yeloson: (Default)
2012-03-29 01:41 pm

Hunger Games: A thought about performative roles (Spoilery)

It's been a week since I saw the movie, and I've been thinking more about it, as other folks have been talking about it, plus all the stuff in the media going on in general. Especially around race, gender, etc.

So, the thing I really liked about the movie was the way in which the Capital's society clearly devalues life outside of it's happy, privileged existence, and the entitled expectation that people should be happy, even grateful to die for the sake of entertaining their betters. The uncomfortable false romance at end was really a perfect note to highlight the ways people have to make survival choices - you live, but you don't get to keep your truth or identity, and that's a luxury you can't afford. (Also reflected with Cinna and Haymitch's roles in the Capital...).

Anyway, the things I didn't like about the movie was Rue's role as the Magical Negro, and how Thresh basically fulfills the Scary Black Brute role in the matter of 10 seconds.

And it's really just occurred to me - what it says that a story that dissects how privilege eats lives and identities, demands people fulfill unrealistic roles just to be allowed to live (or perhaps, die differently) and at the same time, the movie itself is playing out JUST those roles.

Mainstream America can see it's wrong for Katniss to be forced into false roles for the entertainment of the privileged, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME the only reason Rue, Thresh, or Cinna get to be in characters in this film is the fact that they help the white girl - in a meta sense, the very thing that is crushing to the white protagonist is unremarked, even normalized as required narrative, for the black characters.

Even then, we see backlash from white fandom, as even those roles were too much blackness even then, too many seconds of precious film, too many heartbeats of empathy given, to a characters who ultimately only exist in a narrative sense (as far as the film is concerned) to be aids to the white girl.

I still enjoyed the movie, but it really makes it an interesting thing to consider when you pull back and think about it.
yeloson: (Default)
2012-03-24 02:40 am
Entry tags:

Tweets on Magical Negroes and POC and white media

A bunch of tweets about magical POC stereotypes from Twitter:

Magical Negro characters (and Magical POC in general) not only help the white protagonist, they put their needs above their own.

Characters of color being focused around the needs of white characters is like how Bechdel test points to women built on men's needs in film

It's always interesting how focused they are on making POC "give blessing" to the white characters. Like some white guilt assuaging spell.

NDNs tell the white man it's ok their "time is over", the asian admits the white guy is a better ninja, (cont)

...the black person must admit the white guy has (soul/magic power/dance skills/etc.), ESPECIALLY with their dying breath.

It fuels a double dose of white privilege: "White people are just better at everything" and "POC exist to acknowledge & serve that"

Then we see that shit play out when white folks roll up into spaces, act a fool, wonder why no one is singing Kumbayah and praising them.

Then white ppl, "But aren't you HAPPY you got to have a POC in a movie SERVING a white person?!? Isn't it your DREAM?"

And apparently these stereotypes are so accepted, ppl don't get why folks are not happy with The Help, Avatar, Dances with Wolves, etc.

It says a lot to where the expectation is that we should dream to have the honor of dying for white people as a power fantasy.

And coming out of media, we see these supposed activist groups that can't understand why POC would want to put POC needs before their own.

"Oh, no, your needs don't matter. WHY would you want to focus on something so small as your freedom when you could be working FOR us?!?" OH

Media isn't mind control, but it is influence. And when all these movies tell the same story, a lot of people start to believe it true.

Like: black males are dangerous once they can walk. And they need to be shot in the back unless they unless Blackness WMDs from their backs.

Or that NDNs secretly really want to find a white person to pass all their knowledge onto, so white people should get up in their business.

Or that the bloodstained land was given freely and with smiles and the slaves who worked it were happy to serve...

I read a book on advertising & they pointed out- when you think McD's do you think of the last time you were there, or a commercial?

Many people think of the commercial, not the run down, janky place they go to. The fiction overwrote the reality in their memory.

This same thing is the fictions we tell over and over in mass media. Bias is built up by culture, and media plays a big part.

