’ve seen the fandom spin machine at play get it.

The only people who don’t get that rewriting Black characters as villains, nannies, wingmen, and jealous exes so that they can prop up a  non-canon ship between two white characters is a bad and constant thing are the people who don’t want to get it.

I mean… considering how you can google this shit? And how there are blogs dedicated to talking about racism in fandom spaces? There’s a point where “I didn’t know” becomes “i didn’t want to know”. Because you can literally track the cycles and the racism and the hate for Black characters in their tags and in fandom meta posts.

It’s not that hard.

@

wilsontoyourhouse
sunwukxng

marissarei:

I know we joke about it but it is really hard to not be hyper-critical of the media you consume as a person who has been made aware of the ways that stereotypes contribute to your oppression. It’s hard to turn it off an simply enjoy something. As a black person, the hyper-visibility of our death and pain and struggle makes it damn near impossible sometimes. And so to have people who will *never* understand that, people who in their various ways benefit from anti-blackness, say that black fans are overreacting when they critique your favorite cartoon or movie or comic is incredibly callous and dismissive.

I’m just sayin.

@

wilsontoyourhouse

sunwukxng

nerdgasrnz:

it’s so fucking IRRITATING to see these ignorant, holier-than-thou nonblack ppl being all like “there goes tumblr at it again” in my fucking face when I have to deal with another fucked up mishandling of a narrative that’s based around discrimination, castes, slavery, racism or whatever

I am trying my damn best to move past hyper-criticizing media, I really am. i’m trying to be happy and escape from the real life news about another black person being gunned down excessively, by a nonblack person who’s probably gonna get off scot free because that’s what the previous 10 news articles said happened before

I’m trying to keep from media that consistently fucks up writing about racial discrimination/castes in fiction or whatever and mistreating characters that are clearly based on my skin color and my history, but what do we fucking get?

The same garbage. Over. And over. And OVER again. In different sources. In ALL mainstream media. That all say the same thing. That black people are caricatures, are dangerous, are stupid, are aggressive, are hypersexualized, or whatever other one-note stereotypes that nonblack writers make out of us. And we’ve been seen that way in America since the very beginning.

America’s history is solely profiting off of Black (and other non-White) people and their heritage and history and stories, all while making us feel worthless and despicable even though we’re the reason they’re so fortunate.

It’s 20-fucking-16 and I’m tired of seeing myself dead on the news, only to turn the channel and see that I’ve been maimed and murdered in fiction for no discernible reason, portrayed as a dangerous brute that “had it coming”

Writing black or black-coded characters in such a way that they HAVE to threaten the protagonists and force the protagonist into “self defense” (Sound Familiar???) or whatever, when there are other avenues.

There’s nothing wrong with complicated, morally gray, unsavory, black coded characters- but you need to have ENOUGH complex, multifaceted black/black-coded characters to do that with and have a BALANCE. As heroes, anti-heroes, villains, and anti-villains.

“Tumblr’s at it again, they’re never pleased”
No, your tasteless, tone-deaf, shitty creators who you hold dear- who I THOUGHT I held dear, are at it again.

Tell them to quit fucking up stories that are CLEARLY based on our suffering, and we’ll stop complaining about it.

Source: nerdgasrnz anti blackness
@
@
*On some level I knew this. I do not read gay romance novels because I got really tired of most of the tropes listed in this post.
 http://brandonrambles.tumblr.com/post/146534279006/gay-romance-novels-are-not-queer-romance-novels
@
@
* I’ve never seen Medievalpoc get mad or snarky, but people must be seriously working their last damn nerve  to get this particular response. And I don’t blame them for being upset. It gets really tiring trying to explain to the same deeply ignorant people, every day, that Black people existed before 1964.
medievalpoc

And seriously, when are people going to realize that when I post resources that happen BEFORE A THING OR TIME IN QUESTION, I’m showing you that people of color were ALREADY THERE? They didn’t just magically spring into being in time for a battle or to have their portrait painted, that we can assume they were born out of a human and spent some time growing up and existing before anyone wrote about them or created an image or other record of them?

Like this is what happens from teaching and learning history in “periods” or “events” that get presented and analyzed in some sort of vacuum. As if once a new “era” starts, someone slams their hand down on the “Racial Reset Button” that makes everyone magically white again?

