What I want to see

You know what kind of story I want to see?

I want to see stories about a woman of color enacting theatrical, operatic vengeance on anybody who fucks with her or stands in her way. I want a woman of color with such a lust for power that she makes Frank Underwood look like a slacker. I want a women of color who’s such a slippery, duplicitous, self-serving, magnificent bitch that David Xanatos would be impressed.

And I want the narrative to not punish her for it. That’s right. I want her to get away with doing horrible shit in the name of vengeance, ambition, or some other shit we act like we disapprove of but actually enjoy. I want her life to not be some Aesop about how good always wins or some other trite bullshit we know to be a flat-out fucking lie.

I am so tired of women of color, especially Black women, having to be and noble and selfless. I am so done with stories where women of color are not allowed to have grand flaws and epic passions.

If the Bride from Kill Bill can slice and dice her way through Tokyo to get back at five people who did her wrong and still have people root for her and call her an awesome character (without any of the justifications or qualifications that one would have to do with, say, Regina Mills or Marie Laveau), I want women of color to be able to do the exact same type of shit without the story or the audience constantly reminding us of how badwrongevilhorrible she is.

We throw the term “goddess” around so much when it comes to women of color. So let’s give them the same freedom as true goddesses. Let’s allow them to be everything they can be: kind and cruel, beautiful and horrible, wonderful and terrible.

You can’t make this shit up (“Alice in Arabia”)

You ever see something so fucked up that you can’t even get mad?

It’s one of those things that, if somebody told you about it, you wouldn’t believe it unless you saw it yourself. And if you saw it, you’d just stand there staring at it like, “This is so fucked up that I wanna keep it as a specimen for further study. I wanna pin it to a board and dissect it.”

That’s how I feel about Alice in Arabia.

Here’s how ABC described it:

“Alice in Arabia” is a high-stakes drama series about a rebellious American teenage girl who, after tragedy befalls her parents, is unknowingly kidnapped by her extended family, who are Saudi Arabian. Alice finds herself a stranger in a new world but is intrigued by its offerings and people, whom she finds surprisingly diverse in their views on the world and her situation. Now a virtual prisoner in her grandfather’s royal compound, Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil.

(And the English major in me notes the parallel between Alice in Arabia and Alice in Wonderland. That’s right–countries with lots of Brown people in them, especially Arabs, are not real places in the real world with real people in them. No, they are nonsensical realms akin to an alternate universe where cakes turn little girls into giants and people play croquet with fucking flamingos and Johnny Depp can breakdance.)

Get this: this was not satire. This was not a joke. This was not a market survey designed to test the waters for what audiences like and don’t like.

A real live human being–not an alien, not a robot, not a mermaid who recently switched out her fins for legs–decided that this was a good fucking idea. Even more than that, that human being convinced other real live human beings that this was a good fucking idea. And they didn’t even need to make an offer the other people couldn’t refuse!

Pro-tip: If you have an idea for a story about people of color, and it sounds like some shit straight outta The Onion or The Colbert Report, DON’T FUCKING DO IT!

 

Jars of mayonnaise are not characters

One of the most frustrating things about being a person of color critically engaging with film and television is being constantly force fed whiteness as the standard for all humanity.

Aside from the fact that these movies and shows tend to have weak characterization, flimsy motives, shoddy worldbuilding, and cliche plots, there’s the fact that they force me to spend my precious time and brain cells on characters who have zilch going on to make them the least bit compelling and essentially sit there and be white while the story happens around them.

I won’t even bother with examples because this shit is so ubiquitous that I’d have a hard time keeping track. But even good movies and good TV shows are not immune. Even in the best of the best out there, you can probably find that one character that just takes up space and does nothing for the story other than exist, who is important not because of anything they bring to the story, but because you have to keep being told over and over again that they’re important.

In stories like this, you can get the distinct impression that the only reason why anyone should care about these characters at all is because they’re white and they exist. If the people making this shit are going to put so little effort into giving me characters who do more than exist and be white on screen, the least they can do is not insult actors and acting by forcing live human beings to play the equivalent of a jar of mayonnaise. Just cut out the middle man and put a jar of mayonnaise where the actor would normally be. They could save themselves money and the actors some time.

And you know what? This bullshit is really fucking noticeable when the character is a white woman. Because, apparently, “girl” or “woman” or “wife” or “mother” is all the characterization she needs. So it does this weird sort of white supremacist yet patriarchal thing where a woman is only a person insofar as she’s important to a man, but at the same time, her status as prize makes her inherently more valuable to a narrative than any women of color, especially Black women,  in the same story.

Consider Katrina Crane in Fox’s Sleepy Hollow. Look, I fucking love Sleepy Hollow! But if Katia Winter went to another show, and Fox replaced her with a jar of mayonnaise, I’d be hard-pressed to notice. What the hell does she do other than be Ichabod’s motivation, say all kinds of cryptic shit, and fail at being a witch? She only exists to be something that Ichabod strives for. Yet at the same time, when it comes to people arguing against the romantic potential between Ichabod and Abbie, or Abbie Mills being the character people most identify with, Katrina’s name consistently gets invoked.

Give me a motherfucking break.

Don’t show me a jar of mayonnaise and tell me it’s a character. Don’t show me a jar of mayonnaise with a girl’s name and tell me that’s feminist, let alone womanist.

And last but not least: STOP LEAVING ALL THESE FUCKING JARS OF MAYONNAISE ALL OVER THE GODDAMN PLACE!

Solidarity Is For White Fangirls. Only.

Hello everyone and welcome to another video on white privilege and fandom that I all hope you enjoy. This is only a little bit of what happens in fandom but it’s indicative of what happens on an almost daily occasion, especially when it comes to characters who are from a marginal class, such as being a POC, LGBTQ, disabled, or intersect across them all.

