It is my sincere belief that none of you live beneath rocks, and so it seems safe to assume that all of you are aware of the happenings in Ferguson, MO. Just in case you don’t, the civil unrest (not riots) currently going in this St. Louis suburb is receiving nationwide attention. Said civil unrest began in response to the killing of Michael Brown on August 9, 2014. Brown was an unarmed Black teenager with no criminal record, and while the exact circumstances of his death are in dispute, much of the Ferguson community (a community which is now almost seventy percent African American) views it as unjust homicide of a young Black man by a police officer. I’m tempted to agree.
So, my current Web Crush is the hashtag #iftheygunnedmedown, which attempts to confront this respectability politics head-on. Perhaps you remember one of the two pictures of Trayvon Martin that circulated after his February 2012 death. However, the second image is not the Trayvon Martin who was the victim of the 2012 shooting—it’s another boy entirely. Nevertheless, the whole idea of popularizing the second image was to indict Trayvon Martin by making him appear to be someone chasing the thug or gangsta lifestyles. The notion that this makes him guilty or makes his life worth less is obscene, and probably racist.
For the millionth time, representation matters! But unfortunately, we don’t always get to see ourselves quite so directly in human characters for various negative reasons. Maybe diverse characters were taboo at the time, maybe the author didn’t think a varied cast was necessary, or maybe the characters don’t necessarily have a racial or gender identity. But in this case, many tropes are still used to create characters that people of color can identify with.
This is sort of a personal issue for me: growing up, there weren’t a lot of Black characters outside of family sitcoms and token Black teammates. So to have a Black character who was uniquely their own person would have been a monumental thing. However, even though there weren’t very many Black characters I could identify with, there were still several racially ambiguous characters that I often thought of as Black.
So if you haven’t heard, Thor is now a woman and Captain America is Black! In the comics, at least, so these developments are not in the cinematic universe. While bringing these changes to the big screen would be great, seeing these new representations in comic form is very nice. But besides being really cool, these changes are also important and carry some significant weight.
Representation of minority groups is important both from a societal standpoint and a financial one. As the popularity of geeky media grows, more people want to see themselves represented in the preferred media. As evidencedby the outrage at Ubisoft for not including female assassins in their latest game, or the ongoing “facepalming” at DC Comics, it is apparent that representation is important to a vocal part of the audience. Many fans, especially fans who don’t see themselves represented in today’s media, want to see other stories told as well. From either perspective, these are opportunities for more products sold for the companies. It’s a win for everyone involved. This can’t be stressed enough.
Last week, our own Tsunderin gave a nice recap of E3. I don’t need to retread the points she made, but I do want to talk about some of the things Nintendo did right during the week, and why it matters. Also because Splatoon has been one of the first games to bring me a real sense of excitement and I need an excuse to talk about it! Nintendo celebrated colorfulness and fun during their week at E3 and, from what I’ve noticed, the internet hype has risen to a much higher level because of this.
Some time ago, a friend asked me a question: how do you define masculinity? I paused, as this wasn’t something I ever put much thought into, and then responded that I didn’t actually know. The friend then commented that it was dangerous for men of color to try to fit into a white stereotype of what it means to be a man. Essentially, the way media perpetuates these aspects is harmful to the way both men and women view themselves and is especially harmful for men of color. As someone who believes that fiction especially reflects and shapes our society, this obviously gave me a lot to think about. Media is, for better or for worse, often a soapbox or sorts for what authors think our world is or should be. In this way, I feel like the stereotypical idea of masculinity is hurting us all.
So when I looked back on my previous Web Crushes I noticed something that bothered me: with very few exceptions, they were all white people. This wasn’t a conscious decision on my part, which kind of bothered me even more because I didn’t even realize that I was being exclusive in my promotion of online personalities. Since realizing this problem I have made more of an effort to follow content creators of color, one of whom is the brilliant Franchesca Ramsey.
We haven’t spent much time talking about Arrow here. Okay, there was that once, but that was a review of the very first episode, so we’ve definitely got some lost time to make up.
I never really bothered to review the show during its first season because, well, I didn’t think it was much to write home about. Much like my decision to keep buying the Fearless Defenders comic, I tuned in weekly more out of a desire to give a hopeful, just-starting-out superhero show good ratings so that the CW would continue making superhero shows. (I was apparently successful, as they’re planning a Flash spinoff series. Dammit, CW, make a show about a lady superhero, not another white guy.) The writing was sort of terrible, the plots were sort of predictable, and at least half of Oliver’s manpain was based on the fridging of his illicit lady-love. The only character who had consistently decent dialogue for the entire first season was our hero’s go-to hacker Felicity Smoak, a queen among women.
Anyway, I’m glad I gave the so-so first season a shot, because the second season is pretty much kicking it in the ass. Spoilers below the jump.