Look, no one can force you to fact check what I post here, click the links I have provided, or read what I post at all. But can we at least PRESUME basic knowledge of temporal existence? Am I asking too much?

 

Tumblr Talks About Media

 Shonda Rhimes new Shakespearean drama, Still Star Crossed, which I’m totally here for, and the deeply (and I mean deeply) ignorant backlash against this, as if black people hadn’t been invented until 1964.

ABC Orders Shondaland’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’ Sequel, “Still Star-Crossed”

ABC’s “Still Star-Crossed” stars Wade Briggs as Benvolio, Lashana Lynch as Rosaline & Sterling Sulieman as Prince Escalus

Written by Heather Mitchell, and based on the book by Melinda Taub, the “Romeo & Juliet” sequel is titled “Still Star-Crossed” and is set in 16th century Verona, picking up where Shakespeare’s original work ended. It chronicles the treachery, palace intrigue and ill-fated romances of the Montagues and Capulets in the wake of the young lovers’ tragic fate.

Teaser Trailer:

https://youtu.be/TVwa9wQq40Q

 

Source:

Oh quit bullshitting like this isn’t about your racism. Anthony Hopkins did Titus Andronicus as a half-dream half art piece with Saturnius and Bassanius using podiums and 1950′s style microphones to argue which one of them should be king. Kenneth Branagh did Hamlet in the Victorian Era. David Tennant did Hamlet in a fucking t-shirt. “Sons of Anarchy” was based on the story of Hamlet and it was about a motorcycle club running guns to the IRA. Don’t give me any shit about fucking ‘historical accuracy’ you fucking ponce, it’s SHAKESPEARE- it’s literally been done by a dog dressed in little hats and jackets (Wishbone, I never forgot you) and Wednesday and Pugsley Adams. If you have a problem with this you are not only a racist asshat, but you are so damn ignorant of Shakespeare I don’t even fucking know why you bothered to have an opinion except to let people KNOW you are a racist asshat.

And I mean, all good Shakespeare companies blind cast. Shakespeare companies pretty much invented that. An African-American actor was playing King Lear in the 1820s in London, yet  people still get bent out of shape over actors of color in Shakespeare in the 2010s. It’s a long tradition, unlike the movie and TV tradition of casting people of color mostly in small roles and only “when there’s a reason for it.”

 *These are the type of criticisms PoC get from people who know no form of history, or have ever read Shakespeare, but have the nerve to go online and make arguments like the ones above.
@
@
@
*And finally, this happened. I have since heard that the lead female character from Castle was ousted from the show because Nathan Fillion hated the actress. Interesting behind the scenes rumors.

@

@

Black Widow thoughts:

Race in Hollywood/ Tumblr Talk V

Once again, the discussions on Tumblr break it down, regarding the rules and regulations of intersectional femininity, and race.
_
_
_
My thoughts on being a person of color in Hollywood: nicolebyer:

The New York Times asked me to write about being a person of color in Hollywood. I wrote it but they didn’t like what they read I guess??? I say that because they decided not to run it. But I think I actually wrote something good. Thank you to my dear friend Madeline Walter for proofreading and editing it. Have a read will ya?

Hmmmmm… oh boy. Imagine my surprise when I opened an email and saw that the New York Times wanted to know my opinion on being a person of color working in Hollywood. To me, that sentence is a crazy sentence. Like my life is crazy and the fact that I am working in Hollywood is crazy. Also my friends barely want my opinion on anything, and the New York Times is, like, a news source that intellectuals in coffee shops read.

But, down to the actual question that has been posed to me… what is it like being a person of color working in Hollywood? Well I’ll tell you, it’s a real roller coaster, because not only am I a person of color, but I am a woman and an overweight one at that. I’m like the least traditionally fuckable of all the women you could gather and put on TV/film. Now you’re probably thinking, “OH NICOLE! DON’T SAY THAT ABOUT YOURSELF! EVERY BODY IS A BEAUTIFUL BODY!” That’s a very nice thing for you to shout at me, but I already know that. I love who I am right now, and I’m not the one who’s telling myself I’m unfuckable. It gets beaten into my brain from audition notices that say, “looks like a linebacker”…“woman who is fat and disgusting but still somehow has sex”… “fat black waitress”… “hooker”… “black bus driver.” A lot of under-five characters I would audition for don’t even have names. Instead, they’re named by their race, body type and/or profession. They’re not given real names, which to me, means they’re not viewed as real people. Which is super helpful, ‘cause, you know, in case I forget what I look like, some cool writer or casting director will remind me.