For additional reading, here is the link to the wonderful takedown of Michelle Coltee by Melissa Harris Perry that I mention near the beginning of the video:

Michelle Obama A ‘Feminist Nightmare?’ Please.

Good bye, OUAT…

In this video, I explain just why I’m not watching this show anymore… trust me, you won’t either after watching this.

At least I’ll always have the first season.

For those of you who are curious, the Walter White Sliding Scale of Villainy was created by a good friend of mine, and you can read her post about it here.

Read it, it’s good education.

The Last Red Ranger

Have you ever watched The Last Samurai and thought “I’d really like to see this as a TV show, and as Power Rangers”? Well, hiring Tom Cruise would have blown the budget, but Saban’s triumphant return to owning the franchise made that wish come true. If you’re one of those who made that wish, I hate you.

See, he even wears red armour!

See, he even wears red armour!

Now, this isn’t the first time East Asian cultural elements has appeared in the Power Rangers. Unsurprising considering that much of the footage is adapted from Super Sentai, a Japanese series where every year, you have a group of colourful heroes with different theme fighting monsters also with different themes. It’s only to be expected that it’ll have Japanese cultural elements. I did say East Asia up there though, because Dairanger and Gekiranger.

When I was little and I was watching Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, I noticed that the Red Dragon Zord was an East Asian dragon. Then when Tommy returned as the White Ranger and summoned the White Tiger Zord for the first time, and he gets into the cockpit and then it looks cool and stuff. I remembering going “Hey, those are Chinese words!”

Continue reading

I’ve Got A Problem, Episode 2

Hello everyone and welcome to I’ve Got A Problem… with the Legend of Korra!

I usually save this series for content which fails in a most spectacular manner or which enrages me a whole lot, and this is one of them.

And trust me, this fails as well as enrages me, like you would NOT believe.

Hell, I could have made a fucking documentary out of all the failings of this show. And to think, it came from the same people who made the pretty damned good Avatar- The Last Airbender.

10 things women talk about other than fashion, dieting, and relationships

If you thought that the lack of complex, three-dimensional women as protagonists in American film and television was an accident, you’re wrong.

As a matter of fact, one industry pro once said that,”The audience doesn’t want to listen to a bunch of women talking about whatever it is women talk about.”

“Whatever it is women talk about”? You mean stuff like:

  1. Politics
  2. Religion
  3. Art
  4. Sports
  5. Science
  6. Music
  7. Philosophy
  8. Technology
  9. Nature
  10. The average velocity of an unladen swallow

It’s almost like women are people with our own thoughts, feelings, interests, and passions.

Hard to believe, I know.

It matters that the Evil Queen is Latina.

The Evil Queen is Latina, and it matters.

Regina is, in the words of Archie Hopper, “a very complicated woman.” This is someone who loves her Daddy dearly but kills him to cast the Dark Curse. This is a woman who loathes Snow White with the fire of a thousand suns yet loves her son (*cough* and Emma *cough*) so much and so deeply that it’s at times physically painful. And let’s not get started on that shit with Cora.

So much about Regina’s story is so familiar because many of us have been there.

  1. We’ve been abused by those who claim they love us.
  2. We’ve been exploited by those more powerful than us.
  3. We’ve lashed out in fear and anger.
  4. We’ve held on too tightly to those we love and wound up losing them.
  5. We’ve clung to the past because that’s all we had.
  6. We’ve been desperate for a way to end our pain.
  7. We’ve done things we regret.
  8. We wish to love and be loved yet don’t always know how to do so.

These are universal human experiences. All too often, the face of a “universal human experience” defaults to a white face. Yet, this time around, the person embodying these universal human experiences is a woman of color, a Latina.

Whether you approve or disapprove of what she does is not the point. What matters most is: can you identify with this person? Can you relate to what she’s gone through? Does her humanity touch yours?

Do you not see how fucking important that is?

See, it’s easy to admire a woman of color who always has her shit together, who makes the right decision, who is an inexhaustible font of strength, courage, patience, wisdom, and kindness. People eat that shit up. What people have a harder time with are women of color who are merely human, who are not paragons of virtue, whose lives are a mess, and whose choices are not so easy to say, “Right on, sister!” to.

Women of color are rarely allowed to be deep, complex, or multifaceted. Our virtues and vices, rather than reflecting our humanity, serve as evidence in favor of or against it. As Viola Davis said to Tavis Smiley,

“[T]here aren’t enough multifaceted roles for women who look like me. And when I say multifaceted roles, I mean roles where I open up the script, and the character goes on a journey. Right, see, a balance, where I’m not just always dignified, I know everything, I see everything, I’m just this straight-backed Black woman/friend/all-knowing-seeing/whatever. I’m talking about a human being, multifaceted human being who actually lives, breathes, all of that, OK? [...] I’m saying that as an artist you’ve gotta see the mess. That’s what we do. What we do as artists is we get a human being, and it’s like putting together a puzzle. And this puzzle, it’s gotta be a mixture, a multifaceted mixture of human emotions, and not all of it is gonna be pretty. We’re not gonna win, we’re not gonna be heroes, y’know, OK?”

That’s why it fucking matters.

And now you know why representation is so shitty

And over at Autostraddle, they show what we’ve known all along: television writing staffs remain overwhelmingly white and male.

http://www.autostraddle.com/television-writing-staffs-are-still-overwhelmingly-white-and-male-to-no-ones-surprise-170682/

Could this be why representation for everyone who is NOT a straight white dude is so fucking abysmal?

(Note that the study does not account for women of color.)