Media & celebs claim to always be about being "edgy" and new, but if you're repeating racist shit from 100 years ago? #Um

And yes, I hold writers and Hollywood to that- you know your craft. Either you're deliberately shaping it, or you're failing your message.

The fact that the magical POC is so widespread means a lot of folks are choosing the stereotypes & othering for the sake of white privilege.

Like I said earlier about the #TrayvonMartin murder - white delusions will be defended as more important than black lives.
yeloson: (Default)
2011-03-15 10:43 am

Blue Scholars & Kickstarter

One of my favorite hiphop groups from Seattle, Blue Scholars, are funding their next album through Kickstarter.

What's really interesting is that this is effectively folks doing "pre-orders" to fund the whole thing.

This can only work after you've built up a fanbase appropriately, but Blue Scholars has always been savvy about targeting their market- they started by hitting up the small out-of-the-way college towns that rarely get hiphop, or music at all. Consistently hitting up these towns on tour not only made money, it was a good way to build a market.

Now, they're kicking $21,000 out of a $24,000 goal in 9 days. Although I don't think this preorder/ransom model is going to be THE way of music in the future, I think it's going to be a significant method.
yeloson: (pic#459017)
2010-08-27 12:46 pm
Entry tags:

Fiction and Freedom

It's always interesting when someone puts out a work that is racist, sexist, heterosupremacist, or otherwise fucked up and problematic... that when people point out the problematic elements - that the response goes like this:

1) Well, you people don't buy/read/watch this stuff (and therefore your money doesn't matter)
2) We NEED to include this stuff to sell (the rest of the world is bigots and they're our market)
3) You are being irrational oversensitive (Even though I just said in #2 that I'm totally willing to alter my artistic integrity for the sake of irrational market demands to make a profit)

But... once people start saying, "Well, I guess I won't buy/go see/support this work, and maybe other works by this person" THEN suddenly it turns to, "Why are you hateful people trying to put me out of business and starve me and my family? I'm so poor, I work so hard, etc."

Fascinating how our money doesn't matter enough to NOT include messages that have, and still do, get us beaten, murdered, raped, denied jobs, denied health care, education, arrested, etc. but if we decide to take our money elsewhere (after all, we aren't the "target audience") suddenly our money is capable of wrecking entire lives?

This usually also goes hand in hand with "Well, you're trying to censor me!"... which isn't actually true- your work is already out there and critical analysis of it is definitely not the same as enacting government law to remove it OR say, threats against your person to silence you.

Strangely, though, the idea of consumers exercising their free speech about what constitutes a good product or not, or exercising their right to choose what they want to buy or not buy, suddenly freedom is now a threat that must be stopped.

How convenient.

If you really are happy with the market you're targeting, it should never even be an issue when the people who were a "negligible profit" decide to take their money elsewhere.

Of course, what it turns out to being, instead, is that we have creators who:

a) are profiting on bigotry and promoting it
b) are too cowardly to accept the social consequences of it - if you promote bigotry, your work will be labeled as such, and so will you, whether you "believe in it or not".

This is why they focus so much on blaming critics, fans, and the public despite all the claims that they were making conscious market choices. Silencing the social consequences takes a higher priority than the supposed profits.

And if profit isn't the driving motive- then the bigotry is there just because that IS what the creator meant.

The phrase about not assuming malevolence where incompetence will do, actually isn't quite right here. Irrational malevolence is generally too incompetent to hide it's motivations- it reveals itself through it's attempts to defend itself.

If it were just a matter of money, either criticism wouldn't matter, or perhaps, there'd be adjustments to future works, after all, it's "what the people want".

But irrational bigotry? That needs defending.
yeloson: (Default)
2010-04-08 03:19 pm

Avatar Live Action: Let me be honest for you

Let's be clear; we're adults.

The show might have been for kids, but it's adults making it.

Excuses that somehow you're unclear about the ethnic factor of the show is as ridiculous as someone "accidentally" stabbing someone 89 times because their hand slipped.