Also, I’ve done a handful of voiceover and on-camera jobs where I’ve been asked to “be blacker.” Which is code for be sassier, more ghetto, more neck rolls and snaps. I even wrote and shot a video about it with some dear friends (please take a break from this and YouTube it). A lot of the time I wouldn’t know where my next paycheck was coming from, so I would just sass it the fuck up when someone asked me to. That’s not to say that being sassy isn’t fun. It is… just not when it’s asked of you everywhere you go. Because you start to feel that nobody cares what else you have to offer. Now before you think, “Nicole, nobody escapes typecasting,” I say, “Oh fuck you, take a nap, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Typecasting is a thing, but when it involves race, it narrows the roles available down to an almost comically small amount.

On the flip side (told you it was a roller coaster), now I do get to audition for things that are not defined by race. I’m very lucky that in most of my jobs now, I’m able to just be a “funny person” as opposed to a “funny black person.” I perform at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, where my race and gender are rarely pointed out. I just worked on a new sketch show for Fox called “Party Over Here,” where sketches were written for me because of my funny and not my race. MTV’s “Girl Code” was one hundred percent me… that show allowed me to really fine tune my comedic voice. Now, I’m currently writing and about to star in my own scripted show for MTV, where race and gender play a role but are not the star. Maybe you’ll see me take off a wig or get my brown makeup on the cheek of a white person and then discreetly try to rub it off without them noticing… I mean, you guys, there are so many funny (and some not funny) stories that people of color can tell without race having to be mentioned overtly.

You know, I think Viola Davis really hit a home run with “And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
I constantly see shows that seemingly have diversity but fail to realize that you don’t have to hide people of color in the background and in under-five roles. You can give them fully three-dimensional characters who return in multiple (dare I say all?) the episodes in a season.

So, when I think about being a mildly successful person of color in Hollywood, I think that change IS happening. If you look at me on paper, I shouldn’t have the things I have. I should thank Queen Latifah, Gabourey Sidibe, and Monique for being trailblazers by not adjusting their bodies to industry standards. Their careers have made it easier for me to exist in this world. Also changing what the standard is; is hard. Maybe now you’re thinking, “Nicole shouldn’t the best person get the job, regardless of race or gender?” Yeah, they should, but in this business, “best” is subjective, and people tend to like what they know. And more times than not, it’s a bunch of old white men making the decisions. If you’re white, you know white… which isn’t on purpose, it’s just embedded in our heads. Systemic racism/preferential treatment is real, and it’s something I could go on forever about but, my friends, I have a word limit.
Listen, I don’t wish we existed in a colorblind society, because what a boring fucking world that would be. Also, saying you’re colorblind is essentially taking the color away from people, just lumping everyone together into one big beige ball. I don’t ever want to be just a basic bitch lumped together with a bunch of other basic bitches in one big basic bitch beige ball. I want to wave my color proudly. I want to bring my color and background to the table, because it makes life/entertainment more interesting. And, I want people to embrace differences and maybe step outside of their comfort zones. I know I think we just as people in entertainment and in life need to be inclusive… I don’t know. I hope that wasn’t too ramble-y.

Okay bye bye!

_

_

_

(Editor’s Note:

I agree. Both the casting directors and writers need to be taken to task for their shameless inability to use their imaginations in creating roles for people outside the straight, white cis-gender male gaze.)

_

_

 

An this is another excellent article about Sleepy Hollow and the importance of representation for WoC, From The Mary Sue:

Spoilers for all of Sleepy Hollow to follow.

“Ichabod, everything we’re striving for here, fighting with our dying breath to create for this country a free land of opportunity for all Miss Abigail Mills represents. She is the American dream.”—Benjamin Franklin 2×18: Tempus Fugit

If someone had told me that in 2016 Bonnie Bennett would be practically leading The Vampire Diaries and Abbie Mills would be dead on Sleepy Hollow, I would have called them a liar. Abbie was safeshe was the main character on a FOX show with a huge cult following!and despite the writing failures, there was no denying that Abbie was important to the show. Then she was killed off, and I was forced to realize that there was no safety.

