Hello from a Hollywood Math Geek

Hi there!  I’m a new contributor here at Ars Marginal. My pop culture habits are definitely in the nerd demographic, so you can expect posts from me that explore why Martha Jones is awesome or are recommendations for queer-normative fantasy.  Being a numbers geek, I’m also fond of doing the math on institutional racism / sexism / other -isms in media, which is useful whenever people tell me I’m either making things up or, alternatively, that it doesn’t matter if the straight-white-male narrative dominates. *stabstab*  Yeah.

I also work in Hollywood, and am faced daily with how backward and behind the film industry is.  Popular media might be shaping people’s attitudes in fundamental ways (heck, Racebending’s recent review of Red Dawn pointed out that 28 percent of Americans rarely or never interact with people of Asian heritage, leaving movies their only exposure to Asian-American diversity), but that responsibility never even crosses the minds of the majority of writers / directors / casting staff here in Los Angeles.

Anyway, I thought I’d introduce myself by linking to a few posts I’ve written recently on institutional racism:

Why Is the “Normal Television Family” Always White?

It pisses me off that Hollywood only allows diversity in families that aren’t the two parents, 2.5-kids-and-a-dog, white picket fence American “ideal”:

But, of course, the family who moves into the alien development, the “normal” human family we’re meant to contrast the aliens against, is all white.  Because white is normal.  And human.  It’s the weird alien family who cry tears of green goo out their ears who have people of color among them; diversity is acceptable there.  Why not have had the human family be mixed-race, or Hispanic, or Asian?

An Open Letter to John Scalzi

John Scalzi is a science fiction writer (and current president of the Science Fiction Writers of America) and runs the popular blog Whatever, where he’s made positive posts before on gender and race.  Which meant I was sorely disappointed with his recent Star Trek parody novel Redshirts:

[Y]ou made close copies of exactly the five white men in Star Trek’s main cast—and only them, because for some reason the two crew members you chose to excise were the black woman and the Asian-American man.

How could you possibly think this was okay?

[...]  Mr. Scalzi, I’m sorry to say this, but you did worse than a show that was written in the sixties.

Scalzi stops by in the comments to respond and offer his reasoning for doing it, saying that he was going for a commentary by deleting all the diversity.  I tell him I do not think it worked.

Anyway, this is already longer than I meant an intro post to be, so hi, thanks for having me, and I’m excited to be here!  (And if anyone would like me to put together a post here on anything specific that relates to the math of popular media and/or Hollywood behind-the-scenes, feel free to drop me a comment and let me know!)

8 thoughts on “Hello from a Hollywood Math Geek

  1. Hello there! It’s great to have another contributor here and I’m looking forward to reading your posts, especially from someone behind enemy lines (read: In Hollywood).

  2. Yay more contributors! Good to hear, and I’m always up to hear why the most wonderful Martha Jones should be recognized in her rightful place as the Supreme Companion of All Wibbly Wobbly Time & Space. :D

    Now, as much as I enjoy Matt Smith’s portrayal, I do wish they’d gone with Paterson Joseph as the next Doctor (he was in The Long Game as Roderick, who beat Rose at Weakest Link), as there were rumours they would. Given that Eleven has now stated explicitly that at least one Time Lord crossed genders while regenerating, I can find no remaining vaguely plausible excuse why he can’t be played by a PoC.

    Doctor of Colour now! Now now now!

    • Oooh I want Paterson Joseph soooo badly. I kept those hearing rumors that they were considering him too, and after I’d heard people talking about him I saw him in…..something else, can’t remember what, but he was so Doctor-like with the all-over-the-place energy — I was sold. (And we have other evidence Time Lords cross race in regenerations because River/Melody did! But even if we didn’t, there’s so no reason why not, right? I’m so with you.)

      Hmm, I really will have to do a Martha post. She has the best post-Doctor career out of all of them, too!

      • And then there’s Clyde in the 4th season of The Sarah Jane Chronicles who asked the 11th Doctor if he changes skin colour when he regenerates and the Doctor says yes, so it’s established that we CAN have a Doctor of colour.

        Also, HOORAY for another appreciator of Martha Jones! She’s easily one of my favourite companions, right up there with Donna and Sarah Jane Smith.

    • Haha I’m glad to hear it! It seems she’s very popular around here; I’m feeling right at home. I really will have to do that post!

      Thanks for the welcome!

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