You spoke with the creators, you read the series style bible, you know the research behind it. There is no confusion where the calligraphy comes from, there is no question where the architecture is from, there is no unclarity where Mantis Fist, Bagua, or Tai Chi originates from. To claim otherwise means you are mentally functioning so low as to be unable to drive a car, much less be put in charge of deciding what to do with multi-million dollar productions.

You make movies, you know everything from casting to the very font on the end credits is a conscious choice of design; you don't "accidentally" cast people. You consciously choose actors to fit appearances all the time. That's why Lord of the Rings didn't look like a multi-cultural Kumbayah Festival. Otherwise, at least for US produced movies, we should only see 66% of the leads being white. Obviously, that's not true.

And now, you're being called on it. You're being called on your cowardice- the fact that, 2010, you're still afraid.

You're afraid of desegregation.

A mentality that there's limited roles for us, and God forbid, we make something that achieves mainstream popularity- that you have to whitewash it. See: Jazz. Rock & Roll. Yoga. Tai Chi. It's only good as long as we're not involved, right?

No, the worst part is that you're giving us these bullshit excuses. If you just did what you do, you would have ONLY been consigned to being labeled racist, ignorant and feeding it to the children, like so many other movies before.

But these excuses of "ironic", "color blind", etc.?

That's terrible. You're acknowledging you know something is fucked up, you're continuing ahead AND you're trying to defend it.

Don't bother defending it. After all, it's Confederate History Month. We get the message. You've decided who matters, who you make movies for. They'll come, you don't need any excuses, you don't need to feel shame, after all, you've decided the demographic you want.

We'll continue to fight the self hate you keep feeding us. We'll keep talking about how you don't even let us have fictional heroes.

After all, the choice to continue in the long Hollywood tradition of white supremacy is yours; we're just reminding you that it's not anything else.
yeloson: (Default)
2010-03-30 01:33 pm

Failbender continues

M. Night on the casting choices for Avatar:

Here's the thing. The great thing about anime is that it's ambiguous. The features of the characters are an intentional mix of all features. It's intended to be ambiguous. That is completely its point. So when we watch Katara, my oldest daughter is literally a photo double of Katara in the cartoon. So that means that Katara is Indian, correct? No that's just in our house. And her friends who watch it, they see themselves in it. And that's what's so beautiful about anime.

Where to start?

As a movie director, he knows that visual continuity is created deliberately- you can't haphazardly throw visual elements together and make it work. It's not ambiguous, the series team did a giant amount of research - the architecture, the characters, the clothing, all of this had to be communicated to the animation team.

Sure, his daughter identifies - because how many brown female characters are there for kids? Does she also identify with random white characters? (Maybe. Look at the implication in mentioning her friends identify as well. All white social circles?) Of course, maybe she's just happy to have A Girl Like Me in her cartoons.

Also, I like the "Well I could have used these other ethnicities, but I didn't" as if the would have, could have actually impacts the final result. Kung Fu the TV series could have had Bruce Lee in it! Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee could have been true to the original story! Wizard of Earthsea could have had brown characters! 21 could have had asians in the story, just like the real life events!

What makes this intent bit completely moot is that basically, at the end of the day, despite it all, he chose white actors. Actors of color don't even get considered in many roles, so it's not like "well we could have" works the other way.

This is someone who very deliberately chooses roles. He's very careful with his visuals. Am I to understand suddenly he became enveloped in a magic fog of color-blindness that overwhelmed his craft and experience as a director? (Was this the same magical force of post-racism that exploded across the nation when Obama took office?)

White supremacy isn't everyone's fantasy. There's nothing ambiguous about white folks getting roles and actors of color not.

Try restoring the balance yourself, before telling movies about it.

ETA: Because it cannot be said enough times: These are the Ghosts of the Heroes I never had.
yeloson: (Default)
2010-02-26 11:51 pm
Entry tags:

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin

(If you're on my flist, you probably already know, but hey, I got this book yesterday, and read it all by today, so that says something...)