Throughout science fiction and fantasy there have been female characters of color, but many have been either hated (Doctor Who’s Martha Jones), sidelined (BBC Merlin’s Gwen), or just never allowed to real their full potential (Teen Wolf’s Kira Yukimura). There are others that exist, but on smaller shows on cable television: Z Nation,Hunters, Dark Matter, and Killjoys, to name a few.Sleepy Hollow held the hopes of a huge population of black fans who were looking for a place on a major network in genre television.

The announcement of Nicole Beharie as the lead actress of Sleepy Hollow was exciting, but I remember that year was also the year Elementarycame out and there was a lot of joy about seeing more women of color leading a show that wasn’t written by Shonda Rhimes (she can’t do everything y’all). In season one, despite a few pitfalls, the show really balanced out its core cast and the intense chemistry between Ichabod and Abbie (Ichabbie) is probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. Not only was there Abbie, but she had a sister, Jenny; and Frank Irving was a black male character in power who was kind, wise and had a family of his own. We had multiple layered POC and it was excellent.

Then in season two, they began to bring the foolishness.

abbiewalking

Abbie, Jenny, and Frank took a back seat to the Crane Family Viewing Hour and we were treated to the angst of Ichabod’s relationships with his wife Katrina and evil son-demon, Jeremy aka Henry aka Horseman of War. Slowly but surely Abbie’s narrative dwindled into a single episode that was totally centered around her, “Mama,” and while we were shown a tiny sliver of what the show could be, it returned to assuming that the only way it would prosper is by Crane leading the path. Even though people kept talking about how important Abbie was to the show.

People were screaming for more Abbie at the end of season two and not just screen time, we wanted Abbie to have a life. Despite living in Sleepy Hollow her whole life Abbie had not one friend to go to. With the exception of her sister, Jenny, Abbie was denied having real outside relationships with anybody throughout her run. That was despite the immense thirst coming from: Hawley aka Worst, Andy aka Cho-tastic, Random Angel Guy who never came back, Hot Camera Guy who never came back, and Ichabod Crane himself. Meanwhile not only did Ichabod have his relationships at the very forefront of the show, he was allowed to have friendships and his random knowledge almost always led to the resolution of the story’s main mystery.

But, like a thirsty man in the desert, fans hoped beyond hope that season three would be different. With Katrina dead and Hawley gone it was time for Abbie (and Jenny) to get their screen time back. Then everything changed when Betsy Ross appeared.

Betsy Ross will go down, in my humble opinion, as one of the stupidest things this show did. For a show that was celebrated in season one for its diversity, it continued to peel back its characters of color and add the most irrelevant white characters they could dust up. Betsy Ross was the cream of the crop, second only to Hawley, in being a huge waste of time. Plus, guess who got a relationship story again? Oh that’s right: Ichabod. One in the past with Betsy, and one in present day with a colonial history-buff Zoe.

What was Abbie’s storyline? Well, she got sucked into a tree once. After being brought back into reality with help from Ichabod, Abbie did have a fairly good storyline dealing with her PTSD from being in a world devoid of time, but even that in the larger picture was too little too late. Even her eventual relationship with Daniel, her boss and former flame, got very little development and the timeline itself is wonky at best.

Then after all that, she died since she “served her purpose” by helping Ichabod. Excuse me while I go scream into my pillow.

angryabbie

Abbie’s death isn’t upsetting just because she died, but because the show really thinks it can survive without her. The actress wanted to leave, and rightly so, considering the material she was getting, but that is the problem—the story made her want to leave. Sleepy Hollow, whether it wants to admit it or not, got its fanbase because of diversity and because of viewers who enjoyed seeing Abbie Mills as the lead characters. There are people who, despite the poor second season, still stuck with the show because they wanted to see Nicole as Abbie Mills.

Let us not forget that during the Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. asked actress Nichelle Nichols to stay on Star Trek because of what her image meant to black female viewers. The sad reality is that hunger, that need to see ourselves, still exists in media and with every step forward, there are several steps back that only reinforce the need to see the few that do it well survive.

As a black woman I don’t just want Empire andBlack-ish. We don’t want television that people assume is just “for us,” we want to be a part of stories that people have assumed we have no place in.

