It’s A Black Thang II (On Tumblr)

This was an old post that somehow got switched to another blog! But theres no such thing as an out of date laugh, (although I could be wrong about that.) Well, I hope it brings smiles to your day, your week, your month, or even your year.

 

 

Man, we just don’t get good Star Trek meta, like this, anymore…

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vulcandroid

i will never be over the fact that during first contact a human offered their hand to a vulcan and the vulcan was just like “wow humans are fucking wild” and took it

 

roachpatrol

Humanity’s first contact with Vulcans was some guy going “I’m down to fuck.”

Vulcans’ first contact with Humans was an emphatic “Sure.”

 

lilian-cho

@sineala

star-lord

#iiiiiiiiiiiiii mean vulcans had been watching humans for a long time#they knew the significance of a handshake but still#they had to find some fast and loose ambassador#willing to fuckin make out with a human for the sake of not offending them on first contact#lmao#star trek

give me the story of this fast and loose vulcan

 

moonsofavalon

“sir…these…these humans…they greet each other by…” *glances around before furtively whispering* “byclasping hands…”

*prolonged silence* “oh my…”

“sir…sir how will we make first contact with them? surely we…we cannot refuse this handclasping ritual, they will take it as an insult, but what vulcan would agree to such a distasteful and uncomfortable ritual??”

*several pensive moments later* “contact the vulcan high command and tell them to send us kuvak. i once saw that crazy son of a bitch arm wrestle a klingon, he’ll put his hands on anything”

 

evilminji

Elsewhere, w/ kuvak: “….my day has come.”

 

lierdumoa

The vulcan who made first contact with humans is named Solkar guys. Y’all just be makin’ up names for characters that already have names.

Bonus: here’s a screencap of Solkar doing the “my body is ready” pose right before he shakes Zefram Cochrane’s hand:

adreadfulidea

 

I swear Vulcans only come in two types and they are “distant xenophobes” or “horny on main for humanity”. Also apparently this guy is Spock’s great-grandfather and frankly that explains everything.

Source: lycanthropiste st

 

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Black Hogwarts was tending several months ago. Yes, this is still funny as hell! (Number five is my favorite, and check out The Sortin’ Durag.)

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Tumblr would not be Tumblr without calling out racism in fandom, and we have to keep explaining this multiple times cuz, as my Mom used to say, ya’ll hard-headed, and you don’t listen!

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Carrying the fandom load

It does get tiring at times staying conscious of bigoted tropes in fandom, deciding not to support racist art, wondering if a quote is appropriative of Jewish experiences, discarding a homophobic fanwork idea, and more.

So as a Fandom Old I can see why some fans long for the “good old days.” Back then anything went! Total creative freedom! We were wild and unfettered! None of these long-winded discussions, we just went and did it and did not give a single fuck!

Except freedom wasn’t for everyone, was it? You only had that total freedom if you were unaffected by fandom’s racism, homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism, ableism, and a host of other bigotries that are a reflection of the world we live in.

Fandom was never the carefree, escapist enterprise some of us like to think it was. It’s just that minority fans were bearing the load of others’ freedom in silence. Too often, fans who were marginalized in real life could not escape to fandom because fandom would uncritically celebrate their oppression and trauma. And if they dared to speak about it they were bullied and shouted down into silence, into leaving.

I speak in the past tense but this is still ongoing, obviously. Fans of marginalized identities are a little more vocal now, but are facing a sustained and vicious backlash that accuses them of being “bullies” and starting “discourse” and “drama” and of “virtue signalling.”

It’s not about discourse or virtue, though. It’s about fans being told that they are not welcome unless they bite their tongues, grin, and go along with a thousand stings and slaps in the very spaces they go to have fun. It’s about fans having to watch characters who look like them be constantly erased and demonized. It’s about fans having to spend endless amounts of time and energy educating other fans about their oppression when all they’d like to do is unwind after a long day made longer by those very issues.

It’s not about virtue. It’s about people.

The thing is, fans who criticize minority fans and their allies for “discourse” aren’t angry about the fact that fandom puts these psychological burdens on minority fans. They’re mad about having to share a tiny little part of the burden minority fans, most visibly Black women, have been carrying for too long. In the minds of these “discourse”-critical fans the burden of considering the impact of fandom and fanworks is not theirs to bear. It is the lot of fans who are not them, “others,” to pay the cost for the majority’s creative freedom. The very suggestion that the load exists, and worse, that all of fandom should share in it so marginalized fans don’t carry it so disproportionately, is enough to make a lot of fans uncomfortable. I know, because I feel that discomfort at times, too.

The thing is, the load of thinking about marginalization in fandom spaces was always mine to bear. It’s every fan’s responsibility to be conscious of how they create and consume fanwork so that they don’t hurt other fans, so fandom can be inclusive and fun for everyone.

No, it’s not pleasant. It’s not fun to always watch yourself and second guess your choices, to fall short anyway and be called out and confront the fact that you have so many unconscious biases and have hurt others. I get it. I do. I want to think of myself as a good person. I don’t like admitting to wrongdoing. I hate challenging myself. I don’t want to think about this hard stuff. I just want to have fun!

But think about how much LESS fun it is when it’s your own humanity on the line. Many marginalized fans don’t have the luxury of just letting go and having fun, not when they always have to brace themselves for the next psychological assault.

These fans have been carrying this fandom burden and are punished for saying it’s too heavy. If you’re feeling a little less feather light in fannish activities than you used to, that’s a good sign! It means you’re starting to carry, in a very small measure, the fandom load of consciousness. It’s something you should be carrying as part of a community, and chances are it’s still not nearly as heavy a load as many marginalized fans are still made to bear.

A community joins together, watches out for its members, shares in the good and the bad. If some members are asked to bear the costs of others’ fun and either stay silent about it or leave, then the promise of community rings pretty hollow, doesn’t it? Sometimes discomfort is a good thing, and if my small discomfort means I am sharing in a tiny measure of my rightful load in fandom spaces, then it is a very good thing indeed.

 

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I think I may have posted this here before, and its definitely not funny, but at the same time, its the funniest shit I have ever encountered. People who are so incredibly pressed about having all those “icky” Brown and Black men in their favorite media, so incredibly adamant that the only valid type of “ship, is between two White men, that they are willing to Photoshop them out, for their White faves.

Wow!

 stitchmediamix

So I’m writing something about how characters and actors of color are literally cut out of images in order to center white characters/actors (usually for shipping purposes) and I’d like to be able to actually link to examples of instances where that’s happened.

I’ve got an image of John and Daisy where John has been replaced by Driver (courtesy of @xprincessrey ’s recent post in the fandom racism tag) and SEVERAL images where Iris West has been erased and replaced by Caitlin that I referenced in my presentation on the misogynoir directed towards her.

I need more examples though and I honestly don’t know how to find what I’m looking for. And… I’m really bad at finding images on the internet.

So if you have collected any receipts on this particular fandom phenomenon where fans cut out characters/actors of color from images in order to focus on a white character or ship, please let me know. I’ll link to your post on the subject if you’ve made one and give you credit for finding the images that I use if you want it.

I need examples of:

  • Anthony Mackie being cut out of press images for either Winter Soldier or Civil War
  • Scott/Tyler Posey being cut out of Teen Wolf press images or scenes in the show
  • Photo manips where Finn/John Boyega has been replaced by Kylo/Adam
  • Any other fandom that cut characters of color out in this way!

I’m writing a thing and I’m working on the header image already but I’d like more examples because man… People need to know that this is a thing that happens and pictures help drive the whole thing in.

(Also, unfortunately I have no idea how y’all  can submit straight up images to me because I don’t use tumblr submit for several reasons, BUT you can always DM me images on twitter or use Tumblr IM if you don’t have links  to images, but want to send them to me anyway.)

If you can share this with your followers, that’d be awesome.

elandrialore

R3ylo manips

Original photoshoot with John and Daisy

St3r3k manip

Original promo image

St3r3k manip

Original image of Tyler Posey, Crystal Reed, and Tyler Hoechlin

St3r3k manip

Original image of Tyler Posey and Dylan O’Brien

St3r3k manip

Original image with Tyler Posey and Dylan O’Brien

kyberfox

@stitchmediamix

Here’s a video of Finn getting cut out not just of his own confession scene – a character defining moment for him – and Kylo being inserted, he’s also replaced in the hug he and Rey shares. xx

The OP of that then made a gif set of some of the scene they’d cut where they replace Finn with Kylo because they were so proud of their work. x

And here Kylo is edited in instead of Finn in the scene where Rey gives Finn a “wow he looks good” look at Jakku. x

uprisingofcolor

@stitchmediamix

Here’s an entire gif set of Jake Pentecost getting cut out of his own trailer to center his white co star.

Oh, and here’s OP’s Response to @kyberfox calling them out (X), they take it about as well as you’d expect. This happened a day or so(?) after the trailer dropped, just for a frame of reference.

diversehighfantasy

The Doctor Who series 3 “Fix It”:

Here, they didn’t erase Martha Jones entirely, they made her a third wheel in a series the fandom felt Rose was rightfully entitled to. IMO this is as much of an in-your-face “fuck you” to Martha as pretending she didn’t exist.

Britchell. This is a more obscure ship, but it relentlessly erased, sidelined and minimized one of my favorite characters, Annie Sawyer of Being Human (UK) for being romantically involved with Mitchell, played by Aidan Turner, who also played Kili in The Hobbit. Britchell was a crossover between Mitchell and another character played by the actor who played Kili’s brother Fili in The Hobbit. Anyway. Britchell is the biggest ship in the Being Human fandom to this day.

Annie x Mitchell: http://reyesbidal.tumblr.com/post/53885860951

Britchell (in a nutchell):

nerdsagainstfandomracism

In Shadowhunters Jalec and Clalec shippers always use Malec scenes for their manips in order to erase Magnus. Here’s an example of a Clalec manip (x). I stay away from their tags and blacklist Jalecs and Clalecs on sight, but pretty sure Google has plenty of more examples. Luke is constantly excluded from the group fanarts, fan videos, etc.

Also, Rickylers in TWD always try to erase Michonne from her own narrative.

Source: stitchmediamix fandom racismracism in fandom Erasure ShippingLong Post white prioritization ReblogMod P.

 

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Tag me! I’m Blacktose Intolerant!

anonymous asked:

so you’re jamaican and not regular black?

yourbigsisnissi answered:

What the hell is regular black?

 

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Tweets from Satan!

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Ravelry Bans Trump Support

Remember that conversation we had about racism in the Crafts community? Well, there has been a lot of fall out from that beginning. I feel like at least part of all this began with the pink pussy hats in 2016, and the conversations surrounding the use of the hats to represent ALL women, because not all women have vaginas, and  pink pussy hats don’t actually represent WoC. That opened the door to the discussion of how WoC are sometimes excluded from events on Ravelry that are supposed to be representative of all women, like the knit breasts, for women who have had mastectomies, that are also pink.

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Mostly this began in January, on Instagram, and has finally culminated in Ravelry putting its foot down, and making a definitive statement. Trump is a White Nationalist/Supremacist, and support for him and his policies, is support for those issues, too.

In January, Karen Templar gushed about her upcoming trip to India using some unflattering and insensitive comparisons, that upset PoC in the crafting  community. She has since made the effort to learn from the experience by listening to the people she hurt, and apologizing for any harm she caused.

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*Words matter

I have hurt, angered and disappointed a lot of people this week with my insensitive post about my upcoming trip to India and my handling of the response, and I am deeply sorry about it. I’ve spent the week listening hard, learning (in part about how much more I have to learn), and thinking about all of the things I can do — particularly here on the blog — to be more inclusive and supportive of people of color. I can’t take any of this week back, but I will work hard to do better going forward.

For those who didn’t see anything offensive in my post, I feel it’s important to spell it out for everyone to see and think about, and hopefully learn from:

First, it reads like I’m a tourist looking for an exotic location for my next selfie, which is inherently horrible — India is not a set or a backdrop for white people. It reads that way because I didn’t take the time to talk about why I’m going, which is to meet textile artisans and learn more about their craft. I’m coming to India from a place of respect for the relevance of textiles in the country’s liberation from British rule.

Second, and more egregiously, when I said that to my anxiety-ridden teenage self the offer of travel to India felt like an offer of travel to Mars, I gave the impression that I equate the people of India with aliens — literally alienizing people who aren’t like me. It doesn’t matter that that’s not how I intended it. By being careless with my words, I perpetuated the harmful notion that Indians (and POC in general) are “other,” or even to be feared. People who are the target of racism every day were rightly offended by it, as were others. And I am so sorry.

Third, I compounded the Mars problem by bringing it up again (to say that my grown-up self might even consider space travel if I got the chance) by referencing an interview I had heard about the impending “colonization” of Mars. I brought up colonization in a piece about a country marred by colonialism and didn’t see it. Everyone who was shocked at that was right to be, and I’m shocked at myself.

That’s not comprehensive, but it’s the main thrust of it. It took women of color pointing this out for me to see it — starting with the annotation that @thecolormustard posted in her Story — which is not their responsibility, and I am thankful to them for taking the time. If you’re struggling to understand the response, please just sit with it and give it some serious thought, from their point of view.

I apologize profusely to everyone I hurt, and to everyone who has taken any kind of heat for calling me out on it. I was wrong, and the women who took the risk to speak out were right. I’ll be doing the work, sharing the resources*, and doing my part to raise the visibility and celebrate the actual beautiful diversity of this community.

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*Currently readingThe Origin of Others by Toni Morrison (recommended by @nappyknitter). If you haven’t read Morrison’s novels, get on that too.

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What happened with Karen opened up a number of discussions in the community about how BIPoC are treated, and what White people within the communities can do to make everyone feel more welcoming, with some members of the community showing their true faces about political topics that don’t directly concern them, and they remain willfully ignorant about. 

There are two ways people can walk in this world. Karen is an example of the first way. When told they are harming the people they are bumping into with their jagged edges, they  make at least some effort to smooth those edges, and be less harmful to those who come in contact with them. This takes a certain amount of listening, personal work, and a little discomfort. 
The second way, are those people who make no effort to smooth their rough edges, take offense at being asked not to harm people, and not only don’t care who they hurt, actually seem to be quite gleeful about it.