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms has two fascinating premises: Enslaved gods being used as the foundation for an empire, and a young woman, Yeine, thrust into a battle for the throne in a nest of hateful political intrigue.

Instead of the typical "Fantasy quest" format, 100K Kingdoms chooses to follow more along the lines of brutal detective fiction - it's all about secrets, betrayals, forbidden affairs and revenge, revenge, revenge. And this is what makes it work - the story stays strong in the characters and the situation, not falling into fantasy element fanboyism. The characters are all multilayered, with interesting motivations, even the secondary characters.

As I read this book, I could only think more and more to the detective genre, especially as Yeine just finds each answer providing more questions, and the pressure being turned up, each step of the way. Yeine's portrayal skillfully manages to stay in the space of an intelligent and determined protagonist, yet inexperienced and under extreme pressure - her mistakes are understandable and human.

Bonus: People of color! Gay characters! In fantasy! And it doesn't have to be "special interest"!

Quibbles: I feel like the Yeine is the only female character who gets fully rounded out. The Goddesses, Scimina, Yeine's mother, all felt like folks I wanted some more scenes or motivations from. (Relad, too, as a male character I wanted another scene or two with).

Overall: I highly recommend it! It's a fun read, has fantastic characters, scary magic, and shady, shady drama.
yeloson: (Default)
2010-02-21 11:47 am

One order of cultural appropriation, hold the people

Dear Giant Robot Magazine,

You once made me excited to read you. You were a great voice for asian am folks, at a time when our choices were Asianavenue, A, or Yolk.

You used to have articles about folks traveling to homelands they didn't know, trying to understand traditions, snarky reviews on asian hot sauces or liquors, interviews with asian american performers, stories about small things we'd only know about and pieces of our bits of history.

Then you started just doing music reviews and interviews with people who created kitschy hipster shit.

For awhile, you kept me going for the occasional interview with a movie celebrity... but all of these folks were asian movie stars- not asian americans.

In many ways, you became the Quinton Taratino shopping guide.

Look, you haven't EVEN had an actual asian person on the cover since Issue 18 - instead, all we get are paintings and shit to collect. Is this really any different than bookstore zen gardens or Trader Joe chow mein?

Now, at the end of the day, you're asking for donations, and I'm trying really damn hard to come up with a reason to help. I mean, right now I've got a lot more incentive to send money to the defunct Bamboo Girl Magazine, since the few issues I have still have so much to give to folks.

Community has a reason to invest in community. But consumers? They owe you nothing- you get left behind like an empty PBR bottle on the lawn after they're done with you.

GR, it was a good run while it lasted, but it's been over for a long time.

Maybe it's time you realized that as well.
yeloson: (Magical Feeling)
2010-01-14 12:22 pm
Entry tags:

Burden of Proof

By way of delux, I'm reading the awesome interview with Nancy Miller on women writers in TV.

I'm just musing on the fact that she still has to address the "no free ticket" and "prove that you're just as good as the boys" arguments and the way in which people don't think about the assumptions in those arguments.

I mean, that you have a group in which your demographic was the first key to entry before we EVEN get to looking at your ability. Wouldn't that be a group of folks who got a "Free Ticket"? In that they didn't have to "prove themselves" against both the 51% of humanity that are women and the other 20% of Americans who happen to be both male and a person of color? (nevermind how much more narrow that gets when we're looking world-wide...)

As usual, whatever the oppressor claims about others, they're probably first in line doing it.
yeloson: (Magical Feeling)
2009-12-17 09:39 am

Your logic does not apply here

Wherein I snark, what all is wrong with the Huffington Post & the Uppity Negros AKA ZOMG OBAMA = TIGER WOODS AND ALL BLACK MEN HAVE FALLEN.

I'll just pull some relevant points:

If both men somehow thought they were untouchable, they have been put to right.