Abbie Mills was supposed to be our Buffy, our Scully. Not because black women or other women of color don’t enjoy those characters, but it means something to see a woman who is brown and beautiful and smart be on screen, being called “The American Dream” in a world that constantly questions your humanity. Abbie Mills held in her the hopes and possibilities of what a dark skinned black woman could be on a network sci-fi show. And it failed.

abbiesavior

Sleepy Hollow reinforced the expendability that black bodies are in genre television, and proved that protagonist protection does not extend to us. As I watch shows like Elementary, Wynonna Earp,Killjoys, and Z Nation that have non-white characters as “leads,” I fear for their safety constantly.

We are not safe. Not in this world or others. I mourn Abbie Mills and as I look at my old television flame, The Vampire Diaries, I just keep hoping that Bonnie Bennett will make it out alive because I need someone to.

Princess Weekes is a full-time writer, part-time Barista originally from Brooklyn, but camping out in Queens, NY. When she isn’t catching up on Netflix or stressing about student loans, she reads about dead white royality. She runs a small YouTube Channel under the username Melina Pendulum and hopes to someday finish that novel. Find her on Twitter orYoutube.

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

Follow The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr,Pinterest, & Google+.

As a black woman I don’t just want Empire and Black-ish. We don’t want television that people assume is just “for us,” we want to be a part of stories that people have assumed we have no place in.

Abbie Mills was supposed to be our Buffy, our Scully. Not because black women or other women of color don’t enjoy those characters, but it means something to see a woman who is brown and beautiful and smart be on screen, being called “The American Dream” in a world that constantly questions your humanity. Abbie Mills held in her the hopes and possibilities of what a dark skinned black woman could be on a network sci-fi show. And it failed.

@abbiemillsamericandream is this the one you were just talking about? *runs to read*

 

__

__

*(Editor’s Note: Yes, I’m still grieving over the loss of Abbie Mills. I will never forgive Fox for this. And I should have known better after the cancelation of Now and Again, and Firefly. I’ve been burned by Fox too many times to ever trust them again.  Abbie was one of the primary reasons I started this blog, and one of my first posts was about her existence in the genre. My statement still stands, as important as ever:

WoC like to have adventures, too.

Its so sad that the PTB, can’t see beyond the white male narratives they like, to the idea that ALL the other people who exist in this world, want to see reflections of themselves that don’t tear them down and break them up .

This is why representation behind the scenes is so incredibly important. Its extremely obvious that the white, middle class, straight men, who run these systems, cannot/will not see beyond their own whiteness. If whiteness is universal, then how hard is it to apply the universality of their emotions to other people? To understand that PoC, LGBT, Latinx, and others fantasize about many of the same things they do, (being beautiful, being powerful, loved, and special,) and make us part of the narrative as something more than ” expendable help”. But what’s really sad is, not only are our lived experiences not safe, we aren’t even allowed to have fantasies where we are safe from harm.

_

_

_

Not Your Asian Ninja: How the Marvel Cinematic Universe Keeps Failing Asian-Americans

Daredevil’s second season was great—except for the endless Asian stereotyping. When will the Marvel Cinematic Universe wake up?

I liked Daredevil Season 2 a lot. I didn’t like it quite as much as Season 1, but it was always going to be impossible to find someone to live up to Vincent D’Onofrio’s take on Wilson Fisk (who still effortlessly steals the few scenes he gets this season). But the writing and the acting for Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, is compelling as hell, enough to spark a lively debate about the appeal of vigilante justice and gun violence in American culture.

The tangled, messy web of corruption behind the death of the Punisher’s family, the complicity of the state and the media in creating him, his turnaround in becoming a criminal defendant in the Trial of the Century, and the moral ambiguity of Castle’s past as a soldier who exposes the American public’s hypocrisy by bringing the brutal logic of the overseas War on Terror stateside—that’s all great stuff.

The problem is all that great stuff is only half of Daredevil Season 2. There’s a whole other half that’s almost totally disconnected from the Frank Castle plot, the Nelson and Murdock law firm, and New York City politics. There’s a full 50 percent of DaredevilSeason 2 that’s total crap, and that half is the part with the ninjas. (x)

 

Why Doesn’t Hollywood Cast Asian Actors for Anime Adaptations?

It’s been recently announced that Adam Wingard’s American adaptation of the popular anime/manga Death Note will be coming out on Netflix.

The news ripped the Band-Aid over the still-sore wound that the movie, produced by Dan Lin, Roy Lee, and Heroes’s Masi Oka, will star Nat Wolff and Margaret Qualley. In case you couldn’t tell by the names, both actors are white. Like, very white.

