Sexualized Saturdays: Nonexistent Gender and Sexuality in The Giver

The_Giver_CoverI recently just got done rereading The Giver, and I have to say that this book is one of the scariest stories I have ever read. Although it’s presented as a utopia, The Giver shows us a world under total government control, where people’s individuality has been stripped from them. Using a combination of medicine, technology, and genetic programing, the people of the Community have lost their unique traits. Everyone has the same birthday, ethnicity, so on and so forth. One thing that has also been taken from the people is their gender and sexual identities.

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True Blood Season 2 Part 3

True-Blood-HBO-s-Season-2-PROMO-true-blood-7734359-1024-768The second season of True Blood has left me with a lot of mixed feelings. I really liked the Maryann plot, while loathing the Fellowship subplot. Sam’s character even started to grow on me for a little bit, and I no longer completely detest Jason either. However, my opinion of Eric dropped dramatically this season, and Bill kind of bores me. But my feelings are most torn on Tara’s and Egg’s relationship with Maryann and how she manipulates them.

Once again, there are spoilers ahead.

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Reactions and Responses to Doctor Who and Race

doctor who and raceYou might have come across a recent article in the U.K. tabloid the Daily Mail, which heaps condescension on an anthology called Doctor Who and Race. As it so happens, this is a new anthology about the forms of racial representation encountered in both classic and reboot Doctor Who. I can’t say we’re purely unbiased towards it, as our own Lady Saika was published in this, but it’s certainly a book you ought to read for yourself and develop your own opinions on. It’s sure to be thought-provoking, and as the Daily Mail has attested, it’s already proven itself controversial.

Specifically, the article attempted to make a distinction between what fans think and what academics think, saying:

Fans dismissed [the book’s] criticisms. Sebastian J Brook, editor of Doctor Who Online, said the show ‘embraced rather than divided’. He added: ‘I think the suggestion the show is racist is ridiculous. Doctor treated Martha Jones no differently from the way he treated any other character.’

Which is a load of crock, if you ask me, and I’m assuming you are asking me because you’re reading this post (or maybe you’ve read this one). If there were a Venn diagram of Doctor Who viewers, the circles for fans and academics would definitely overlap. In fact, I would say that no academic writer would ever spend any time writing a peer-reviewed article in an international anthology unless he or she were a fan of the topic. So the idea that “fans” somehow hold a truer appreciation of Doctor Who than “academics” is both inaccurate and misguided. There’s more than one way to appreciate a television program, and all of them are valid.

The anthology isn’t, as it’s been implied, an attack on Doctor Who; in fact, it neither asks nor answers the question “Is Doctor Who racist?” It does, however, address the cultural significance of race as seen through a popular television program, and it does address the connotations of the word racist. As contributor Kate Orman says in the anthology:

“Paradoxically, the intense moral opprobrium attached to calling something “racist” helps to obscure the presence of racism. If racism is anathema, then when a story we cherish contains racially charged elements, we must show that it’s not really racist—and neither are we for loving it.”

DoctorWhoCastTennantIn other words, no one wants something they love to be called “racist”, and calling something racist doesn’t help advance progressive dialogue about touchy issues like race. This book is attempting to analyze the current state of race within Doctor Who in the hopes of better and more accurate representation in the future. It offers a pathway into thinking critically about all aspects of racial representation present in Doctor Who, from casting and characterization choices to a historical perspective on colonialism and slavery. It even has a section which mostly analyzes the Daleks and eugenics—because the way to make the Daleks even more terrifying is definitely by comparing them to Hitler’s Final Solution. If academia’s not your cup of tea, the anthology bookends sections of academic essays with essays which are more informal and blog-like in tone, so it’s easy to escape from the ivory tower and wander round with the mundanes.

If you like Doctor Who and you like thinking about what the program means outside of its little television box, this is the book for you. You can read more about the book here, buy it here if you’re in the U.K., and pre-order it here if you’re in the States.

Web Crush Wednesdays: FeministTaylorSwift

jr9fangirls1111I don’t know about you guys, but I am not a fan of Taylor Swift. I don’t like her music because it always focuses on the most vapid, clichéd high school problems. Seriously, until very recently I actually thought Taylor Swift was only like eighteen and had just graduated from high school. But most of all, I don’t like the messages that Taylor Swift sends with her music. Many of her songs seem to support ideals of submissive, male-dominated women, but my biggest problem is her songs that describe how anything stereotypically feminine is bad.

For example:

She wears high heels,
I wear sneakers.
She’s cheer captain,
And I’m on the bleachers.

Anytime I hear this song I just want to send Taylor Swift a gold star and congratulate her on not being stereotypically feminine. Good for you, Taylor Swift! What a special and unique little snowflake you are!

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Movie Review: 42

42 3Since we frequently talk about minority issues on this blog, I think writing about a Jackie Robinson movie is under our purview.

42 follows Jackie Robinson’s first two seasons in “white” baseball, where he played for Montreal and then the Brooklyn Dodgers. In the movie, he faces racism from all sides. However, his boss, Mr. Rickey, makes Robinson take the high road and not fight back. Robinson is forced to keep his head held high and take every jibe and fastball at his head in stride. This proves hard for Robinson, but once his teammates recognize Robinson as more than just some black guy he gets better at overcoming these obstacles and helps his team win the pennant.

42I watched a bootleg version of this movie, so I’m really not going to go into certain details because I couldn’t get a full grasp of some things. I can tell you what the ceiling of the movie theater looked like, but that’s not why you’re reading.

As something of a history buff, I’m actually surprised that there wasn’t more racism in the movie. There was a lot of racism, don’t get me wrong, but I was shocked that so many white people, especially the higher ups of the Brooklyn Dodgers, didn’t care he was black. Even many of the players weren’t bothered by it. Not that any of the players were really looking to be his BFF, but they weren’t as offended as I would have thought they would have been.

I also have a problem with the portrayal of Mr. Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The movie makes Mr. Rickey out to be a sort of hero, that he could do no wrong and everything in his life came for the love of baseball. When Mr. Rickey hired Jackie Robinson, he said he did it to get more black people to buy tickets. Later in the movie, Mr. Rickey told Robinson the true reason he hired him, and it wasn’t for the money. I would have found the money reason much more realistic of the times than some sort of sob story (that honestly wasn’t all that sob-worthy). While I don’t know the exact history behind the movie, as someone who has seen and read plenty of stories from the late ’40s early ’50s, Mr. Rickey’s portrayal was too holy-roller to be realistic.

In short, 42 was a good movie. I’m not a baseball person by any stretch of the imagination and I still enjoyed it because I’m a history nerd. However, if you don’t like history, baseball, or minority issues, this probably isn’t the movie for you.

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DC’s Essential Graphic Novels Essentially Screws Over Women

(picture via dcwomenkickingass)

(picture via dcwomenkickingass)

DC Comics recently stated that they will be releasing a free essentials guide to their graphic novels. This guide will be sent to fans, comic shops, and libraries. It is also notably lacking in women.

Certain characters have received multi-page spreads in this book. Most of these characters are the ones that you’d expect, such as Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, The Flash, and, weirdly, Green Arrow. Perhaps Green Arrow was given his very own spread because he is currently a popular character due to the TV show Arrow, but Green Arrow has never been a part of the main lineup of DC superheroes.

You know who is, though? Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman, who is an Amazon, member of the Trinity, and one of the main leaders of the Justice League, does not get her own multi-page spread with her fellow superheroes. Neither do any other female superheroes—not even Batwoman, who is one of DC’s top selling female-led comics along with Batgirl and Wonder Woman (source).

So where are the women in this “essential” guide? In a two-page spread called “Women of DC”. The only women featured in this section are Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Batwoman, Catwoman, and Huntress. Yes, the ladies have been screwed over.

(picture via dcwomenkickingass)

(picture via dcwomenkickingass)

Furthermore, no women or men of color are being featured. There’s no sign of Cyborg, Cassandra Cain, Mister Terrific, Static Shock, Katana, or Vixen.

This book says a lot about who DC Comics are trying to promote and sell to. Remember, this guide is going to be used not just by fans but by comic shop owners and libraries to determine what graphic novels they should order. It has often been said by creators and companies alike that ‘for some reason’ the comics which don’t feature white heterosexual male characters don’t do as well. Well, maybe that has less to do with what DC’s readers want and more to do with how they promote their characters. Just a thought, DC.

Ink and Luce Talk About Racial Issues: “Following the Plot”

jackie chan chris tuckerLuce: Welcome back to this edition of Ink and Luce Talk About Racial Issues—can I just say that your username being Ink brings up a lot of issues?

Ink: Right?

Luce: Like, Ink is a black person, of course he is. But let’s get back to Rostad’s video.

Ink: Okay, last post we made a bunch of decisions about the whole piece, except for the last two paragraphs. Frankly, I find them to be the most interesting—they’re not about just Cho Chang, JKR, Harry Potter anymore—now we have this whole issue of what the Asian female-white male relationship looks like. My impression is that there’s this recurring trope of a white male and an Asian female—really, there’s a recurring trope of a white male and every kind of other ethnic female in fiction and popular culture, particularly film, and in a lot of ways that’s because we respond to that much better than the other way around—

Luce: Hold on. You say we respond to it better—but I don’t think that’s the case. I think writers and producers of media think we respond to it better, so that’s what they write. I do think that people would accept, for example, the idea of a protagonist being gay, if only they were given the chance. It’s the same thing with the idea of an Asian male and his white female love interest.

Ink: I think it’s a bit of both actually. First off, let me clarify that when I say “we,” I’m referring to our culture at large—I do believe it’s true that we respond better to a white male and an ethnic female, but let me explain why.

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Ink and Luce Talk About Racial Issues: “To J.K. Rowling, from Cho Chang”

Ink: Hi, my name is Ink, and I’m new here.

Luce: And hi again, I’m Luce! So recently, Saika brought this video to our attention, and as it turns out, we had a lot of thoughts about it.

Ink: We’re both people of color, which we think may give us some perspective on the issues Rachel Rostad brings up in her video. I’m an African-American guy, and Luce is an Asian-American girl. I’m also a researcher in the social sciences, dealing specifically with issues of race.

Luce: And this is us, on vacation in France:

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It’s Asian-American Heritage Month! So how’s it looking out there for Asians on TV?

Hi, I’m Luce (hi luce!) and I’m an Asian-American. May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in America, so it’s a great time to talk about Asians, stereotypes, and representation. Let’s take a look at where Asian characters stand in today’s mainstream television media after the jump.

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