First, who said they were untouchable? I don't recall Tiger giving Cassius Clay speeches (god, I don't know golf, who's an arrogant golfer?) or Obama declaring he was the Decider. Oh, wait, that's right, black men don't get compared to other people doing similar activities- they get compared to an assumed status for black men:

How dare you be successful black men?

And now you're "put to right" for being too successful. Don't try that anymore, you hear?

It is tragic when an icon falls. When a black icon stumbles the tragedy seems doubly problematic. Mike Tyson, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jackson were all at the tops of their fields before revelations that made them less palatable as heroes and less of a role model for young black men.

What the hell do these 3 folks have in common, aside from being black and famous?

You have 1) someone with a violent past even before his boxing 2) someone who "dared" to get AIDS, and 3) someone who was already "getting weird" before the child molestation charges? One shouldn't be a role-model to begin, one should still be a role model (or does AIDs make you untouchable and worthy of stoning? How progressive.) and the third was well on his way out of being anyone's role model with a Neverland and Bubbles the Monkey.

I guess Famous Black Men is enough of a common thread, right? I'll keep that in mind when I talk about white women: Sinead O'Connor, Barbara Bush, and Tonya Harding are clearly in the same category.

The expectations of real change that had people in tears a little over a year have been so thoroughly dashed that too many of his supporters feel betrayed by their naiveté; they feel, as I do, almost foolish for believing that the status quo could really be kicked out the door....

You hear that Obama? We gave you ONE YEAR. ONE (not quite) WHOLE YEAR to fix the problems of Reaganomics, "Iraq The Prequel" Bush Sr., Bill "Trade & Deregulate" Clinton, and "Fuck yo' Constitution" Bush Jr.

How DARE you not have overturned the death grip of big Pharma on the rest of our legislators!

Having worked for weeks and months for Obama, having written glowingly about his oratory skills and his ability to gather even the disenfranchised together, as well as capture that ephemeral youth vote, I stood at rallies and allowed myself that enormous surge of hope that connected me with the rest of the country.

See Obama, You Owe Her Personally. She said Good Things About Black People (TM). Do you not feel her White Woman's Burden? She was merely trying to UPLIFT you and this is how you repay her?

Both men are of mixed race. Yet the majority of the country, including black Americans, sees them as black. That's not a bad thing. Except when such men of intelligence and talent, men who have such influence and power, can't help but succumb to the age old twins of greed and power.

They are mixed. But they are black. And Black people succumbing to greed and power is WORSE than when white people succumb to greed and power. Or something.

Because, pro-golfers are full of power? And presidents' not overturning almost 3 decades of status quo are simply greedy?

Oh wait, here we go:

Woods income is as tied to endorsements as it is to his talent. And Obama is so caught up in party donations and the power that those who donate have, he can't allow himself or his party to do anything to thwart those donations. If Woods had been smart he would have kept his head down, played golf and taken care of his beautiful family instead of publicly destroying them. If Obama had enacted campaign reform as the first order of business real change could well have happened.

Yes, because endorsements cause you to sleep with people! And Good Black People keep their head down and don't have Normal (white) Human Flaws.

And you publicly destroyed your family by putting up sex tapes on Youtube and selling "A Hole In One" Nike Line of products. Oh wait, no you didn't, you kept it a secret until other folks came public with it. Like everyone else who has an affair.

And Obama, HOW DARE YOU put the crashing economy and the health of the American public before raining down reform upon your party and destroying what support you have there.

What the people who worked and voted for Barack Obama wanted to see was a man who would stand up for principle and the ideals he spoke so stunningly of while campaigning. What those who were shocked at Woods' dalliances wanted to believe was that the first black man to be famous for a sport other than basketball or football was really who he appeared he was.

Yes Obama, how dare you work for healthcare reform that you said you wanted to do! Tiger! How dare you represent yourself as a successful professional golfer and not live up to stranger's projected expectations that you be Bagger Vance!

Woods remains an amazing golfer and athlete but his tumble to earth by hubris makes him far more human than god, and the entanglements that his weakness have brought may in fact undermine his game forever.