Ravelry decided, after some extreme events last week, which I will get into in a moment, to ban speaking about trump and his administration, as he and his policies support White Nationalism, and  doing so creates an unsafe space for BIPoC, and others.

 

 

“There are people who have been talking down to other people because they can’t afford anything better than craft yarn from Michael’s,” she said. “Knitting has always been political, whether you believe it or not.”

 

*https://www.theverge.com/interface/2019/6/25/18716342/ravelry-trump-ban-knitting-white-supremacy-facebook

 

*From Ravelry:

 

We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry.

This includes support in the form of forum posts, projects, patterns, profiles, and all other content. Note that your project data will never be deleted. We will never delete your Ravelry project data for any reason and if a project needs to be removed from the site, we will make sure that you have access to your data. If you are permanently banned from Ravelry, you will still be able to access any patterns that you purchased. Also, we will make sure that you receive a copy of your data.

We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.

Policy notes:

  • You can still participate if you do in fact support the administration, you just can’t talk about it here.
  • We are not endorsing the Democrats nor banning Republicans.
  • We are definitely not banning conservative politics. Hate groups and intolerance are different from other types of political positions.
  • We are not banning people for past support.
  • Do not try to weaponize this policy by entrapping people who do support the Trump administration into voicing their support.
  • Similarly, antagonizing conservative members for their unstated positions is not acceptable.

You can help by flagging any of the following items if they constitute support for Trump or his administration:

  • Projects: Unacceptable projects will be provided to the member or made invisible to others.
  • Patterns: Unacceptable patterns will be returned to drafts.
  • Forum posts: right now, only posts written after Sunday, June 23rd at 8 AM Eastern
  • Profiles: Unacceptable avatars or profile text will be removed.

Much of this policy was first written by a roleplaying game site, not unlike Ravelry but for RPGs, named RPG.net. We thank them for their thoughtful work. For citations/references, see this post on RPG.net: https://forum.rpg.net/index.php?threads/new-ban-do-not-po…

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*Its very interesting that those who are opposed to the ban on trump and hate speech, are not talking about the event that triggered this reaction from Ravelry. 
See, What Had Happened Was:
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Now lets be clear, trump supporters are not banned from Ravelry. What they are  is banned from talking about and supporting the policies of him and his administration, thereby creating a  hostile, and  unsafe, emotional environment for those people who are directly affected by his racist policies.
To their credit, most of the members on Ravelry are perfectly fine with this, and support it. There are a handful who hate it, but  they don’t have big enough platforms to affect anything, and they can always leave and form their own crafts platforms, dedicated to victimizing people who don’t look like them. 
The people who are against this ban have never been on the receiving end of trump’s rhetoric, so its easy for them to take offense and claim they are being oppressed, in the absence of any actual experience with oppression. Ravelry has always been a comfortable space for them, where they can say whatever they please, without regard to how what they say, affects other community members.
Many of these people claim they are leaving Ravelry because they feel the ban is wrong, and claim that they are being banned themselves. They are not. Go to Ravelry and get the actual source of what was said.  (And NO! Its not censorship, since Ravelry is a privately owned company.) Such people just cannot discuss they’re repellent political views on the site. This is not any different from bans on other forums moderating hate speech and open White supremacy. The only difference here is that talking about trump and his policies are now  equated with hate speech. 
My question for them is this: Why do you think you cannot participate in this community without emotionally harming the other members? Especially after people have repeatedly told you that what you are doing and saying is harmful to them? What about their comfort? They just want to look for patterns and talk about yarn too, without being inundated with racist imagery, and hate speech. Why can’t this space be safe and apolitical for them?
What people like that are forgetting is that marginalized people do not have the luxury of escaping from politics just because we don’t feel like dealing. Its very easy to claim to be apolitical when the politics being espoused do not personally affect you. This is especially true in cis-, straight, White spaces, where the marginalized can be blindsided, at any moment, by a White person’s thoughtless comments, and  sometimes active malice. Working in a diner is not a political act, nor is grocery shopping, or working in a crafts store, but it quickly becomes political when a marginalized person is subjected to a screaming rant about how some random White person voted for trump, and people need to build the wall! Or when you stumble across Confederate flags, when all you wanted was a  pattern for a baby blanket. 
What’s interesting, and its something that should most definitely set to rest the idea of White women’s innocence regarding racism, is most of the people hating on this ban are women, and it was women who were heavily involved in the doxxing and harassment of the person who reported the hate speech patterns to Ravelry moderators. You can’t blame this on some nameless cabal of Maga hat wearing White male nerds.
Fortunately one of the good things to come out of all this is at least some White women are trying to be better people. They re having the discussions about themselves and thinking about the issue, and considering ways in which they can walk through this world without harming others.

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“We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy,” the site said in a statement explaining the decision. “Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.”

Curatorial vs. Transformative Fandom

The basic definition of the two is fandom that is practiced in one of two ways by either collecting information about the source material, or transforming/changing the source material to best interact with it. Sometimes there is a degree of overlap, but the motivations for the overlap tend to differ. Male fans generally engage in curatorial fandom, where the degree of fandom is noted by how many details of the source material can be collected and/or memorized, from figurines, to dialogue, to plot details. There is sometimes quantification involved such as rankings and listings. See those YouTube videos and posts that list episodes in a series from best to worst, or movies in a franchise. Curatorial fandom does not require intimate engagement with the material. One example is the movie Endgame, where male fans got caught up on attempting to parse how the Time travel worked in the movie, while female fans on Tumblr wrote meta-analysis about the different character’s psychology and emotions.

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Transformative fandom, as primarily practiced by women, involves a deep interaction with the source material, along with the collection of details for transforming the source material into something else, usually something that resonates with that particular fan, such as cosplay, fan art, fan fiction, and meta- analysis.

This is not a hard and fast rule, as there can be some degree of overlap. There are plenty of men involved in cosplay, fan art, and meta-analysis, and there are plenty of women who memorize dialogue, and collect information about their favorite shows.

Transformative fandom seeks to change the source material to reflect its needs, or analyse the source material for why those needs aren’t being  met, and how it could. One of the tenets of Curatorial fandom is that it doesn’t question the source material, simply accepting it. Having not been the primary audience for much of the source material of many fandoms, Transformative fandom this is mostly, but not exclusively, engaged in by PoC, LGBTQ, and White women.

 

It has been speculated that one of the reasons white male fans have been reacting in fandom the way they have is that Curatorial fandom is in opposition to Transformative fandom, which seeks to change the canon source material, thereby making the collection of facts and figures obsolete or irrelevant. Such men have defined their fandomhood, sometimes their very identities, by the amount of knowledge they possess about their particular fandom, and in their minds, Transformative fandom seeks to arbitrarily, and unnecessarily, change it. So, beyond the idea that they are no longer the audience for the material (something which is not ever going to change) is the false idea that female fans are taking the material and making random changes to it in the form of fanfiction and fan art. Helping matters along is that Speculative and Fantastic fiction is becoming more diverse, with creators changing the canon sources themselves by changing characters to women (Thor), stating the sexual orientations of older characters (Iceman), or making other characters PoC (Candace Patton as Iris West.)

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https://fanlore.org/wiki/Curative_Fandom

Curative fandom is all about knowledge. It’s about making sure that everything is lined up and in order, knowing how it works, and finding out which one is the best. What is the Doctor Who canon? Who is the best Doctor? How do Weeping Angels work? Etc etc. Curative fandom is p. much the norm on reddit, especially r/gallifrey. Transformative fandom is about change. Let’s write fic! Let’s make art! Let’s make a fan vid! Let’s cosplay! Let’s somehow change the text.

 

Transformative fandom seeks to interact on an emotional level with the source material. It wants to question it, and work within it, which is why so much of it centers on characters and relationships between the  characters, while taking place in different environments. I know plenty of people consider Coffee Shop AUs to be cliche, but it is a way for female fans to self insert, while analyzing the characters, by changing the environment in which the story takes place. It is not about removing dramatic impetus from the source, but understanding who the characters are, how they interact, and giving themselves the happy endings that so much of the source material in Fantastic fiction disdains. Its also a way for marginalized people to imagine themselves in source material in which they are not represented. The Mary Sue, the Self  Insert, and Shipping, are all attempts by Transformative fandom to interact personally  with the source material.

If Curatorial fans ,who are well represented in the source material, imagine themselves as being one of the characters in it, then Transformative fans like to imagine interacting with the characters in it. Its not so much that they want to be Buffy, or Willow, but self inserting as a friend of Buffy, gives such fans a way to express their love and affection for any of the other characters she may interact with in the show, like Spike, Anya, or Giles. Or putting themselves in the situations the characters encounter. many of the tropes of fan fiction come from female fans imagining what they would do if they found themselves within the source material, like defeating the villain, having love affairs , or offering comfort when their favorite characters are in pain.

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https://www.vox.com/2016/6/2/11531406/why-were-terrified-fanfiction-teen-girls

My preferred explanation is the idea that the vast majority of what we watch is from the male perspective – authored, directed, and filmed by men, and mostly straight white men at that. Fan fiction gives women and other marginalised groups the chance to subvert that perspective, to fracture a story and recast it in her own way. … It often feels as if there isn’t much space for difference in the dominant cultural narratives; in fandom, by design, there’s space for all.

 

Another issue is the devaluation of women’s interests and hobbies. Because Transformative fandom is mostly engaged in by women, there is a tendency to disregard it, along with its problems. There is also a certain level of mockery and disgust, whereas the same level of disgust is not aimed at, for example, men’s sports fandoms, which can be far more violent. Narratives aimed at a female audience, or interests and hobbies of women and other marginalized people are often disregarded, the way movies aimed at Black audiences were often disregarded or considered of no importance by White audiences. Don’t believe me?  Name the top three favorite films in the Black community. From before 2000!

What is not often discussed, and this is where devaluation comes in, is that Transformative fandom also has its contingent of harassment and bigotry,   but because its women, its less obvious than the harassment engaged in by Curatorial fans,  dismissed as not being important, and mocked as fans just being  crazy. Bigotry in Transformative fandom changes source material that may actually be progressive, to reflect the mainstream status quo, by erasing women of color from canon relationships, or abusing Black male characters, by writing them  into slavefic. When WoC  question and/or  analyse the source for racism and misogynoir, they are often harassed, gaslighted, or shouted down by White female fans. When Gay fans question the fetishizing of mlm characters in fandom, they are often treated the same. There are plenty of white women fans harassing WoC actresses, who happen to be paired with White men in the source material, like the still ongoing harassment campaign against Candace Patton, from The Flash.This is not the type of bad fandom behavior that gets covered in mainstream media, which attributes such harassment only to White men, and as a result, the public tends to think that White women are innocent of it. They are not. They simply have different motivations.

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https://newrepublic.com/article/137489/women-color-price-fandom-can-high

The attacks on her character range from obvious bigotry referring to her as a monkey to more subtle remarks about how the two love interests don’t “look good together”. Look through Tumblr, Twitter, or even the recaps on popular sites and you’ll find an inordinate amount of hate toward Iris for things other white female characters get a pass for. 

There were plenty of White female fans denigrating Kelly Marie Tran, and her character, before she deleted her Instagram account. The only difference was their behavior wasn’t in the public eye, because they were not attacking the actress directly. They were attacking her fans instead, or engaging in transformative media, in the form of tweets, essays, and fanfiction that erased and/or vilified her character. This is typical in Transformative fandom, where White women deliberately fail to understand, or choose to ignore, intersectional feminism, in favor of uplifting white female characters, while diminishing WoC in both fandom and the narrative.

https://stitchmediamix.com/2018/09/19/what-fandom-racism-looks-like-only-33-words-in-a-trailer/

Hell, did y’all see how the Agent Carter fandom demanded that WOC support a show where we weren’t even vaguely represented – all in the name of feminism – and then blame us for the show doing poorly in its second season? (Or, Tamora Pierce wading in with a totally wrong and racist interjection about 1940s New York must have looked like and what Black people would’ve done in that time period.

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There has been a lot of discussion lately about Curatorial fandom behaving badly, while ignoring that Transformative fandom often behaves just as badly, but because the perpetrators are White women, who tend to be more subtle in their practice of it, whose interests and hobbies tend to be devalued,  and who have traditionally always been seen as innocent of bigoted and racist behavior, this gets  ignored by the mainstream.

Now, this isn’t to say that one form of fandom is better or worse than the other. They are both simply differing ways of being a fan. But that is not to say that Curatorial fandom doesn’t have issues. We’ve already talked about how bigotry and racism from Curatorial fans is covered in mainstream media, but one other issue is that sometimes curatorial fandom does not go beyond collecting information about the source material, and has a tendency to lack depth. Fans may not ask questions, or seek to think any deeper about it beyond simply knowing it in detail, or ranking it from best to worst. That can lead to a certain amount of shallowness , and we’ve already seen that it can lead to gatekeeping, where members of a particular fandom feel a need to test newer fans on their knowledge about it, before being permitted to enjoy that fandom. Since they practice fandom in a  Curatorial style, , a lack of knowledge, in their minds, means that someone isn’t a real fan.

Another side effect of Transformative fandom is that fans can get so caught up in their imaginary version of the source material (known as head canon) that they  bully and harass others who don’t believe as they do. They will attack other fans, thereby keeping the harassment in-house. This accounts for the many “shipping wars” that are bizarre and puzzling to outsiders, like what happened in the Supernatural fandom, when certain fans became convinced that their imaginary relationship, between Dean Winchester and the Angel Castiel, (called Destiel) was actually a canon relationship being kept from them by the creators. It got to the point where such fans were also  harassing the actors, their wives, and the writers, by making fanciful claims about the real life actors relationships with each other and their wives, and bullying those fans who refuted these beliefs.

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https://scadconnector.com/2018/04/10/fascination-and-frustration-an-analysis-of-fan-fiction/

Fan fiction is written by people who watch a show or a movie, or read a book, and look at what they are given and think, but what if this happened?

Although there are differences in how fandom is practiced, there is a great deal of overlap in type, and no way of performing fandom is better than another. Both styles of fandom have significant drawbacks, especially when practiced carelessly, by forgetting that other types of fans exist,  acting and thinking without regard to other members of the fandom, or even the creators.  These are just different ways of enjoying the narrative, and most people engage in at least a little bit of both kinds of fandom. But when people feel threatened by, for example, changes in the source material, or by other fans (sometimes other marginalized fans) who refute their ideas about the source material, the kind of behavior we see is usually based on this  divide.

https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/ready-player-one-marvel-and-the-cure-for-curative-fandom

All we have to do to open up curative fandom is incorporate a little more of Column B, shifting the curative focus from “catalog everything in the collection” to “what’s the most interesting thing in here?” By leaning harder into the curatorial roots of curative fandom, Marvel’s hit upon the solution to it.

Or, to put it another way—Ready Player One feels like the past. Black Panther feels like the future.

 

**This is just my attempt to understand why some fans behave so badly, and yet still refer  to themselves as fans, because one of the first things I did was question whether or not these people were real fans, and these essays somewhat answer my question. My definition of fandom wasn’t wrong, it just needed to be expanded to include different performances of it, and that a lot of the behavior we see coming out of fandom is due, at its foundation, to this difference in thinking. This is not to give these people an out for their bad behavior, or an excuse, but for me to understand the psychology behind why people do what they do in fandom, and pass along some of that understanding.

 

 

 

 

Thoughts for the Weekend

 

The Media

This article talks about why one of the reasons people think the world is  going to hell. It is the prevalence of negative news. The very nature of the news, the tagline being, “If it bleeds, it leads.” accounts for the greater and greater amounts of negativity we see in the news. Each story has to be sensational, outrageous, and/or gory.

A couple of years ago, my habit, like thousands of other people, was to get up each morning, and turn on the news. I stopped doing that. When I get up in the morning now, I watch something light and fun, that doesn’t require too much thought, like a comedy I recorded the night before, or favorite episodes of old shows. I’ve found that I feel more positive throughout the day, I’m less angry, I’m nicer to my co-workers, and generally more cheerful, at the start of the day, than when I watched the news.

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The media exaggerates negative news.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/17/steven-pinker-media-negative-news

Whether or not the world really is getting worse, the nature of news will interact with the nature of cognition to make us think that it is.

News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. We never see a journalist saying to the camera, “I’m reporting live from a country where a war has not broken out”— or a city that has not been bombed, or a school that has not been shot up. 

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Game of Thrones

If you do nothing else this season of Game of Thrones, you have to read the weekly rundown of the show, by the fans at The Root. Even if you hate the show, don’t watch the show, or know nothing about the show, you should read them anyway because they are, hands down, some of the funniest reviews of anything on the internet. At this point, reading the weekly review becomes part of the show. For those of you with real stamina, you can try reading the show’s live tweet on Black Twitter.

I am always amazed that so many Black people love this show, including many non-geeks. It took me years to really get into it, because I just wasn’t interested. I followed the show off and on for the first three seasons, but didn’t become any kind of fan until season five, after the episode Hardhome, which I understand was the turning point for a lot of people.  Last weekend was the culmination of that particular episode, so there are plenty of spoilers in the post.

I want to point out that Arya Stark is one of my all-time favorite characters on the show, and has been my go-to Baby Badass since season five.

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Arya Stark Forces Night King to Drop Out of Presidential Race

Although he has not issued a formal statement, representatives for Walker—also known as the Night King—confirmed that the blue-eyed devil will not take part in the upcoming primaries, citing the fact that he had lost support among a key group of supporters—namely, the Arya Stark demographic.

 

#NotToday: The Night King nor Kim Kardashian Could Stop Us From Keeping Up With The Battle of Winterfell

With five or six tea lights lighting the battle scene on our screens, The Red Woman came and did what the fuck she had to do and said let there be light and lit the field with fire. Too bad the fire didn’t do shit for our screens our Daenerys’ vision from the sky.

 

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 Robot Fear

This is a very interesting article about how Western nations view robots vs. how cultures in the East view them. The Japanese, for example, have a very different attitude towards robots than Americans. The article credits part of that to the Western attitudes towards systems of chattel slavery. The East had slaves, but the systems there were not set up the same here, or perpetuated throughout that country’s other institutions, either.

I also think part of the issue is not just our attitudes about the treatment of slaves, but the Western religious ideas behind them, and the idea of karmic retribution that has attached itself to those ideas. We need to add decades of movie and TV narratives in which robot slaves turned on their owners. I wrote before about how a lot of futuristic fiction involves imagining what White people have done to other cultures, happening to White people, usually by beings once held in bondage, like robots. The term “robot” was invented in the West, and violent retribution by them, is one of its earliest Pop culture themes, as in the 1927 Metropolis.

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WHY WESTERNERS FEAR ROBOTS AND THE JAPANESE DO NOT

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

It’s not that Westerners haven’t had their fair share of friendly robots like R2-D2 and Rosie, the Jetsons’ robot maid. But compared to the Japanese, the Western world is warier of robots. I think the difference has something to do with our different religious contexts, as well as historical differences with respect to industrial-scale slavery.

 

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Yarn Industry Diversity

Here’s a short list of Knitting designers, and Dyers of Color in the industry.

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Black Yarn Dyers and the case for Purposeful Support

https://theyarnmission.com/black-yarn-dyers-and-the-case-for-purposeful-support/

It’s not about tokenism.” Rather, we insist that folks support artists simply because they are Black. Especially for their Blackness we recognize that for so many it would mean “in spite of their Blackness.” This is what pro-Black looks like to us since we are working towards a liberation in the face of rampant, engrained, and internalized anti-Blackness. 

 

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Comedy

I’m still not over Nanette, which is still airing on Netflix. It just floored me. I’m guessing it floored a lot of people, since so many wrote think pieces about it. I do believe Hannah Gadsby is the future of comedy, while people like Bill Maher, Jerry Seinfeld, and Louis C K, are comedy’s past. I noticed that when women do comedy, (any marginalized people, really), they are as as liable to cause tears as much as laughter. The only male comedian I’ve ever seen who captures that particular vibe is Patton Oswalt, in his stand-up, Annihilation, )where he talks about the death of his wife).

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Bill Maher Is Stand-up Comedy’s Past. Hannah Gadsby Represents Its Future.

https://www.vulture.com/2018/07/bill-maher-hannah-gadsby-stand-up-comedy.html

Nanette is also a deconstruction of stand-up specials, as well as several generations’ worth of straight male–crafted opinions on what “good comedy” is and what “great art” is. Gadsby poses a question which, if answered affirmatively, would validate her stated wish to quit doing stand-up: What if “funny” is the enemy of “honest,” or at least at cross-purposes with it?

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Reverse Racism Claims

Recently Jordan Peele came into the cross hairs of the White Bigot League, when he stated that he wasn’t looking to hire White men for any of his lead roles, as that had all been done before, and he wants to try something different. I think this article perfectly captures all my thoughts on this issue.

For the record, he never said he wouldn’t  cast any White people in his movies. What he said was he wasn’t going to cast them in the lead roles.

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There’s Nothing Wrong With Jordan Peele Not Wanting to Cast White Male Leads

https://www.thewrap.com/jordan-peele-no-white-male-leads-nothing-wrong/

But racism becomes a social disease when it systematically and systemically places one race at the top of a hierarchy at the expense of other races. That is why the N-word stings so much more than any word blacks ever coined to denigrate white people. It’s why blackface hurts in a way that whiteface doesn’t. There are centuries of brutal history to back up the sting.

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Black Romance

I thought this article was especially interesting. I do not read Romance novels, as a general rule but I used to have a disdain for them. At some point, I realized my disdain was contributing to an atmosphere in Pop culture that devalues the interests of women, and if the hobbies and interests of women aren’t considered important, then imagine how denigrated Black women’s interests must be.

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Fifty shades of white: the long fight against racism in romance novels

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/apr/04/fifty-shades-of-white-romance-novels-racism-ritas-rwa?src=longreads

Some booksellers continued to shelve black romances separately from white romances, on special African American shelves. Accepted industry wisdom told black authors that putting black couples on their covers could hurt sales, and that they should replace them with images of jewellery, or lawn chairs, or flowers. Other authors of colour had struggled to get representation within the genre at all.

 

 

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US

I promise this is the last article I’m going to post about this movie. Its just fascinating how much (and how many) meanings people are finding in this movie.

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https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/us-movies-hidden-meaning-black-identity-explained-1196687

Jordan Peele may have crafted the first horror movie to truly dismantle the MAGA era and how African Americans fit into it.

 

 

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Poverty

Hollywood has crafted a lot about how we think of the world, its situations, and the people around us. I think many of us would be surprised at how much of our “knowledge” of the world comes from movies.

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Perpetuating the poverty myth: How Hollywood gives us the wrong ideas about poor people

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/perpetuating-poverty-myth-hollywood-gives-us-wrong-ideas-poor-people-210440365.html

Pimpare believes that at this time of deep divisions in America, movies that accurately portray modern-day poverty are more important than ever. “We are geographically so segregated, racially segregated, and we are very much economically segregated — so it may be that for growing numbers of people, the only opportunities they have to gain insight into lives of poor and low-income people are through mass media,” 

 

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Representation Matters

Yahp!

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https://the-orbit.net/progpub/2018/12/26/representation-matters/

For myself and many African-American moviegoers, one film has stood out from the rest. Not because the others listed (or those absent) are sub-par movies, but rather, because the Black Panther was the kind of movie we have long thirsted for. The first Black superhero of Marvel Comics got to headline the first Black superhero movie from Marvel Studios, with a Black director, a predominately Black cast, diverse presentation of Black bodies, an Afrofuturist aesthetic, complex nuanced characters largely devoid of stereotypes, a rich backstory, and a massive budget. A monumental box office hit, the movie shattered record after record on its way to a final global tally of roughly $1.3 billion. 

 

Movies Normalize the Harming of Black Bodies

Questioning Authorial Intent

I think it’s time we started discussing a writer’s intention in creating marginalized characters. It doesn’t particularly matter to me whether its done consciously or unconsciously, but we need to speak about how writers treat their characters of color, LGBTQ characters, and female characters.

The TV and movie industries have always been controlled primarily by white male writers. They write  women characters  according to what they think women are actually like, or wish they were and we have to be willing to admit that there are more than a few writers out there who fantasize about how they would like to treat women, and realize their fantasies through the characters they create. It’s also an industry made up of a lot of straight men, who have always been prone to homophobia, and who have  written gay characters the way they see them, or wanted them to be seen. And yes, in some cases they fantasize about these characters being  punished for being who they are. (This is something that has been well documented about women, and  Gay characters in movies. See: “The Celluloid Closet”, and documentaries on female characters in slasher films.)

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We have all become aware  of the unnecessary rape scenes of female characters, and the Kill Your Gays Trope, where the writers punish and kill women  for being  sexually forward, and the gay characters who lead tragic lives, only to die horribly. The same dynamic  seems to be at work for Black characters too, and the reason why may be the unconscious, (or hell, sometimes very conscious), racial resentment of White writers, who feel forced to include these characters in their work.

I’m not advocating that no Black characters ever be punished or killed, but I am questioning the intentions of the writers who do this, and I wonder if, like the OP above, if it’s resentment at having to include characters of color. More and more often, White writers are being called on to be inclusive beyond white, straight, able bodied, men, and some of them might feel some type of way about that.

Hollywood and TV have a long history of depicting White men bullying, torturing, and gunning down “the other”.  Is it any wonder that it is primarily White men who are the main perpetrators of mass acts of violence against women, (The Ecole Polytechnique Massacre) , gay and transgender, (The Pulse Nightclub Shooting), Blacks, (Charleston Church Shooting), Jews (The Synagogue Shooting), Muslims, (Christchurch),  and others too numerous to mention. (This is not including regular acts of police brutality against people of color, and hate crimes against immigrants, and Jewish people.)

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What is new in Pop culture is an influx of Black characters being written by white writers, who think they’re being inclusive, but  who have not done their due diligence on racial issues, or Black culture. Sometimes, I’m seeing characters of color get bullied, tortured, punished, or killed in the narrative by White characters, some of whom are meant to be heroes, and I’m starting to believe that White characters  are stand ins for the writer’s own racial resentment. These characters get to do the kinds of things to Black characters that the writers, whether consciously or not, would like to do themselves, which is sometimes telling off, or hurting, or punishing “The Other”.

I have written before about how Black characters have been traditionally created in the white imagination, often associated with crime, murder, and sexual brutality, (That’s about how racial ideas in the real world get reflected in pop culture). I’m now talking about a different iteration of this theme, and I’m going to use the MCU  as an example, because this is where I first noticed it.

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The series The Defenders, is an amalgamation of the other Netflix series in the MCU,  Luke Cage, Daredevil, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones, (all of which have since been canceled). In the one season of The Defenders, there are approximately two Black men, one of whom is a villain. There’s a scene where he is being tortured by Daredevil and Iron Fist, while the other team members stand around and debate this tactic. What you have is a team of superheroes torturing a Black man for information, and this is being shown as okay, even though real world specialists on this issue, have clearly stated that torture does not work as a tactic for getting information.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/we-rsquo-ve-known-for-400-years-that-torture-doesn-rsquo-t-work/

The prevalence of torture, committed by ostensibly good guys, in movies and TV shows, also accounts for the dramatic rise in  the public’s belief in torture as a real world tactic that  Americans should use in the fight against anyone who is considered “a bad guy”. Since Black men are stereotypically  associated with crime…well, you see where this is going.

 

And this isn’t limited to The Defenders, because Jessica Jones contains the scene of the unceremonious killing of the only  Black woman in the show, and Jessica’s disregard for the life of the only other Black character on the show has been duly  noted.  The Punisher, Iron Fist, and Daredevil are all known for showing their White protagonists beating up, torturing,  and killing whole squads of men of color. I mentioned, in a previous post, how Iron Fist had a nasty problem with beating up young Black men, without asking questions first. Even Spiderman tries to get in on the action by trying to intimidate a Black man he needs information from. (That he fails to intimidate him isn’t the point. The point is that he tried it, and that that was his first, go-to, move.) For the record, none of these supposedly heroic characters limit themselves to torturing only Black men. All men of color are fair game, as evidenced by the sheer number of Asian bodies Daredevil mows down, in any season.