Among the chorus of voices decrying the latest case of Hollywood whitewashing was Asian-American actor and Death Note fan, Edward Zo, who brought both a personal and insider perspective on the situation.

His video, Racist Hollywood?, has been seen almost 57,000 times and in it, he speaks in detail about how his excitement over news of the adaptation quickly turned to ash when he found out he wouldn’t be “the right fit.”

 

“Through the grapevine, I was told to my face that they were not looking to see Asian actors for the role of Light Yagami,” he said.

While I’m sure Wolff and Qualley are talented performers who love their families and pay their taxes, their casting further illustrates the gulf of opportunity that exists between white actors and those of other ethnicities that was called out so well by Viola Davis at last year’s Emmys. (x)

_

http://www.vulture.com/2016/04/hollywood-black-actors.html_

_

 

*(Editor’s Note : On Latinx Representation:

I feel about this issue, the same way I feel about Asian Representation in Hollywood. It is not Black People’s job to fight for other people’s representation. It is other culture’s  job to speak up and let Hollywood know they are dissatisfied with their treatment, and only they know how they would like to be depicted onscreen.

My mom has a saying, “A closed mouth does not get fed.” If Latinx people are upset about their treatment in media, they need to let the PTB know it, and why. Don’t yell at black people about it. We’re not the ones who make such decisions. Tell those who can do something about it.

Black people have enough to do fighting our own battles, we cant fight everyone else’s too. But what we can do is support Latinx/Hispanic actors and signal boost any messages Latinx want to send out into the world. If you put yourselves out there, we got your back. We can do that.)

 –

 –

To that point:

anonymous asked:

I think y’all should be grateful that you get to see black actors in MCU because I’m latina and there’s literally no Latino/a characters in MCU. Like none.

 

I’m not in support of “Keep white people out of the black panther movie”  because I do not want Black Panther to be written off as just a black character IE since he’s for black people only I don’t have to empathize with him. He’s off to the side away from my favs.

No. I want black kids to feel proud and I also want white kids to grow up in an a film environment where their heroes don’t have to look like them to be heroes basically how all minorities have to watch films anyway.

I am in support of “Don’t let white people overrun the film” but a small cameo like Sam Wilson in Ant-man would be alright with me.

There are hundreds of all white movies without a single solitary character of colour. Hollywood is still erasing us from our own films; Asian people aren’t even allowed to play Asian characters. Hollywood is still portraying us as stereotypes.

We have no problems empathising with white people without seeing ourselves represented. If they’re going to write t’challa off as “just a black character” because there aren’t any prominent white people in the movie, they’re racist period point blank. There’s absolutely no reason we should keep having to accommodate whiteness when white people already have everything. Stop giving white people the impression that they absolutely need to be represented in marginalised spaces in order to empathise with people of colour. This is the type of thinking that leads to all white dystopian films where white people are the ones being oppressed.

I’m not adverse to relevant non black characters being in it (i.e. I wouldn’t mind seeing Steve or Bucky in a cameo, I’d have a blast if they showed up) but I don’t subscribe to the idea that we owe white people representation under the assumption that they won’t know how to relate to us without a white body on screen. They’re more than capable of relating to us without having to use a white body as a proxy, they just choose not to because that’s how racism works. They can deal with it just like we do in pretty much every other film.

Source:
The Bait and Switch Debate:
Remember that whole brouhaha over queer baiting, with shows constantly teasing Queer representation, without ever promising to follow through, just to keep certain shippers  watching a show (although now, they seem to have exchanged that bait and switch tactic with bait and kill). Well, this is the same thing only its called “race baiting”. It’s a common  tactic where shows claim, and sometimes even promise diversity, start those first couple of seasons with a very diverse cast, and over the years, slowly whittle out all the PoC , replacing them with white males. Heroes did it, (they were a lot more subtle about it), The Walking Dead still can’t keep any black men in its cast, and  Sleepy Hollow clumsily, stupidly, engaged in this practice.
http://www.forharriet.com/2015/02/television-networks-love-our-ratings.html#axzz48Ixk82v9
 
http://www.theblackgirltv.com/the-bait-and-switch-sleepy-hollow/
 
http://www.btchflcks.com/2015/08/the-veil-of-diversity-in-sleepy-hollow.html#.VzKCotT3arV
Black Nonbelievers, Inc.

Walking by Sight, NOT Faith!

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

%d bloggers like this: