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.
There’s this idea (where it started, who knows) that there are comedies for different groups of people. With Bridesmaids, we had a comedy for women. With everything that is Tyler Perry, we have comedies for African Americans. We nerds dominate the internet with webcomics such as xkcd and web comedies such as The Guild. Are any of these niche comedies funny to peoples outside of their intended audience, or are those comedies simply not funny to other people? And who’s the audience for all those seemingly more generic comedies?
This past Saturday, July 13, George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin.
I’m certain that everyone reading this has been inundated with news about the incident, the alleged self-defense killing of a 17-year-old Florida native on February 26, 2012. Trayvon died of a single gunshot wound fired at intermediate range. I’d rather not discuss the details of the case at length, you can find them all over the internet, including the Wikipedia page.
The media explosion that followed Martin’s death guaranteed that race relations in America would be on the tip of everyone’s tongue for the whole past year. Zimmerman, who is of German and Peruvian ancestry and identifies as Hispanic, became wholly white for all media intents and purposes. I believe that this occurred because the other party to the incident was black. Conversations (I should say arguments) turned to what would happen if the races were reversed. Some would argue that had a black man shot a white teenager, he would have been charged and convicted with relative ease, and some would argue that there would have been no case and no media circus. I, personally, can believe that maybe there would have been less media involvement, but I refuse to accept that a black man killing a white teenager in Sanford, Florida would have walked free with ease. But there’s a lesson here: race is constructed relationally. I do believe that had the teenager been white, Zimmerman would not have been cast as a white man. I believe that his Hispanic heritage would have been much more relevant.
That’s not the only thing we learned from this awful year. I, for one, learned how profoundly unkind people could be toward someone who was probably facing the second-hardest moments of her life. Many commentators attacked Rachel Jeantel for her size, her skin color, and her manner of speaking, none of which had anything to do with the matter at hand. She stood up and spoke for her deceased friend, and she deserved better treatment than she received if only because of what seemed a genuine effort to do right by the deceased.
I want to mention briefly, on the subject of unkindness, that the social media reaction to Rachel Jeantel, Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, and the case itself has been some of the ugliest I have ever seen. The mish-mash of privilege, hate, fear, condescension, and racism left me trying to decide whether to cry or vomit. I won’t link to them here; it seems disrespectful.
Disrespectful because whatever Trayvon Martin is to America, whether he’s just another black homicide victim, or one of the latest in a long list of racist homicides, he was someone’s child. To his father, Tracy Martin, he was a “best friend” and represented “the greatest gift God can give to a man.” His mother literally cannot bring herself to visit his grave. There are family members and friends who are beside themselves with grief, and have been for the past year. You see, in all the anger, all the politics, it’s easy to forget the individual, the bright promising young man who got in trouble, who smoked marijuana and fought in school, who wore a hoodie and was out later than good sense said a young black man should be out on the street. Who was creative and got good grades. Who was loved.
As a young black man who used to wear hoodies, who fought in school, who is often out late at night, Trayvon’s death was frightening. Not because George Zimmerman was a homicidal racist predator or anything like that, but because I understand that for many I am an object of fear. I live in a mostly white neighborhood and wear clothing that is, to some, the “uniform of crime.” I have not, historically, backed down from every fight I should have, and I am aware that to many I am an object of fear. And that puts me at risk. What I’m saying is don’t forget that the political is always personal, too.
A young man is dead. One who was the light of the world for Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, and so on behalf of everyone here at Lady Geek Girl and Friends, I’d like to offer our condolences. To them, especially, but to all his family and friends, and anyone else hurt deeply by his death. We can’t begin to understand your pain, but we feel for you.
I’ll leave you with this, from Let’s Be Friends Again:
You know what really grinds my gears? When people go to see a musical, and then complain because a POC is playing their fave and that’s just not realistic. Like seriously, guys, there are chimney sweeps dancing on rooftops and people singing their deepest feelings in front of crowds, but a character of color is unrealistic in a part? Continue reading
How often do you see minority characters in fiction? They’re pretty rare. When you read fiction, unfortunately you normally see a white protagonist alongside a plethora of supporting white characters. Possibly a minority sidekick, if you’re lucky. Minorities of both sexual orientation or race are underrepresented in teen and young adult fiction, according to this YALSA study.
But why is it so necessary for authors to write characters that accurately represent our world? It all boils down to facts—namely, the fact that races other than Caucasian exist in the real world, and when there is a fantasy world in which no minority characters exist, it’s basically telling minority characters that they aren’t good enough to exist even in a fantasy world. If elves and hobbits and dragons and dwarves can all wander around Middle Earth, there shouldn’t be anything terribly far-fetched about a few characters of color in the mix as well.
Because it wasn’t that exciting.