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Many of the MCU movies have such moments. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, you have another man of color being tortured for information by Captain America,  Black Widow, and Falcon. In Captain America Civil War you have a scene where Rhodey, Tony’s Black sidekick is injured by Vision, but Tony punishes Falcon,  for an incident that he was not responsible for. In Iron Man 3, Tony threatens the man he thinks is the Mandarin, by brandishing a gun at him to get information. To be absolutely honest, heroic characters of any race often get in on the torture of villains in the MCU. In the movie Black Panther, a movie written by a Black man, there are scenes of T’Challa beating up a villain  for information.

Primarily, this is about the use of torture by any “superhero “, towards men of color. These characters are all still  written by white men, and all these supposedly “good people”  end up harming or torturing men of color. (To be absolutely fair “good guys’ torturing “bad guys” is a problem across most, if not all, superhero comic books, but in the movies, these bad guys have a tendency to be men of color.)

https://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2018/04/racist-moments-in-comic-book-history/

We know racism is real. That is not a matter for debate. We also know that people, in the fandoms surrounding these movies, regularly engage in racist thoughts and actions regarding characters of color, and show a great deal of resentment and hatred for them. What I am questioning here is the idea that, somehow, writers of  Fantasy  TV and movies are somehow exempt from racial resentment because …well, they’re creators, I guess.

And just because the hero committing the torture is Black, that does not make the situation exempt from this criticism, as these are Black characters as interpreted through the lens of  White writers. White writers create these characters, making them say and do whatever they want, including voice their own racial resentments, as what happened with Nick Spencer’s  version of Falcon as Captain America. Nick Spencer wrote a parody version of SJWs, and later Sam Wilson, who had been written as a voice of reason, apologized to Steve Rogers for ever having been like them. A Black man apologizes to a White man for ever having been a passionate activist!

https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/captain-america-sam-wilson-nick-spencer-controversy/

Over and over again, White audiences (which this sort entertainment is primarily written for) are subjected to the concept that its okay for good (ie. White) men to beat up on, and/or torture, Black men.  Vigilantism. Is it any wonder that there’s is so little  empathy for Black characters in movies and TV, (The Racial Empathy Gap), or that White people are quick to make excuses for White men’s violent aggression against Black men.

The most recent case of real life vigilantism was when Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, and it was Trayvon who was painted as a villain who deserved to be shot by the innocent Zimmerman, who was just trying to protect his neighborhood. This is how such vigilantism plays out in the real world. How is what happened to Trayvon different from a scene in Iron Fist or Daredevil, which are shows about fine upstanding White men, who just want to protect their neighborhoods.

White America has always told such stories, which often resulted in the beatings and lynchings of Black Americans, when White men take it upon themselves to protect against Black criminality. Two of the overwhelming messages in Pop culture, (books, movies, and TV shows), for decades, is that vigilantism is a perfectly acceptable response to criminality, and that Black men are  the criminals, who deserve whatever violence is meted out to them by White men.

There is a connection between the normalization of brutality against marginalized bodies onscreen, and White male brutality agaonst “the other” in the real world. One of these is a reflection of the other, but which of these, remains the question. And what is served by showing audiences image after image of White heroes willing to do their worst to marginalized others?

I Said It On Tumblr

I have got to say some things, so sometimes I respond to posts  by people on Tumblr. Sometimes, I simply make my own posts. As you can see, the things I post on Tumblr are a lot more blunt than the things I put on this blog,, which is mostly meant to be geeky about stuff I watch on TV.

So here’s some shit I said while I was on Tumblr, that I was apparently  too chickenshit to post  on this blog!

White Characters During Slavery

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I saw an interview with Danae Gurira, who stated something similar to this, where she said, if you make a movie about Black people, and then add one White person, the audience will focus on the White person, and if you make a movie that’s supposedly about women, and add one male character,  the audience will focus on that one man. So obviously, the thing to do would be remove those characters from the story, so that the audience has no choice but to  focus on who you want them to focus on.

One of the side effects of adding sympathetic White characters to narratives about slavery, (or any story involving Black pain), is that it makes White audiences comfortable with viewing Black pain at a remove. As long as there are White characters in the story that White audiences can identify with, then they can remove themselves from the (historical) causation of Black misery, and just view that as part of the landscape of the story. Instead of focusing on the idea that “White people were responsible for causing this pain.” , they will focus instead on, “I would never have been a part of that, just like that guy.” or, “There were good White people back then and I would have been one of those.”

In fact, I highly suspect the reason why so many White creators have written Slave narratives is that its a low key excuse to hurt Black people, show Black pain, and express their latent racial resentment. It makes Black pain and horror part of the “entertainment” of viewing historical narratives, while Black audiences have no such outlet. Outside of being mildly informative, (and occasionally highly misinformative), it’s not cathartic for us to watch these stories. We feel the pain being inflicted on Black characters, who are suffering, with no reprieve for us in the story, because that’s who we are meant to identify with.

White creators can punish Black people within the story, and harm Black audiences who view that pain, as well.

I’m proposing a moratorium on Slave narratives being told through a White lens, because White creators have not only done a piss poor job of the accurate depiction of what slavery was like, but have done an excellent job of inflicting trauma on Black audiences, while making White audiences feel good about themselves.

I’ve made myself this promise, at least. I will not watch anymore movies where the story is nothing more than depictions of Black pain, and misery, with no emotional outlet.

 

Earlier I said this:

I can see the parallels to this in a lot of marginalized groups depictions in popular media. Before this new era,  white, straight audiences wanted to see groups of other non-white people suffering, and they flocked to that kind of drama. We went  too, because, for us, it was representation, and for white people it was the tragic  drama of a life they will never live, and the affirmation that they were living correctly.

But now I see PoC and LGBTQ people wanting to see different depictions of themselves, in media, that go beyond merely suffering. We want images of ourselves being happy, and being in love, and being loved, and accepted. We want power images, and adventure images too.

Those previous depictions of marginalized people as sufferers of indignity had their place, (and sometimes still do), but now, this is a different generation, a different era, with new audiences that are demanding media that is a reflection of how far we’ve come ,rather than a mournful reliving of the past, or the wish fulfillment of straight white men that think they anyone who isnt them, should be suffering.

 

Racism In The Knitting Community

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This answer was a response to an article about how the knitting community is dealing with racism, and the dismissal by some members of the community of its importance. The attitude was why can’t we just knit, and forget about  this stuff, and my response was, it’s easy to say that, when they don’t have to worry about it.

The reason why we have to deal with this now is because white people don’t stop acting like racists just because they’ve taken up a hobby. A person doesn’t stop treating other human beings like crap because they enjoy an activity, and white people take racism, and discrimination with them everywhere.

BIPOC can’t ever just enjoy an activity, especially if white people are heavily involved in it. Just because you don’t have to deal with it in your personal life doesn’t mean it’s not important to the people to which this keeps happening.

We’re not letting our insecurities stop us from succeeding. What’s stopping us from making progress as designers, yarn dyers, shop owners, etc, is white racist attitudes at the idea that we don’t/ can’t share hobbies with them, and then the dismissal by white people, of our lived experiences, as not being important, because THEY don’t experience it.

Instead of opening your mouth about things you don’t experience, so therefore  think it’s not important, you need to go to Instagram and read the testimonials of BIPOC experiences in the community. All it takes is a handful of white people to make the entire experience a living hell for someone who wants to simply love a hobby as much as you do!

And it’s not just personal experiences either. How many designers of color can you name off the top of your head? Do you ever see any knitters of color anywhere just in passing ? How many knitting books have no PoC in them as models? How many have you bought any products from in the past year?

Honestly it’s very disappointing, and entirely in keeping with the article too, that all these people would go into the comments to dismiss what we go through, and tell us to just get over it!

Why am I not surprised?

 

 

Cyberpunk Revolution in Film

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For some reason, I felt prompted to speak on the concept of the Lone Agitator in Pop Culture/SciFi.  I forget what inspired me to write this, but I think I had in mind the many Futuristic and  Dystopiam movies that revolve around the lone White hero, who starts a rebellion.

Since so much of Hollywood is run by white men, the futures they often imagine, and put on screen, are often reflections of their lived experiences, which they don’t notice, or refuse to acknowledge.

Like the depiction of revolutionary futures in cyberpunk movies. Too often white imaginaries see revolutions as movements led by a strong leader, often a man, but sometimes a white woman. They rarely imagine rebelling against systems of futuristic oppression through unionized or collective grassroots action, through the use of social media, and this is because many of the men writing such stories have had no experiences with that type of action in their own lives. They are mostly likely to think of rebellion in lone rebel/hacker terms. For example, only one person (a young white person) is in charge of whatever decisions needed to fight against a system of capitalist oppression.

Even in cases which depict groups of people coming together, those groups only do so at the urging of one strong leader, who rallies everyone to action. Such future rebellions are almost never depicted the way they often look in the real world, which is decentralized, with no clear leader, and is often just a group of people who all believe something, and all decide to meet up somewhere at sometime, place phone calls, or donate money.

We can see this in the difference between how marginalized people organize to address social and corporate oppression, and how white men address what they believe to be oppression of themselves. With only a handful of exceptions, they rarely come together in unionized collective action to bring about the change they want, preferring instead to go it alone, believing their individual actions to be of primary importance, for example, witness the many “lone wolves” engaging in terrorist actions. Even in cases where white men collectively organize their organizing can still be disrupted by lone actors, as it was in Charlottesville. Most terroristic actions, the bombings, the shootings, are carried out by loners who believe they’re fighting against white male oppression and believe that violence is the only way for such change to occur.

White male rebellion against something they disagree with often looks very different from the revolutionary behavior of marginalized people, which is often non-violent (and when it does become violent, the violence is often against property rather than people). Instead of group actions, they would rather engage in individual activities, like harassment, deception, and misinformation, and when that doesn’t work, violence against people seems to be their next and only option.

This is depicted, at least  in movies, as violence against their oppressors, when in real life, grassroots, feet on the ground, rallying, marching and rebellion is most often completely nonviolent, and a carefully coordinated group action, often reached by consensus. (“Hey, let’s meet here and do______, for _________.”) But lone wolves don’t need to to reach consensus with anyone. They can skip all that and go to direct (and often violent) action, thereby retaining autonomy as individuals, without having to compromise their behavior or beliefs. (This isn’t a hard and fast rule, just a tendency.) Far too much of White men’s ideas about activism consist of causing harm to others, and its also how they classify real life activism against themselves.

The white men who make the rebellion movies we love to watch often do not depict marginalized people (beyond white women) in leadership type roles, for such, and the futuristic stories they tell about it, do not accurately depict how grassroots organizations actually work, because many of them have absolutely no experience with such activities. Most of them have never had to rally for or against something. It is one of many things Hollywood creators depicts inaccurately because the people controlling the industry do not have a window into different kinds of life experiences, and overwhelming come from the same racial, and socio-economic class.

 

 

White Negligence

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I know exactly what prompted me to write this one. I was feeling seriously pissed off about the mainstream media’s reaction to the Opioid Crisis vs. their reaction to the Crack Epidemic, (and before that, the Heroin Epidemic), in Black communities. But what made me especially angry, was just the sheer fucking waste of time and energy spent by White people on making themselves feel good by pointing out how it was our fault, (because we’re pathological), instead of putting structures in place to fix the problem. The same structures that would have been in place to help them with their current crisis.

White people have been so damn busy piling all their worst sins onto the backs of black and brown people, and smugly patting themselves on the back for not being like those violent n*gg*rs, and sp*cs, they they have absolutely failed to address any of their own pathologies.

One of the problems with spending all ones time smugly pointing out everyone’s else’s sins, and admonishing them to fix their shit, is one gains the very bad habit of allowing one’s own dysfunctions to grow and fester unimpeded. It’s been several decades of white people acting this way, and now their many, many pathologies are catching up to them, and resulting in their own deaths, while they stand around looking bewildered, and wondering what happened, or why there are no structures in place to help them.

Meanwhile, people of color, who were always being admonished to fix their shit, have been doing the work, and at least acknowledging their issues (as white people are always quick to helpfully point them out to us),  while trying to warn them that things were soon going to catch up to them, sooner or later, because they’ve got some shit they need to take care of, too.

I have observed that PoC are more compassionate and empathetic than any of the White people who have spent the past five decades wagging their fingers at them. PoC have spent a helluva lot of time trying to save them from themselves. Ultimately, it will not be immigrants, Muslims or other PoC who will destroy White people. White people will destroy themselves (as they seem to be bent on  doing so) in a paroxysm of drugs and violence, because they refuse to take care of any of the issues that have plagued their colonization of this country. The problem is that they seem hellbent on taking the rest of us with them.

 

 

Angry White Men

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I think I wrote this after the Kavanaugh hearings, in which we saw a White man have a complete, and total, breakdown-conniption-fit, in a professional setting, on live television. I remember thinking at the time that that must have been really nice, because there’s no way in Hell on Earth I would be able to get away with acting like that, in any business setting. Ever!

In fact, there’s not a woman, or PoC on this planet, who would ever be able to act that way in a public setting, without having the police called on them, or at least being fired from their job. If you think for one moment that what we saw wasn’t White privilege at work, think about acting that way in a job interview, and still getting the job!

The only group of people who have the luxury of screaming in anger and outrage in a public space are White men. Not even White women get that luxury without, (at least), being dismissed as hysterical, and if you’re a Black woman, you can look forward to being demeaned as a ‘hood wench, demonized as an angry black woman, or mocked as a ratchet hoe.

If you’re a Black man, you can look forward to getting arrested, or killed by the police, if you show any sign that you may be thinking about being angry, on even the most justifiable issue, like your own injustice.

So when you see images of white men in suits screaming at other white men in suits, just know that’s something that will be applauded as manly by other White men.

 

 

 

White Surprise

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I think what prompted this was testimonies from various White people evincing  surprise, at certain other White people, who are always calling the police on Black and Brown people, for living while having color. It really wasn’t that long ago that White people could do whatever they felt like doing to anybody Black, in any public space, without any pushback or repercussions.

I’m getting really tired of White people being surprised at the depths to which other White Americans will sink, in their hatred of people  they think are  different from them.

Such people have always existed in this country, and there were times when such people were in total power over Black and Brown people. Middle class, straight, White people have had the luxury of ignoring what doesn’t directly affect them as they were almost never the targets of such people. Apparently it’s really easy to declare something to not be a problem at all when the problem isn’t yours.

Black and Brown and Indigenous people have been the victims of such bullies since the beginning of this country, and have been warning everyone that those people will be coming for them at some point, because such people are not respecters of any humanity but their own. Now that it’s coming home to rest in their backyards, because they’ve ignored it when it was happening to everyone but them, they want to act surprised and outraged.

It’s just another form of White narcissism, that the only time anything becomes a problem to be solved , like drug addiction, authoritarianism, and poverty, is when it hits White people. As long as only “those other” people are on the receiving end of it, most White people will sit by and simply watch it happen, (if they notice it at all), while convincing themselves what good people they are. Usually by the time the problems reach White people it’s too late to do anything to stop them.

 

Black Torture

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I’m pretty sure that what prompted this post was watching Iron Fist, The Defenders, and Captain America, back to back some weekend, and noticing t scenes that all connect to each other. See, this is what my brain likes to do for fun, when I’m doing something else, which is collecting trivia, and then bring it to my attention at three o’clock in the morning, when it knows damn well I need to go to sleep. 

I can see the parallels to this in a lot of marginalized groups depictions in popular media. Before this new era,  white, straight audiences wanted to see groups of other non-white people suffering, and they flocked to that kind of drama. We went  too, because, for us, it was representation, and for white people it was the tragic  drama of a life they will never live, and the affirmation that they were living correctly.

But now I see PoC and LGBTQ people wanting to see different depictions of themselves, in media, that go beyond merely suffering. We want images of ourselves being happy, and being in love, and being loved, and accepted. We want power images, and adventure images too.

Those previous depictions of marginalized people as sufferers of indignity had their place, (and sometimes still do), but now, this is a different generation, a different era, with new audiences that are demanding media that is a reflection of how far we’ve come ,rather than a mournful reliving of the past, or the wish fulfillment of straight white men that think they anyone who isnt them, should be suffering.

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed this trend in superhero movies of Black men (and sometimes other men of color) being tortured by characters who are supposed to be heroes?

I first noticed this in Captain America Winter Soldier, when Steve, Falcon, and Natasha were torturing Jasper Sitwell, who was then brutally killed by The Winter Soldier.

I noticed it again in The Defenders, when the lone Black member of The Hand gets  tortured by the group of supposed heroes.

Daredevil’s plot (at least for the first season) seemed to consist entirely of him beating the crap out of poor men of color, which is ironic, because earlier in the season of The Defenders, Luke Cage chastised Danny Rand for beating up poor Black men, and then stands idly by, saying nothing, while Daredevil tortures yet another man of color.

I haven’t watched every single movie and show in the MCU, but wanted to know if anyone  else noticed this in other superhero shows, or franchises. Did this happen in Jessica Jones? (I understand that that show has other racial issues, too.)

Outside of the idea that people referring to themselves as god guys probably should not be using torture to get information, I’m concerned about the use of torture against Black men by White characters who claim to be doing good.And my second concern is the massive amounts of bodily trauma (beatings and deaths) being visited on men of color throughout the franchise.

What To Do At The Zombie Apocalypse

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I think what prompted this  post, was an article I read, about why we never see people riding bicycles after the apocalypse. I started thinking about a lot of the tropes, and imagery, we get fed, in Popular media, about what to do when the world is ending. When the apocalypse comes it is almost overwhelmingly White, for one thing. it almost never seems to impact communities of color, nor do we often get to see how poc react to the world ending. I think its because the vast majority of these stories are told by middle class White men, and this is their idea of what it would like like.

I’ve been saying this about the Zombie apocalypse for years. What city dwellers do you know who are  gonna immediately run out to the woods and live at a subsistence level just because dead people are walking around? People with disabilities, allergies, or just elderly parents to care for, ain’t going to be doing any such thing. Why is the advice given to people, that they need a “bug out” plan just because the dead are walking? I’m not buying it.

I live in the hood. Do you know how many handy men we have in the hood? How many military personnel. Or even homebody engineers. Do you have any fucking clue how resourceful and cooperative poor people are, and have to be to survive even with electricity? And how many of us have been trained to expect the best, but plan for the worst case scenario. No, you don’t, because that idea of poverty is never represented in popular culture. Shit! A zombie apocalypse won’t even ruffle our fucking hair. We’ll come up with ways to kill the zombies while keeping it moving. Hell, my brother all by himself, could have the electricity up and running, a defensive tower, a moat, schooling, and gardening, all in the space of two weeks.

It’s also interesting to me that all zombie apocalypse movies only seem to consist of middle-class white suburbanites trying to survive, with a handful of PoC thrown in like confetti. The most that White writers can imagine, for PoC, even during the apocalypse, is that we all die? Really! That seems to be their only scenario. They don’t take into account that poor people have been taking care of each other since the invention of poor people. The poor have never believed in an isolationist, go it alone, ruggedly individual attitude, when it comes to surviving, because we couldn’t afford that! Poor people are not lazy, and of everyone, they would be the most likely to survive any apocalypse because we have experienced surviving hardships and insecurity!

On the other hand, the middle class white guys who invented these types of stories are obsessed with that attitude. They really think that soon as the electricity stops, people are gonna lose their gotdamn minds, and start trying to kill their neighbors for fun and food, or planning a long journey to go find their wife, son, daughter, lost somewhere in the pre-tech Badlands! Not even taking into account that we have real life scenarios right here, right now, that we can look at and figure out that most people aren’t gonna act like that. (*cough, ahem! Puerto Rico! Cough*).

I have long come to understand that apocalypse scenarios are just wish fulfillment fantasies for middle class white guys who think that the end of the world will make them the heroes they always wanted to be. As a result I’m no longer interested in end of the world scenarios with white men in the center of them as the heroes, and yes, I’m also talking about a certain TV show, too.

 

 

Brooklyn 99 is Propaganda

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This was prompted by a long discussion on Tumblr about what constitutes propaganda. Mine was not the definitive answer on the subject  (at this time, the argument is still ongoing), but whether or not you think of some show as propaganda, sometimes depends on your  definition of the word. I used a very broad definition, some people wanted to be more specific.

Uhmm, actually it is. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love this show and all it’s characters, but that’s what makes it propaganda. Any cop show that is set up for you to think of the characters as likable, dutifull, and most importantly “good cops” is propaganda. I don’t think that’s the creators intentions, (I think their intent is to be funny with great characters, and tackle social issues) but it is propaganda because the “effect” is that you end up liking the cops on the show, and in real life they’re generally pretty conservative, whereas the cops on this show are very woke. If it were a hospital ,or a college campus it wouldn’t be considered propaganda, as a hospital or college campus are not political entities in the same way as the police. The police are tools of the state, so ANY show that makes us feel some type of way about them (good or bad) automatically makes the show political, making it propaganda.

So yes, as wonderful and lovable as the show is, as nice as the characters are, that is the very reason that it qualifies as propaganda. Technically, even if all the cops on the show were evil and corrupt, it would still be propaganda because the side effect is that you watch the show and feel some type of way about a state-run, political entity.

In a broad definition of the term, the creators have an agenda, and while that agenda is not making the police look good, the side effect is that the show makes the police look good, and makes you feel good about them. Just because it’s a comedy doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an effect on the landscape of peoples thinking. Because, in the end ,it’s not about the “intention” of the creators. It’s about the “effect” the show has in the landscape of television, along with 15-20 other cop shows.

So yeah, Brooklyn 99 qualifies. And it’s a testament to just how damn good this show is that I will watch the hell out of it, even though I avoid almost all cop shows as a believer in BLM, and recognizing they’re all propaganda.

 

Source:

In Defense of After Earth (2013)

Only straight, White men have the luxury of being lazy about watching a movie. The rest of us always seem to have to be on guard, just in case whatever White guy who wrote the movie, fucks up and traumatizes us with surprise images he didn’t give any thought to showing. Sometimes, when watching films, we have to constantly be wary of either being freshly traumatized by something on the screen,  or desperately clinging to whatever tiny nuggets are in the film, that we can apply to our lived experiences, in order for us to like it.

Not that White male reviewers are all particularly lazy, but there’s a very shallow sort of film critique that a lot of them engage in, that’s only about whether the movie is objectively good or bad, or the technical details. (And ranking movies seems to be really popular with such people, too.) There’s nothing inherently wrong with those kinds of reviews, but often people from marginalized groups require reviews that are a little more in-depth.

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White men don’t get a lot of  practice of thinking about movies through different lenses, the way marginalized people often have to do. Many of them only have one lens, because most movies are made with them in mind as the audience, so they don’t NEED to look further into a movie, in order to like or dislike it. I’m not particularly interested in  a shallow review, or in ranking things from best to worst. If the word “suck” is mentioned anywhere in their critique, I  automatically dismiss anything else they might have to say about the movie. I want more from a critique than “It sucked!”

Yes. This is yet another essay on how White male film geeks review movies which star people of color!

After Earth (2013)

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I have a real issue with how badly this movie was treated by everyone. The critics made it very clear that this was an awful film. It was not. And when this movie was released, Black people were not in the social position we’re in right now, where we could see how groundbreaking this was, (it was released just before BLM), and we were not in a position to provide pushback to the narrative that this was the worst film ever made.

No!

What it was, was a  film that was attacked with the agenda of demonizing  M. Night Shyamalan and Scientology. Will  and Jaden Smith were simply caught in the crossfire. This movie, while not a masterpiece, was vilified entirely out of proportion to its effect on the landscape. At any other time, especially any time after 2014, it would have been recognized as a middle-of-the-road, Summer blockbuster.

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After Earth can be seen through both a thematic and racial lens, as  an example of Afrofuturism. Seeing this movie through a racial lens means that I need to put on my Black filmgoers glasses, and view the movie through the historical depictions of Black people in film, and whether or not the film has any messages in it that are about racial stereotyping, or agency, for example. This movie contains these things, not because it contains overt messages about race, but because it stars Black characters, and  our mere presence in the source material is enough to make whatever we say and do a political issue.

 

In After Earth, which stars Will Smith and his son Jaden, a father and son reconcile their feelings about each other, as the son comes of age, while set against the backdrop of planetary survival. A thousand years after Earth has been abandoned, their ship crashes, and  an alien predator the ship was carrying, called the Ursa, is set loose. Will and Jaden Smith are both Black men. The movie has no White characters in it. There are spaceships, alien/human cityscapes, and futuristic weaponry. This is as much Afrofuturism as Black Panther, and there is definitely some sort of dialogue occuring between the two films, though they were released several years apart, because they both involve sons dealing with the emotional legacies of  powerful fathers.

https://drmillerjr.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/after-earth-is-afrofuturism/

Traditionally, Black people have been erased from futuristic narratives, and Afrofuturism is an attempt to center us, and our cultures, and priorities, in those narratives. Will Smith, in particular, has a long history of starring in Science fiction films like Men in Black, Enemy of the State, and I Am Legend, movies that tackle the subjects of alien immigration, dystopian state surveillance, and the apocalypse, all features of what is, traditionally, White futurism.

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After Earth has much to say about the relationships between fathers and sons, how sons want to live up (or down) their father’s legacies, and how father’s must reach out and connect with their children. Cypher Raige is a man who is cut off from his emotions because that is what has helped him to survive. In our world, it would be said that he suffers from a toxic form of masculinity, but Cypher’s ability to cut himself off from his feelings has made him one of Earth’s greatest soldiers against an alien race  that uses human fear to hunt and kill human beings. Cypher has gotten rid of fear, but in the process he’s also gotten rid of some of the  more positive emotions. He is a controlling, authoritative, and grim father figure, without much humor or warmth.

This lack of fear has made him a great Ranger, but it has made him an indifferent father to his son, Kitai, (a name which means “Hope” or “Prince of the Air”). Kitai wants not just to be like his father, follow in his footsteps, and become a great soldier, but to emotionally connect with his father. He wants desperately to know his father loves and supports him, especially after he fails his last exam to become a Ranger. He believes his father thinks he’s a failure because its what he himself believes. He is also suffering from the trauma of the death of his sister, who sacrificed her life to protect him from one of the Ursas, his guilt at being unable to save her, and his father for not being there when it happened. These are the motivations behind many of the decisions Kitai makes after he and his father crash on a long abandoned Earth, and Cypher is too injured to walk.

This set up puts the two of them in a position where they are required to rely on each other, not just physically, but emotionally. Kitai’s character arc involves learning that he is as capable a soldier as his father, and does not need to carry all these emotional burdens,  and Cypher’s character arc means having to open up to his son emotionally, and expressing how he really feels, and that that will be the only way his son can save both their lives. And all of this is an allegory about the emotional connections between Black men,  living in a White supremacist society, that is intrinsically dangerous to them, and requires that they be  hypermasculine, and emotionally cut off in order to survive it.

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Cypher Raige Everything on this planet has evolved to kill humans. Do you know where we are?

Kitai Raige No, sir.

Cypher Raige This is Earth.

Viewing a movie through a racial lens requires that I provide some historical context to my opinions. I could discuss how the American version of the performance of toxic masculinity is based on a White supremacist dominance hierarchy, that requires violent domination and oppression of non-Whites, and that to survive this oppression, Black men have have felt the need to “out man” their oppressors. To essentially be more dominant, and more manly, than the White men who established this hierarchy to keep them in their place, and that their emotional disconnect with each other is not only what is ultimately desired by this dynamic, but leads to worse oppression, because attempting to compete with White men, to be more manly, dehumanizes them, and doesn’t allow them to unite against a system created just for that purpose.

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https://oliviaacole.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/black-children-and-after-earth/

This movie had messages, moments, and dialogue,  that greatly resonated with me. The scene in which Cypher believes he has lost his son, in the same manner in which he lost his daughter, (both of them trying to win their emotionally distant, father’s approval),  was deep for me, as I suspect it was for many of  the Black men who watched it, and  who considered  their relationships with their own fathers, or their sons.