Yes, because being a successful black man = claiming to be God! You're no Morgan Freeman!

And Obama remains a brilliant thinker, an orator who can rally the masses, a supremely educated man and, by all accounts a dedicated husband and father. But he has been unable to fight the system he said he wanted to fight. He has been unable to effect real, honest-to-goodness change.

That's right, he betrayed you by not overturning the status quo in a year! Lying to the public with your big plans and centrist policies, telling us it's going to take a lot of work and then not doing it all by yourself!

Thank you Lisa Warren for delivering lessons all Black Men should hear:

Don't be successful, be Jesus.

I'm sure Good, Hardworking, Black Peeple will take heed!
yeloson: (Default)
2009-10-29 07:58 pm
Entry tags:

Favorite Character meme

Coopted in solidarity from Ithiliana

1) Post a list of up to 20 books/movies/anime/TV shows/video games/bands [fannish etc.] that you've had an obsessive fannish love or interest in at some time in your life.
2) Have your f-list guess your favourite character/member from each item.
3) When someone guesses correctly, strikethrough the item and put the name of your favorite character next to it.

(It doesn't say comics, so I'll omit comics and stick to anime...)


1. Giant Robo
2. Avatar the Last Airbender Toph (with Iroh close second!)
3. Battlestar Galactica (new one)
4. A Chinese Odyssey
5. The Seven Swords of Mt. Heaven
6. Macross Plus Gould Goa Bowman
7. The Hakkenden
8. The Galaxy Rangers
9. The Mahabharata
10. Neon Genesis Evangelion Rei Ayanami
11. Final Fantasy 7
12. The Dark Crystal
13. Persona 3
14. Final Fight
15. Final Fantasy 10
16. Robotech/Macross
17. The Incredibles
18. Tartovsky's Star Wars Clone Wars cartoons
19. Megaman Legends
20. Naruto
yeloson: (Default)
2009-07-11 09:22 pm
Entry tags:

Ah, wuxia geeking

Managed to rewatch a couple of episodes between cooking and chores. Someone finally put the theme up on Youtube:

yeloson: (Default)
2009-05-28 07:07 am
Entry tags:

Everybody was kung fu fighting

I've already known about Vijay Prashad's book on the Afro-asian connection, but while doing some research this morning for The Emperor's Heart, I discovered a) there's not just chinese people who share a lot of black features, but a longstanding historical population of black folks in China, and b) Kunlun Nu, a 9th century wuxia novel about a black slave who is a taoist master, badass fighter, and possibly immortal.

Also: slavery, magical negro, and helps the couple achieve true love? Uh. I have to wonder what the full social context was back then.

Still, black taoist master.
yeloson: (Default)
2009-05-18 08:20 pm
Entry tags:

Levels of Entitlement

I came home to see the roommate watching some documentary about some surfers who go down to Peru. As I'm cooking dinner, I overhear the narration:

"...They explored the depths of this ancient culture... They took them in, and revealed their magnificent heritage to them... 'We got to see places people don't go to', etc."

Seriously, you can explore the depths of a culture, or be totally taken in and assimilated in a 2 week trip? And of course, who guided you to all these places "people don't go"?

Oh, that's right. Not everyone counts as people.
yeloson: (Say What?)
2009-05-17 09:56 pm
Entry tags:

BSG Season 4, up to episode 6

The homey wanted to do a marathon, so we powered through the first 6 episodes. I'm not really expecting much since the last half of season 3. Although, not as bad, so far the writing has been jumpy, characters have been jumpy about motivations, and the unexplained plot twists are not like, "Oh, it's open ended and mysterious and we'll explain it later" but like, "Oh HAI, this is just how it is" and weird.

Let's see, in 6 episodes:
Number of Crazay Women Syndrome? 3
Random unmotivated sexual contact? 4
Number of Sacrificial Women? 6 (one for every episode! uh...)

The play on Cylon class divisions was fun, and about the only thing I'm super into right now.