So I have a vested interest in minority representation in Doctor Who. Anyone who’s read my S7 episode reviews knows that I’m annoyed at the lack of realistic LGBTQ characters. But I’m also concerned with the overwhelming whiteness of the show. I even have an essay being published in the Doctor Who and Race anthology about the lack of Asian characters in Doctor Who. (It’s coming out next year for anyone who’s interested.) We’ve been going through the editorial process pretty constantly over the past few months, and so the issue is even more at the forefront of my mind then it usually is.
So what was it about “TATM” that made history? Well, Doctor Who has a history of avoiding Asian locations, characters, and storylines. The only time in new Who that we’ve seen a character in Asia is when the entire Chinese army becomes the Master in “The End of Time”. “The Angels Take Manhattan” marks the first time where the Doctor is shown in China doing things.
Well, first of all, it wasn’t a part of the storyline but rather a stopping point so that the Doctor could drop a note to River on a Qin dynasty vase. It was actually so brief that I couldn’t find an image of it on Google—I had to screencap this myself.
Second of all, the characters are not agents, they’re objects. They exist in the show so the Doctor can pop in and manipulate things as he sees fit and leave. You could switch out the vase from China with an artifact from any other culture and nothing about that scene would have changed. It’s not like they played an important role.
This is just another fail in a long line of fail on Moffat’s part this season. Here, have a cissexist joke about a trans* horse! Trans* inclusion! Amy’s a bridesmaid in an off-screen gay wedding mentioned in a throwaway line! Queer inclusion! Ancient China is onscreen for less than a minute! POC inclusion!
This is not okay, Doctor Who. This is not real diversity. Step up and do something that actually makes a difference.
So I saw The Amazing Spider-Man at midnight (and I’m exhausted writing this so forgive any egregious spelling/grammar errors). Let me tell you my feels! I am going to try to keep this short; no promises.
First of all, I quite enjoyed this movie. It suffered solely in my personal estimation because I just saw The Avengers for the eleventh (yes, quite literally) time last Friday, and this movie is no Avengers. But it’s really good! Quick disclaimer: I am a newb to comics and know nothing about the Spider-canon.
Let’s do a bulleted list, Lady Bacula style. Things I liked:
- Peter was really the definition of adorkable. Cute, but stumbling enough socially to make it clear that this wasn’t just some misunderstood Gary Stu. This is an actual awkward kid who sometimes can barely string a sentence together in front of people. (It made for a neat, psychologically unpackable dichotomy with Spider-Man; he’s wisecracking and funny as hell once he gets behind the mask.)
- Gwen Stacy. Oh, Gwen. Disregarding my epic girlcrush on Emma Stone, Gwen is a great character. She is a scientist! She is good at math and biology and just as smart as (smarter than, actually) Peter! Without her Peter literally would not have been able to save the day! Yay Gwen! Guess who does more than just scream, get saved, and make out with Spider-Man? Gwen! Eat your heart out,
Kirsten DunstMary Jane Watson!
- The movie was full of cool (fake) science! I love science! I wish I was good at it, but watching actors pretend to be people who are good at (fake) science is the next best thing!
- The stereotypical high school bully was a relatively three-dimensional character who grew over the course of the movie! What?! That’s unheard of in high school movies! It made me happy.
- It did a great job distancing itself from the Tobey Maguire trilogy, in plot, character design, and even the overall feel of the movie.
- Stan Lee’s cameo. Omigosh, lumpin’ hilarious.
- Dr. Connors is Xenophilius Lovegood! Mind blown!
- The character development was really solid to me. As a crotchety old twenty-two-year-old, though, I have to say that it’s hard for me to imagine any seventeen-year-old kid I currently know acting as grown-up as the kids in this movie.
Things I didn’t like:
- Sometimes Peter was almost too awkward, like I was wondering if he had a speech disorder because he literally could not string words into a sentence at all. Andrew Garfield also had a lot of sort of weird mannerisms that seemed a bit overdone.
- The one major POC character was the sinister, amoral, and demanding lackey of Norman Osborn (who we never see), is a bully and a coward, and might have died mid-movie? I’m not sure if he died or if he just got close to death by Lizard. The rest of the movie was super-duper whitebread.
- The credits cutscene (full disclosure: if there was more than one I only saw the first; I booked it out of there because I had to go to the bathroom so I apologize if I missed one) was just confusing. I’mma try to stop comparing this to The Avengers, but with that, if you knew who Thanos was you were excited, and if you didn’t you Googled “Who’s the big pink guy in the Avengers credits” and found out and got excited. This cutscene was trying too hard to be intriguing for the next movie.
- It had a guy in it who talked like the Joker and had a fedora, and he apparently is a telepath because he was talking into Dr. Connors head the whole time (when I thought it was just Connors’ inner Lizard having a Jekyll/Hyde argument with him for the duration of the actual movie). I’ll gladly see the next one, but it won’t be because the Peter’s-missing-father storyline has drawn me in with its intrigue and mysteriousness.
- The moral of the story was, if I’m not mistaken, “Don’t act as a father figure to Peter Parker or you’ll die.” (That was the moral, right?)
That’s all for now! Go see it and tell me what you think!