I watched After Earth several times, and it’s one of my favorite movies, which is why I was interested in why so many critics hated this movie,

 

(https://news.usc.edu/144379/usc-study-finds-film-critics-like-filmmakers-are-largely-white-and-male/)

and while there are a few legitimate criticisms that can be made about this movie, most of the criticism I saw wasn’t any different than the criticism I could lob at films with White stars. There is nothing wrong with the acting in this movie that is wrong in any of the other movies Will Smith has made, nor is there anything wrong with Will Smith making a movie with his son as the star, as he did in The Pursuit of Happyness, nor is this movie Scientology propaganda, any more than the other movies in which Smith was the star. (Will and Jada Smith have clearly, and emphatically, stated that they are not Scientologists, only sympathizers.)

I believe a lot of non-professional critics didn’t approach criticism of this movie in good faith, and I believe more than a few of them used the flaws in this movie as an excuse to express their racial resentment about the fact that there were no White men centered in this movie. There are also plenty of White people who felt some type of discomfort at not being centered, or even depicted, in the movie at all, and unwilling to attribute their discomfort to their narcissism, attributed their discomfort to the film being bad. The message of the movie, the relationship between young men and their fathers, is a universal one, (and I’m certain that many White men understood and enjoyed it, but then they’re not film critics), and it is well documented that  White audiences have always had trouble identifying with Black characters on screen.

https://www.salon.com/2016/10/05/luke-cage-and-the-racial-empathy-gap-why-do-they-talk-about-being-black-all-the-time/

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

https://mic.com/articles/74291/why-white-people-won-t-see-black-movies#.J55x1mpgF

 

Will Smith is an especially beloved actor, so many critics would not attack him directly, but they can get away with tossing insults at Shyamalan, and questioning his motivations for making the movie. One of the major criticisms I encountered were White critics who said the movie was a thinly veiled attempt to recruit viewers to Scientology. Why? Because Will Smith and Shyamalan are Scientologists. This is suspicious to me since none of these critics have ever given one thought to Smith being a follower of Scientology in any of his other Scifi movies.

And sometimes people will express racial resentment towards individual people that they don’t feel they can express against an entire group of people. So rather than saying “All ____ are ______.” , what they will do is vehemently call out the mistakes of individuals from those groups, in order to disguise their loathing for the entire group. The individual becomes a stand-in for racial sentiments they are reluctant, for whatever reasons, to express out loud. (And since they only ever attack individuals of that group, they never have to admit whatever phobia or -ism there is, to themselves.)

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For example, witness some of the more  interesting criticism that White male film critics have said about Captain Marvel being military propaganda, when the same could be said of nearly every other movie in the MCU, at which none of them lobbed this complaint. And one can witnesses the same dynamic play out in the Jussie Smollett case, where people tried to hide their homophobia by expressing deeply vehement criticism of him, and his circumstances.

This type of criticism is dishonest, and disingenuous, and serves to protect the critic from backlash if they state their actual reasons for not liking some film, which is really ,  “I didn’t like this movie because there were no White men in it for me to identify with.” (This is not a hard and fast rule, all the time,  because plenty of White people liked Get Out, Black Panther, and other Afro-centered movies, but it is far too common, and there are too many, who  think they’re not being racist because they liked two or three highly popular movies that starred Black actors. It’s  basically, the critical equivalent of, “I have Black friends!”

I’m not the only person to notice this type of bullshittery either:

https://heraldiccriticism.wordpress.com/2013/06/14/when-criticism-becomes-agenda-setting-in-defense-of-after-earth/

 …but when you’re trashing a film based on its star’s belief system, you’ve ceased to criticize. You’re now spearheading an agenda.

Fred Harris touched on some of my suspicions, here:

Did a perception that this is somehow a “Black film” have anything to do with its poor opening? I know that this is a question that Hollywood producers (black and white) must be asking as they prepare for a summer of Black films.

https://newsone.com/2530136/after-earth-movie-review-racism/

And if you are wondering why I haven’t brought up “The Pursuit of Happyness” just yet, which was given 4 out of 5 stars by IMDB, it’s because Jaden was cute and fuzzy back then — and it was his debut. But the moment it seems that the Smiths are actually on to something, meaning leaving a life-long legacy for their children, now all bets are off.

Now we will call Jaden’s acting with his blockbuster dad an exercise in “vanity,” now we are disgusted with the apparent nepotism that this type of pairing suggests.

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This movie was nominated for a Razzie, and was panned by almost every White male critic with a pen and an ax to grind. All of them questioned whether or not Will Smith had lost his Star power, and what that would mean for his future films. Even Bright, a film I intensely hated, wasn’t panned as badly as this movie.

Outside of my usual critical ranting, I also want to shine a light on why my opinions on a lot of movies can sometimes diverge from that of critics, what criteria I  use, what lenses  through which I can,and will, see a movie,  and how I approach watching and critiquing movies and TV shows, vs how White film critics might view movies I happen to love, and how these two ways of seeing a movie are sometimes not compatible.

This is a mindset I have had no choice but to develop though, because, as a Black woman,  I am generally not the audience  that a lot of these movies of are made for. I have had to look beyond surface issues, like whether or not it was better than some other film in a franchise, to find reasons to like movies that White people love, and sometimes I’m successful, but sometimes, I also get tired of making the effort to care, and skip the movie altogether, as I did with Ready Player One, and Back to the Future.

White men have never had to look deeper than the technical aspects of cinematography, plot, pacing, or whether or not the hero of the movie looked like them, and what that might mean if he did. For them, the movies they love don’t even need to have any meaning. When you hear them complaining about entertainment being political this is what mean. For such men, movies and TV really are not political, because they don’t need to have any deeper meaning to enjoy a movie. They can just be flatly judgmental about whether or not a movie is just “good” or “bad”, because traditionally, the movies, which are aimed at them as the audience, are supposedly universal, and  appealing  to everyone. Too many critics never go beyond the mindset of ,”I liked this movie, so naturally, everyone else must like it, and here’s why it’s so great.” I can  critique a movie from that angle but its shallow, and  “unsatisfying” for me.

It has always been my rule since I was a teenager, really, to only rely on myself to determine whether or not a movie is any good, but after examining this for some time,  I have come to the conclusion that I most definitely cannot rely on  the opinions of White men to determine if a movie is bad or good for me, or indeed, anyone, other than themselves.

I have always tried to be honest about why I did or didn’t like something. Even if I don’t know why  I feel the way I do, I’m willing to say that too, and state that, where I found nothing in the movie to intrigue me, the movie may be of interest to someone else. I will flat out state, I’m not interested in a movie because it lacks racial nuance, or because its not feminist enough, the way I did for Wonder Woman.

This is not a mindset I’ve seen, from some critics, that a movie simply might not be made for them. One of the key warning signs that you are with a bad critic, is their insistence that a movie is objectively bad or good, and that if you disagree with them, then something is wrong with you. I’ve seen far too many critics assert that, because they liked a movie, it was good, and that a movie was bad, because they didn’t like it, and then, on top of that, say that that they gave an objective review. I have hated plenty of movies that are, in fact, very good and cohesive films. But I’ve also loved plenty of movies that just aren’t great movies. Just like After Earth.

No! There’s nothing wrong with you. You are simply looking at the film through a different lens, and using different criteria than them. and you must be confident that YOU know what you like in a film.

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Side note: I do not believe in “guilty pleasures”. I am never ashamed of loving or liking  a movie, or television show. I have my reasons for why I like something, I have actually thought it through, and I’m secure enough in my tastes that I know what my reasons are, even if the only reason is that it makes me feel happy, or that it looks pretty! I may occasionally be ashamed that I didn’t catch something seriously wrong with a movie, in my zeal to praise it, but I  am generally not ashamed when I like something, or to admit that I do, nor will I feel guilty about it.

And you shouldn’t either.

As a corollary to that general rule, I refuse to shame people for their own tastes, even if I find those tastes “puzzling”… If you can explain to me in a coherent manner why you love something (even if your only explanation is it makes you happy, or its just pretty), I can get with that. Your feelings about a movie are entirely valid, and you will never hear me describe anything on this blog as a “guilty” pleasure, and I would prefer that you don’t either.

Own your feelings!

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https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/after-earth-2013

https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/in-defense-of-after-earth-the-m-night-shyamalan-movie-we-misunderstood

*Coming Soon: Why We Loved Suicide Squad and Venom, and Why They Didnt’

In Defense of The Village

 

 

For the me, there’s more than a movie just being good or bad, whatever that means, because,  as a Black woman, I am not the audience for a lot of movies that get made, so I have to find different ways of connecting to a movie. In doing so, I  sometimes  find gems where others don’t, or end up liking  movies others are set on hating (and yeah, sometimes a movie just stinks.) On this blog, I’m not necessarily here to tell you what to like. That’s a reviewers job, and I’m not actually a reviewer, although I do reviews. I consider my job to provide a fresh perspective on a movie, a way you may not have thought of before, so that the next time you come across it on TV or Netflix, you’ll remember ,and give the movie a try, maybe see it with fresh eyes.

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I’m going to talk about two films that were hated by its critics, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, and (in the next post) Shyamalan’s After Earth. I see value in these films that other critics don’t because they are not looking at these films through the same lens that I’m using. (Caveat: Some of them don’t have the luxury. They are film reviewers and must go see movies I can happily reject. I can pick what I want to see, so I can remain positive about a lot of movies, in a way they may not be able to.

These movies resonated with me on an emotional level, and because of that, I am reluctant to say that they are “objectively” bad or good, which is a favorite word for armchair movie reviewers on Youtube. I’m not saying movies can’t be considered bad or good, but often that those words are sometimes wrongly used to describe movies that just did or didn’t emotionally resonate with the viewer, or did or didn’t do whatever the viewer wanted the movies to do. This doesn’t always mean the movie was bad. Sometimes it just means the viewer wasn’t the audience for that movie, or just didn’t get what they wanted out of it because of the critical lens through which they watched it. I have sometimes found that a movie isn’t actually  bad, but that the reviewer had very different criteria for liking it, or viewed it through a very different lens than I did.

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For that reason, I generally avoid hate- watching movies and shows. I want to like what I see, and if I dislike something, I try to have a concrete reason behind why I didn’t. But sometimes I don’t have a reason. Sometimes, I simply wasn’t in the mood to watch it at that time, and when I come back wearing a different emotional, or critical lenses, I may enjoy it, as was the case with  the movies Ravenous,  The Descent, and My Cousin Vinny.

Sometimes, I will develop an undying hatred of a movie, such that no amount of lens polishing will allow me to enjoy it, like the movie Prometheus. This doesn’t mean that Prometheus was a bad film. It just means it was exasperating for me to watch it, and someone else might get enjoyment out of it. If you like it that’s great. If you can clearly explain to me why you do, I’ll watch it again, with your lenses on, and try to see what you saw in it. On the other hand, and as I’ve said before, just because critics hate something doesn’t mean I’m not going to like it, such was the case with Suicide Squad, and just about any movie by Zack Snyder.

I have also seen  situations where public opinion on a movie changes over a length of time. Movies that were panned when released were, in time, lauded as being the best whatever of their genre, and I have found that I’m usually correct in having loved the film at that time. As a result, I’ve gotten pretty confident about my taste in movies, (and dismissive of critics ideas about movies I happened to enjoy), because I usually get proven right, at some later date. This happened with a number of eighties films, (The Thing, and  Bladerunner, for example), that were disliked at the time, only to be considered Classics of the genre, twenty and thirty years later. (No, I didn’t hate E. T. I was indifferent to it, at the time, and still mostly am.)

 

The Village

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I love stories and characters, and movies are just another way to tell stories. I  get into a movie through its characters. I have to like them. I’m also attracted to certain types of stories, but it’s not the minutiae of the story, like pacing and technical aspects, so much as what type of story, and if it’s an appealing story to me. I tend to love GRAND ROMANTIC stories. Not stories with romance in them , but stories with huge, grand, idealized philosophies, and if I see that in the story, chances are I will probably love the movie.

And this was the case with The Village. Yes, it does have a romance in it, but it also contained wider, broader themes about the human condition, that just appealed to me personally, (because ultimately, any movie experience is deeply personal). When this movie was released, it was panned by everyone, with some people jumping on that bandwagon because they hated the director, who started his career as a media darling, but public opinion  turned on him, after a series of failed films.

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When I’m watching a movie, I’m mostly concentrating on how the movie made me FEEL. When I’m reviewing a movie, I ask myself different questions that help me evaluate what the movie means to me, what did I like in the movie, what was it about the movie that resonated with me, and why did I feel that way. From the micro, to the macro.

What is the point of the story? What is the theme of the movie?

Things can get complicated, just at this one point. According to the trailers for The Village, most of the people walking into the film expected it to be a horror movie, and they focused on the idea of monsters because that’s what the trailer told them to focus on. But the movie was not about scary monsters, and a lot of the audience walked away disappointed. Rather than accepting what was given to them, they focused on what they were not given: monsters. I wanted monsters too, because that’s what I was told would be in the movie, but finding out there was no monster was a pleasant surprise for me.

The Village is not a horror movie, in the strictest sense of the word, and apparently,  I was one of the few people who were okay with that at the time. I didn’t leave the theater upset because  I didn’t get to see monsters. Would I have liked the monsters in the movie to be real? Sure. But The Village turned out to be deeper than I expected. It had a grand, overarching, theme that resonated with me. It’s a meditation on unrequited love, grief, and loss, and I was pleased that I got that instead. If one disregards the trailer, than the movie accomplishes exactly what it set out to accomplish.

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I  try to walk into a movie viewing experience with only loose expectations, like, “What type of story is it?” and “Will this be entertaining?” Based on what I think the movie may be about, I try to go in open to anything that may happen in it, without trying to place my agenda (what I want the story to do for me) onto the movie. But I do want to feel something, while I try to keep in the forefront of my mind, what is the creator trying to tell me, what do they want me to know, and what purpose might that serve.

What I  expect, on the most basic level, is to be emotionally moved by the characters, and entertained by the plot. I’m going to go wherever the movie wants to take me, and accept whatever scenery I’m given. I don’t worry about plot holes, or pacing, or musical cues, and stuff, (although, if I notice them and like them, that’s a huge plus, like with the movie Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse). Was the movie entertaining? Did I stay engaged the entire time? Was there a point to the story? Later, I can ask myself deeper questions like why was it entertaining for me, or what was it about the movie that made it fun for me, or scary, or funny.

What you should always ask yourself is: What did the story do for you?

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The story in a movie is like being on a driving tour. That tour has a theme,  sometimes several. The driver is the storyteller, and he/she directs the action, decides where we’re going to go, and what we’ll be seeing on the tour. The characters onscreen are the other passengers on the tour, or just some people on the scene.  I like the other passengers, and  I enjoy watching them do things I didn’t expect, and see things I wouldn’t have found on my own. Sometimes the other passengers are terrifying, but it’s okay because they can’t actually hurt me.

If I think it’s a Horror movie, (if the driver has told me I’m going to be scared on my trip), I expect the journey to scare me. If I wasn’t scared, then the driver lied to me, but if I was given more than  just a scare, I consider that a bonus. That was the case with The Village. I was told (although I was not told that by M. Night Shyamalan/The Driver, himself, but a third uninvolved party, the people who made the trailer and marketed the movie), that I would be scared, and I was a little bit, but at the same time, the journey was worthwhile because of the movie’s other elements. I got something deeper, and much more unexpected, than just a scare. As I said before, I like Horror movies to have something extra, whether its romance, or comedy, or intellectual depth.

If I have been lead to believe it’s an Action movie, then I expect to see thrills, and spills. If a movie delivers on its basic foundation, but adds something extra, I can and will overlook all manner of faults, like plot points, pacing,  bad characters,  timing, or even whether or not it delivered on what I expected.This was the case with Suicide Squad, a movie critics absolutely hated, but I (and a bunch of other people) really enjoyed. Why? Because I genuinely liked the characters, who did exciting and interesting things on screen. I enjoyed their interactions with each other, and I liked a lot of the action scenes, which were just plain fun. There are a lot of perfectly legitimate criticisms of this movie, but the reason I love it is because it was a really fun trip, and other people’s problems with the movie were not enough to keep me from enjoying it.

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What is the theme of the film? What is its message?

Understanding the message of a film often requires multiple viewings. There’s the initial impression, and based on whether or not I liked my initial impression, there will be multiple viewings, which will allow for greater insight. My mind is just really, really, good at recognizing patterns. That’s all it is, and anybody can develop that skill. I do it through lots of repetition.You cannot gain greater insight into a movie with only one viewing, because the insights  are often in the details you didn’t notice that first time. If there is something  I didn’t care for in my initial impression (like all the characters being unlikable), there are unlikely to be repeat viewings.

This also ties into how my mind works as a visual artist/illustrator.  When I first watch a movie, its from a kind of  overhead viewpoint. I get into the emotions of the movie, the characters, and the overall plot. Subsequent viewings allow me to focus on the finer details. Later, I will fit those tiny details into larger and larger patterns. It’s really like putting together a puzzle. You see the finished picture on the box,  and you like it. You sort the pieces and then  put them together to create that final picture, (sometimes that final picture may be part of an even larger picture, as well.)

The messages I got from The Village were about love, sacrifice, and grief. It’s  a story about LOVE, with parallel tracks chronicling different types of love, such as romantic,unrequited, sacrificial, and possessive.. There’s the romantic type of love between Lucius and Ivy, the tragic love between their parents, Walker and Alice, and the possessive love that Noah feels for Ivy.  Ivy and Walker are examples of sacrificial love, as they are both willing to sacrifice their peace to save Lucius’ life. Ivy endangers her life for Lucius, and Walker is willing to allow Ivy to leave (and possibly lose her) because he loves Alice, Lucius’ mother.

At the beginning of the movie, Ivy’s sister declares her love for Lucius, but is rebuffed because Lucius prefers Ivy. There is a contrast in how Ivy’s sister reacts to unrequited love, which is sacrifice and moving on vs. Noah’s reaction, which is possessive violence. And then there is the unspoken love between Ivy’s father, and Alice. This is unrealized love. The two are in love, and according to the rules of the society they created, can never  be together.

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There is familial love between Ivy and Walker, and  Lucius and Alice. This type of love is emphasized through the character’s reactions to loss and grief. There are also  all the missing family members that the other characters mention, the loss of family that spurred them to run away from the world, to form a “utopian” society where they believed grief could not touch them. The movie opens with a funeral, and the death of a child. Grief can still access their lives. The pain is still going to happen, for example, witness how many times we see  shots of empty chairs throughout the movie.

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An empty chair in a movie scene is often meant to represent a space where someone should be. In this movie, the empty chairs, usually situated on porches, (or at dinner tables), which are, traditionally the site of familial gatherings, are meant to represent  the absence of loved ones. The entire movie carries a mood of unspoken grief and melancholy, which is only alleviated by its hopeful ending. The Elders of the community fled to The Village because each one of them has experienced the tragic loss of a family member, and  the point of the movie is that they cannot run away from loss or pain. The scattered, empty chairs are a constant reminder of their loss.

Critics and audiences completely turned against Shyamalan and started denigrating all of his films for not being as good as his first film, The Sixth Sense. They went into his next movies expecting all of them to have  surprise twists, and they do have surprise twists, just not the kinds of twists that were expected. (To be absolutely fair, Shyamalan definitely made some questionable film choices, though.) In the case of The Village, audiences were expecting a Horror movie, but since the monsters turned out to be false, some people decided that the movie was no good, because the trailer fooled them into thinking the monsters should’ve been real.

Many of these people failed to realize that the surface levels of Shyamalan’s movies are often not the point of the film, anyway. What appears to be the primary plot is often simply a backdrop for the telling of a different story altogether. The point of this movie isn’t the monsters. The  basic plot is just a backdrop for the examination of love and grief, just as the point of the movie Signs, isn’t the alien invasion. The alien invasion is simply a backdrop against which is being told the story of Reverend Graham regaining his faith in God. The story of Unbreakable isn’t about superheroes, but  about the disbelief in the modern mythology of superheroes, and one man overcoming that disbelief to take a leap of faith, and believe in himself.

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Now, I also must discuss here, the disturbing racial angle of some people’s criticism. Shyamalan is one of the few men of color directing big budget Hollywood movies. True, they are not always successful movies,  but audiences and critics did not seem willing to give his movies any chances after The Sixth Sense. They kept wanting him to repeat that first film, and some of them seemed to look no deeper into the motivations behind his stories beyond “the twist”. The Twist seemed to be all they wanted from him, and when he stepped away from that, to make other types of films, they vilified him for it.

I bring this up because I see the same thing happening in real time to Jordan Peele, especially after his comments in which he voiced the idea, that being a filmmaker gave him a platform, by which he could showcase actors of color, as leads. Its as if having been successful twice, there are people waiting in the wings for him to make a mistake, any mistake, which they can use to vilify his character, and bring him down. When men and women of color are highly successful, there is a contingent of White people who wait for them to make even the most minor of miscues, so that they can attempt to humble them. I witnessed this with Barack Obama, Beyonce, and I’m seeing it now with Ocasio – Cortez, and Jordan Peele. And I believe this is what happened with Shyamalan.

White film directors are given numerous opportunities to make bad films, some of them, have entire careers that consist of little more than mediocre flops, and yet the filmmakers have never received the sheer levels of vitriol that was leveled at Shyamalan by film critics. Some of them still manage to have great careers, or be considered critical darlings. Yes, he still manages to have a career, (so somebody is going to see Shyamalan’s movies), but critics insist on tearing apart all of his films, on the most minor details, no matter their quality, while sometimes excusing  just as shoddy work from some White filmmakers. And as I said before, some people use the failures and mistakes of PoC as an excuse to openly express the racism they’ve been taught not to express against an entire group of people.

 

People of Color Knit Too

Here’s some reading for your weekend:

Photo Credit Corbis Images

The knitting, fiber ,and yarn communities are not normally ones you’d associate with racism, but I think of it this way: Are White people involved in the community in question? Then chances are there are probably a few racists in it. And the yarn community consists of millions of people, worldwide. So yeah, some of them are gonna show their asses as regards race, some of them are going to dismiss the issue because its not anything that directly affects them, and some of them are going to be rightfully appalled, which is something that happened in the past 4 months, in an incident that sent ripples through the entire community.

Now, I do have to admit to never giving this a whole lot of thought myself, although I had noticed the lack of PoC fiber artists, yarn dyers, and designers, and no representation of women of color as models in the many books and magazines I used for reference. For me, it  was just part of the everyday erasure of color from any other community. I made a note of those things, and kept it moving, because most of the online spaces I frequent are pretty diverse. Most of the fiber arts workers  I’ve met in real life tend to behave themselves. Most of them are Black women.

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*I missed a lot of this because it all went down on Instagram, and I’ve cut my social media consumption to Blogging and Tumblr, so I mostly got the aftermath.

So, what had happened was:

https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/2/25/18234950/knitting-racism-instagram-stories

On January 7, she blogged excitedly about her upcoming trip to India. She wrote that 2019 would be her “year of color.” She said that as a child, India had fascinated her, and that when an Indian friend’s parents offered to take her with them on a trip, it was “like being offered a seat on a flight to Mars.” She spoke of her trip as if it were the biggest hurdle anyone could jump: “If I can go to India, I can do anything — I’m pretty sure.” Templer, it should be noted, is white.

As someone who is mixed-race Indian, to me, her post (though seemingly well-meaning) was like bingo for every conversation a white person has ever had with me about their “fascination” with my dad’s home country; it was just so colorful and complex and inspiring. It’s not that they were wrong, per se, just that the tone felt like they thought India only existed to be all those things for them.

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TL;DR: This woman said some rather clueless Eat Pray Love type shit about visiting India, and actual Indian people didn’t care much for that. I get that she wasn’t trying to offend. I get that her intention was not malignant. Nevertheless, I do not have a problem with people calling for her to think deeper about  what she said.

 

But her post triggered a wave of conversations  and responses from the entire community, about racism and prejudice in the fiber arts world, which thus far shows no signs of slowing down.

* From: u/coleo24:

Anyone care to explain the Tusken Knits business?

I have a few knitter friends and one posted something about diversity in knitting (which despite being the only black knitter I know I haven’t thought of too much) which led me down a rabbit hole. A few people mentioned some issues with a video posted by Tusken Knits. I’ve done some googling but can’t figure out exactly what it’s about. Anyone care to enlighten/discuss/share general thoughts about diversity in knitting?

From: SOEDragon

S*T*A*S*H

So, for the past 4 weeks, there has been a large conversation about racism in the knitting community which spans from lack of representation to outright hostility towards BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). It started from a Fringe Supply Co blog post about going to India. Since then, there has been an outcry, primarily on IG, about fixing this issue. The “white” response has been everything from “we need to do better” to “why are you being so mean to us”. TuskenKnit’s most recent youtube video falls into the latter category. It was also uncovered that she had connections to actual Neo-Nazis via social media. Her Youtube video was a whole lot of tone policing and white fragility and she made a lot of vague claims that many in the knitting community, especially business, have reached out to her and said they feel the same way. She is also moderating comments on all platforms so that negative comments are removed. @wenchlette, @su,krita, @burkehousecrafts, and @masteryarnsmith have excellent summaries in their stories/recent posts/saved highlights that have more information.

As for my personal involvement, I have been making a concerted effort to diversify my IG feed to include BIPOC designers/dyers/podcasters/etc. I have been listening and I mean *really listening* to what BIPOC individuals have to say about their experience. I have also been reading *a lot* about white privilege and all that comes with it. Lots of people are recommending Layla Saad’s “Me and My White Supremacy” workbook which is free to download which assists white and white-passing people to learn and engage their own involvement in a structured way. I found at the beginning of this conversation that my very privileged (white and otherwise) upbringing prevented me from really engaging in the conversation so a lot of what I’ve done has been listening and googling and reading so I feel that I have the knowledge and vocabulary to actually communicate. On a more fun note, there are some amazing yarn dyers/podcasters/designers I completely missed that I am IN LOVE with now.

 

 

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* https://knitting.craftgossip.com/on-racism-in-the-knitting-community/2019/01/16/

I haven’t written about this before because as a white person with little to no influence in the industry, I felt like it wasn’t my place to speak up about it, that it was more important to listen to those voices that have experienced racism in the industry and in their lives.

But of course I have this space and I can amplify their messages, and this is such an important topic for the knitting community and the craft community as a whole to confront.

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*http://www.woolyventures.com/knitting-and-white-fragility/

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*http://thewoolnest.blogspot.com/2019/01/inclusion-and-acceptance.html

I have always welcomed everyone and will continue to do so, here on my blog, on my website and my audio podcast. I will continue to feel proud to both engage with and teach people from all different communities, from any gender/ethnicity/race/religion/level of income and also including people with physical and mental disabilities. I will continue to grow and build upon my past experiences to help you all to learn and develop your knitting and crochet skills. 

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*The knitting community is still perceived as a White community, and we are having some amount of effort convincing people that there are indeed PoC who knit (although most of the ones I’ve met are crocheters.)

 

*https://ladydyeyarns.com/?p=955

As a knitter and African-American woman business owner in the yarn industry, I know many minorities that knit and I know some minority knitwear designers who I have met at shows – and I know there are more.  Yet I have yet to find a yarn company or indie dyer in addition to myself who has attended a local or national show. In fact, between my attendance at the The National NeedleArts Association trade show in 2014 and the recent Stitches Conference, I was the only African-American business owner at these two shows. Why is this? I am sure there are other minority business owners out there. And I am not just talking about African-Americans. Yes, I am black but I know Latinos, Asians, and Africans who knit or crochet. Why are we not represented well in the knitting community?

* http://www.jeanettesloandesign.com/black-people-do-knit.html

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https://sheeptoshawl.com/knit-diversity-knitting/

Hello! My name is Gaye Glasspie, most folks know me as GG from GGmadeit.com and I knit. I am the writer behind the blog Confessions of a YarnHo. I also happen to a POC (person of color) Did that statement make you gasp? Did it shock you? I pray your response was “no,” because in my opinion, one has nothing to do with the other.

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#knittinginblackhistory I promise I love you guys! This was sent to me by Bronwyn on the blog 😍 thank you 😘the facts: source -the Ohio guide collection. Time period 1930-1940 place -Toledo Ohio. The picture is titled “Sewing Class” but they are clearly knitting 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 the description says “unidentified women work on knitting and sewing during a Works Progress Administration sewing class in Toledo Ohio #weknittoo #ggmadeit #blackknittersofinstagram #blackgirlsknit #knittinginhistory

girl knitting, Where to keep my needles>>>

 

BIPOC Knitting Stories

Here are a few of the replies to the above events:

*https://plymagazine.com/2019/01/trying-harder-support-bipoc/

It’s up to us to help make the fiber community safe and welcoming for BIPOC. Not being actively racist is not enough. You’ve got to actively be inclusive. You’ve got to actively be anti-racist. You’ve got to actively seek out BIPOC as designers, as spinners, as dyers, as companions. And I hear you again, “But why? Isn’t it more fair if I just purchase their wares when and if they appeal to me? That seems less racist, just taking race out of it.” Except that’s not actually feasible in the world we live in. It’s not. You are far less likely to see their work, their designs, their dyed fiber, their spun yarn because of our current paradigms. For now, we’ve gotta do a little work to make the world a better and safer place.

 

View at Medium.com

*Lisa SanCrom (on Medium. com)

I am a proud Puerto Rican woman. When not trying to save the world, I read, write, and create knitting patterns.

 

While I have met some amazing people of all colors, shapes and sizes in this community, I have also had to justify my existence no less here than anywhere else. Over the 40+ years that I have been primarily knitting (I also spin, weave, crochet, needlepoint, and embroider) I have had to ignore or respond to the following:

  • Steered towards less expensive fibers (Especially, when I am with my accented or darker family & friends. When my brother would go in with me, I was ignored in favor of the inherent munificence of a man in a yarn shop, but that’s a post for another day).
  • Followed/watched
  • Ignored
  • Admonished as not being “A woman of faith” after declining to participate in a particular knit along.

 

*https://www.woolfiend.com/blog

Although as a group they’re disadvantaged, many BIPOC want to be heard and represented. They get tired of having to explain to clueless white people the privilege that they have. They are tired of having to look harder to find a doll that looks like their daughter. They’re tired of Pantene commercials, and similar ads that are only ever targeted at white people and made by white people. They get tired of ads targeted at POC that are really stupidly and obviously made by white people (like people can’t tell). They get tired of having to deal with their lack of privilege and the pain that comes with that. They get tired of being the only ones who SEE the privilege and what it buys us (white people). They get tired of being lumped in as “white enough” or “light-skinned” or “acts white, looks black.” They JUST WANT TO EXIST.

 

What Fandom Racism Looks Like: Misogynoir – Black Women in the Way — Stitch’s Media Mix

Don’t forget to check out last month’s post and the introduction! I may later eat my words because I haven’t seen more than season 1 of ToS or any of the movies but I hate that Uhura in the reboot is just a love sick puppy that follows Spock around. Like she doesn’t even resemble […]

via What Fandom Racism Looks Like: Misogynoir – Black Women in the Way — Stitch’s Media Mix

 

As I mentioned before, (and keep mentioning, because, above everything else), I want the reader to keep in the forefront of their minds, that fandom is not practiced in a vacuum. A lot of fandom tropes, and misbehavior comes directly from real life, and the fans own personal experiences, and knowledge, of race, gender, and sexuality, often imparted to them by a media that is by, for, and about White ,straight men, even if its on a subconscious level.

Fandom has been taught, by decades of media consumption, that Black women CANNOT be love interests. The media has not only taught White women, but has also taught Black women, that we are unloved, unlovable, and not capable of love, which is the foundation behind a lot of arguments that we are “strong, so we don’t need a man”. The foundation of this argument is the Mammy stereotype, who is often defemenized, or sometimes even masculinized, (as a sign of her strength), and who cares so much for her White patron, that she has no concerns for her own life.

https://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/mammies/

The caricature portrayed an obese, coarse, maternal figure. She had great love for her white “family,” but often treated her own family with disdain. Although she had children, sometimes many, she was completely desexualized. She “belonged” to the white family, though it was rarely stated. Unlike Sambo, she was a faithful worker. She had no black friends; the white family was her entire world.

This stereotype is especially recognizable in arguments about how Uhura is too strong to need a man. Instead, she is meant to be background support of a mlm relationship, that has absolutely no chance, whatsoever, of becoming canon. It is interesting to me that in their erasure and denigration of Black characters, that so many fans (especially the ones who consider themselves feminists), tend to fall back on Black stereotypes they’ve consumed from media. To me, it shows the insidiousness of racism. That media that goes unexamined is media that has filled one’s mind with beliefs one may not actually “believe”.

It took me many years to root out some of the more damaging beliefs, about being a Black woman, from my own consumption of Pop culture, and this happened despite my mother’s vigilance in making sure that I consumed messages in other forms of media (Black media, for example), that did not reinforce stereotypes, so I know how sneaky this sort of  racist messaging can be.

As I always say, please visit Snitch’s Media blog, where she discusses the how and what of fandom, on the intersection of  race and Queer issues. That’s her area of expertise and I always go to her blog when I need to know what kind of fu**ery  the fandom has been engaging, and I like to riff on her posts, rather than subjecting her to one of my long winded comments on her blog.

My agenda isn’t so much what the fans are doing, so much as why fandom does it, and to tie her posts to wider media and Pop cultural narratives. There’s a reason why the fandom does what it does, and much of it can be laid at the feet of examined White supremacy that so many of us, (because I’m a fan too), have consumed.

Later, we’ll discuss how the consumption of racist narratives in Pop culture affects the self-esteem of Black girls and women, and how, due to the resurgence of source material created by, for, and about Black women, that’s slowly starting to change.

 

Weekend Reading/ Feb. 22nd, 2019

The Matrix

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This isn’t a new theme, but I liked this little essay about how to enjoy movies with so much gunfire in them, in this age of daily mass shootings. How can we enjoy such scenes, and what makes these scenes different from the kinds of scenes we’ve see on our TV screens, on  a regular basis? And what type of role does such a scene have on the prevalence of mass shootings? Not in causing them, but in inspiring how they’re committed.

https://www.vulture.com/2019/02/reckoning-with-the-matrixs-gun-problem.html

 

 

Romantic Tropes

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There is however a real link between how Hollywood depicts romance, and men’s ideas of how romance is meant to be performed, and what’s considered romantic rather than abusive.

To be fair,women also receive toxic messages about romance, outside of what’s discussed in this essay, like the idea that women  can fix broken men, an idea so normalized in Hollywood, that it even shows up in romantic fiction written by women.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/01/when-pop-culture-sells-dangerous-myths-about-romance/549749/

http://www.collegehumor.com/post/7038172/hey-movies-this-isnt-romantic

 

 

 

Racist Vigilantism

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As to the event that happened with Liam Neeson a couple of weeks ago, in which he confessed to an event of racial vigilantism in his youth,  I think Roland Martin, from TVOne News, says it best. But the point also needs to be made that Liam Neeson was only doing what countless numbers of Hollywood films have encouraged White men to do in the protection of White women’s bodies, which is go out and harm men of color, beginning with Birth of a Nation.  Endless Action movies and Westerns are  predicated on the basic plot of : White man goes out and shoots people he thinks  are bad.

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Liam himself has starred in countless numbers of films in which he avenges the sacrilege, or deaths, of female characters. I’m disappointed, but not angry, at Liam, for doing exactly what he’s been told to do, since the invention of film media. White woman been hurt? Go out and terrorize some Black people!

https://www.thedailybeast.com/black-america-knows-white-avengers-like-liam-neeson-all-too-well?via=newsletter&source=DDAfternoon

 

 

Film Criticism Diversity

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Yeah, we’ve been talking about this for a minute.

https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/6/22/17466246/criticism-film-movie-diversity-annenberg-study-larson-blanchett-bullock-kaling

 

 

The Apocalypse

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The basic idea of this article is that common depictions of the apocalypse are just wrong. We already have examples of how people react in the event of massive life-changing events in places that have experienced natural disasters. So why don’t we ever see any of that in Apoclaypse style movies? In fact the people in those movies, especially Western films, all react the same, running trough the streets, burning, killing and pillaging. Along with the lack of bicycles after the apocalypse, showing people acting a fool, during the end of the world, just makes for more dramatic screen images, I guess.

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https://www.tor.com/2018/11/14/what-really-happens-after-the-apocalypse/

 

 

 

Misogyny

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This one discusses how the disparaging of romance novels, and Chic-Lit, is really just another form of devaluing women’s interests and hobbies, and I agree. I think there’s something to this. Anytime women show an interest in some thing, or engage in an activity, there’s a contingent of gatekeepers, and intelligentsia, who crawl out from under the world’s baseboards, to take a shit on everything from romance novels and coloring books, to scrapbooking and fanfiction, to TV shows and Ugg boots.

In fact, this very much pertains to all Pop culture media, for which women are the audience. Pay close attention to criticism of the kinds of hobbies and interests women engage in, vs, the kinds of interests engaged in by men, and see that you don’t find that much of it is negative.

 

https://thetempest.co/2018/03/09/entertainment/chick-lit-romance-bias/

 

 

 

White Nationalism’s Nightmare

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If you haven’t seen the movie The Girl with All the Gifts, then you need to check it out. This is an interesting analysis of what this movie means to those arguing that White Genocide is a thing. I gave a review of it on this blog.

https://racebaitr.com/2017/07/25/girl-gifts-nightmare-white-supremacy/

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2017/10/17/the-girl-with-all-the-gifts-2016/

What Fandom Racism Looks Like – When White Characters (Somehow) Aren’t White

Let’s keep this short and salty: did y’all know that there are people – thankfully a minority in their respective fandoms – that will claim a white male character or actor isn’t white for some reason or another. Well, if you didn’t know before reading that sentence, I’m willing to be that you’ve figured out […]

via What Fandom Racism Looks Like – When White Characters (Somehow) Aren’t White — Stitch’s Media Mix

Stitch is considered something of an expert on the subject of fandom racism dynamics, since this is something she has intensely studied. I never argue with her findings, but I am constantly surprised by the ways in which fandom seeks to revert to a certain status quo. What I’d  like to do  is build on this by  tying fandom racism back to how its been learned from the source material,  and fan’s understanding of how racism works, through the material they’ve been consuming, because their performance of  these forms of racism  don’t exist in a vacuum. White people (all races really) have been unconsciously inundated with decades of racist messaging in American films, books, and TV,   and  fandom often becomes nothing more than  the act of regurgitating what was consumed, especially if these things have never been critically examined.

I don’t think we can fight against how fandom racism is performed without acknowledgment, or understanding, of how its performance is tied to the decades old, racist narratives in Popular media.

There’s also a new angle to this as well. Since the source material being consumed has become more diverse and inclusive than ever, what I’ve been witnessing, is  fans trying to  bend these narratives to fit their world view – worldviews that have been informed by years of racist narratives. This is just as much an attempt to keep things the way they’ve always been, and they are no less different, from  the harassment campaigns against PoC actors, in an attempt to center Whiteness in Geek media, and reassert the status quo of PoC, and other marginalized groups, on the fringe of narratives that center White characters. This is what such fans are used to, and this is what they twist these stories to reflect. This particular form of fandom racism is often engaged in (but not necessarily exclusive to) White women in fandom, while the more public and aggressive forms of racism are usually engaged in by White men.

I’m going to reiterate that the reason fandom acts this way is that fandom isn’t the slightest bit progressive or woke. In fact, its fairly conservative, and quite a lot of them are thoroughly unimaginative, as well, as the participants do nothing but reproduce the same narratives they’ve seen over, and over, and over, from the  source material (and sometimes other parts of fandom, which accounts for the sheer numbers of coffee shop AUs in fanfiction), – narratives that have been overwhelmingly written, and helmed, by straight white men, who themselves have only the most rudimentary idea of what its like to be a member of a marginalized group.

That’s another reason I’m against racial allegories in fiction, especially the ones referenced above by Stitch. Such narratives do nothing to further dialogue, or deepen understanding of racial issues, because the writers of these narratives do not live, or understand, race in any personal capacity.  All fans get out of these stories is a foundational understanding that “racism is bad”. The Handmaid’s Tale, Zootopia, The Gifted, Teen Wolf, and Bright, are bad racial allegories because they get the depiction of racism wrong, have suspect intentions, borrow the oppression of Poc, while not including them, or  take little to no account of the systemic and institutionalized nature of racism, often showing it as a problem of individuals simply not liking some people.

Contrast those stories to Jordan Peel’s discussion of racism in the movie Get Out, or the music video, This Is America, by Childish Gambino, or the discussions surrounding the movie Black Panther. The understanding of racism is  different when written by those who have  actual knowledge of the subject, something which most fans of the media listed above,  do not have, so all they can do is reproduce the media they’ve been given, and can only  approach these subjects in their meta and fictions with  the performative wokeness  that they are engaging in now.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Men: The Pandering (Pt. Two)

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

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

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

 

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

White Men Control The Stories

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

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

 

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

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

 

Normalization, Exceptionalism and  Universalism

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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Prioritization

From: ‘Forced Diversity’ in Modern Media

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

by: Thaddeus Howze

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

The Generic White Male Lead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The White Savior and the White Man’s Burden

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Chosen One

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

 

The Mighty Whitey 

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

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

 

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

 

Whitewashing

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

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

 

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

 

Erasure

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

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

The Past

The Present

The Future

 

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

 

Cultural Appropriation and Orientalism

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

  • Appropriation of Indigenous Culture in the Fashion Industry

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

Tokenism

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

The Presentation of Everyone Else

 

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

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

 

The Presentation of Gays and Lesbians

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

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

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

 

Queercoding Villains

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

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

Transgender Men and Women

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

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

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

 

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

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

Obesity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Poverty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Disability

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

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

 

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

 

On Race and Gender

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

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

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

 

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

 

The Presentation of Men of Color

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

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

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

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

 

Black Men

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Asian American  Men

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

 

 

Middle Eastern Men and Orientalism

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

The Presentation of Women

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

In other words, they are equated to women.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Image result for latina stereotype

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

The Presentation of Indigenous People

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

The murder and  exploitation of Indigenous women is ongoing.

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

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

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

Next Week Hiatus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

TA Ta until next week.

Kalynn's Korner

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

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