Representation Requires Characterization: Why Your Black Leader Is Not Revolutionary

Sometimes talking about diversity in media seems like a really bad game of “spot the minority.” Countless TV shows and movies have had just one visible person of color in their casts, if at all, and we’ve currently reached the point where a number of movies have one white woman and one Black man and are content to call that “diversity.” Whatever little progress we’ve made, it’s become clear that even if we include people of color in our stories, we’re still not dedicating ourselves to telling their stories.

If there’s a token minority in a story, it used to be that they were the villain or helpful sidekick; nowadays it’s more likely that they are the leaders of the group. At first glance, that sounds like a good thing—showing that people of color can be competent in places of authority can only be good, right? Maybe so, but we inevitably see a large number of Black leaders, not Asian or Middle Eastern or Latinx leaders, and, again inevitably, these Black leaders are often the only Black characters or characters of color in the story at all. This phenomenon ties into a number of tropes and poor writing choices that highlight the insidious problem of having your single solitary Black man or woman be the boss or leader for your ultimately white protagonists.

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Definitely an example here.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Fathers Raise Sons, but Only Protect Daughters

liam neeson takenFathers have a long and storied history in our media. Unlike mothers, who are only sometimes around in our hero’s stories, fathers are usually the rock of the family and play a large part in our protagonist’s character development. At least, that’s true if the protagonist is a guy. If the protagonist is a girl, however, fathers exist more often to protect their daughters than to raise them, giving rise to omnipresent tropes like the Overprotective Dad and the Papa Wolf. As Taken’s Liam Neeson says, if you hurt his daughter, he will look for you, find you, and kill you.

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Fanfiction Fridays: Brand New Empire by pyrodynamo

“The press storm’s just about as bad as I’d imagined,” Herc said, when he visited. “You’d think they’d at least wait till the both of you are out of medical.”

“They’re asking us to consider ambassadorship to the reconstruction project,” Mako said. For someone who’d handled hours of interviews she was holding up extremely well; most of the time Raleigh just tried to stay both vertical and conscious.

“I got the same offer,” Herc said.

Raleigh looked up. “Are you taking it up?”

“I’m thinking about it,” Herc leaned back a little more in his chair. “It’d do a lot of good, I think, and especially since—”

Herc stopped. Some days Raleigh felt like he was looking in a mirror again, when grief sat in his gut like a solid thing, when it roosted under his ribs and clawed through his throat when he tried to breathe. He saw it in Mako’s eyes in odd hours, woke up to the sound of her stuttered gasps and remembered.

“You don’t have to talk about it,” Raleigh said.

Herc breathed out hard, and shook his head. “This is exactly what I mean. It’s good to keep busy now, and— if I’m in the rebuilding I want to get up to my elbows in it. I wanna see some good.”

Raleigh glanced at Mako. He’d pushed his bed close enough that their knees would touch if they sat face to face on the sides, the way they did sometimes at night. It was a little strange knowing that in a few more weeks they’d never see the walls inside the Shatterdome again.

“We could do a lot of good,” Mako said.

Pacific Rim is one of those movies that might be a little cheesy, but the cheesiness factor doesn’t detract from how good the characters are. There’s a prequel comic and there will be a sequel at some point down the road, but the comic largely covers how the Jaeger program started and there aren’t too many details about the sequel yet. Because Pacific Rim was the movie that came up with the concept of Drift partners, what I’d really like to see is more stories that focuses on the characters and their relationships. And fortunately, a lot of fanfic does focus on just that. Enter today’s fanfic rec: Brand New Empire.

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Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon): 2014 Edition

This Valentine’s Day, as all Valentine’s Days, will not succeed in bringing our city down. This Valentine’s Day, as all Valentine’s Days, will soon recede into painful memory, fading with time, until another foul Valentine’s Day is upon us again.

Welcome to Night Vale, “Valentine”

It’s that time of year again, nerd friends. That awful time of year known as Valentine’s Day. Once a year, before Valentine’s Day, our authors nominate and then vote on ships for our Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon) list. It is during this time that the LGG&F writers go from peaceful coexistence straight into full-blown anarchy as each writer battles for their favorite ships to make the list.

tumblr_static_i_need_my_ship__it_s_all_i_ve_got__literally_the_only_thing_i_haveSo now, blood-stained and bruised, it is my job as Supreme Overlord of LGG&F to bring you this year’s Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom.

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Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero Gets Nine Out of Ten

So, last fall, I went to see Pacific Rim. Several times, in fact. My continued fannish ranting about the film was probably what led Saika to buy me the Pacific Rim prequel comic for my birthday. I knew the comic was written by Travis Beacham, the co-writer of the Pacific Rim screenplay, so whatever was in the comic could practically be considered canon. I was beyond excited.

My reaction to my present

My reaction to my present.

Spoilers for both Pacific Rim and Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero after the jump.

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Fanfiction Fridays: non-definitive acts by lymricks

So I really enjoyed Pacific Rim. It was a delightfully diverse film with a fun and intelligent plot, but as these things tend to, it was missing one thing: canonically queer people. So as usual, when I got home, it was time to hit up Archive of Our Own to fill that void with fanfiction.

As two super-intelligent white dudes who bicker constantly and sassily but are still in sync enough to be Drift compatible, Drs. Newt Geiszler and Hermann Gottlieb were pretty much predestined to be the popular slash ship in this fandom. (Pacific Rim‘s Ao3 section confirms this, with almost 20% of the fics featuring this pairing.)

I do love the dynamic these two have, so I gladly took what the internet offered me, and in the end I found this story. non-definitive acts picks up a few months after the events of the movie, and deals specifically with the ongoing psychological issues Newt and Hermann have to deal with as a result of their mid-movie Drift with a dying baby kaiju.

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The Mako Mori Test—A Good Alternative to Bechdel?

Hopefully you’ve all heard of the Bechdel test. For years it’s stood as shorthand for indicating that a movie does a decent job in representing both women and female relationships. If one said that a movie passed the Bechdel test, it meant that that movie: 1) had two named female characters who 2) talk to each other about 3) something other than a man.

But now, in the wake of Pacific Rim‘s enormous online success, there have been calls for a Pacific Rim-inspired feminist test to join the Bechdel test. The Mako Mori test, as defined by Tumblr user chaila, states:

The Mako Mori test is passed if the movie has: a) at least one female character; b) who gets her own narrative arc; c) that is not about supporting a man’s story. I think this is about as indicative of “feminism” (that is, minimally indicative, a pretty low bar) as the Bechdel test. It is a pretty basic test for the representation of women, as is the Bechdel test. It does not make a movie automatically feminist.

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Pacific Rim, Shut Up and Take My Money

Thursday night we hit the drive-in to celebrate my roommate’s birthday, grabbing a double-feature of Pacific Rim and Man of Steel. I’d already seen the latter, but it wasn’t exactly a hardship to watch it a second time. Mostly I was just really, really excited to see Pacific Rim, which I’ve been looking forward to for months.

As you might know, Pacific Rim is that rarest of creatures: a science fiction film not based on any existing source material, written and directed by a person of color and starring several actors of color in its main roles. It looked to be a smart, exciting, kaiju-smashing epic, which was really just an added bonus, because I’d have paid good money just to watch Idris Elba dramatically read a phone book.

Thankfully, and unsurprisingly, it was just as good as I hoped it would be.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Pacific Rim

Okay, so here are five quick and easy reasons why you should see this movie.

  1. This movie has kaiju. Don’t know what kaiju are? Think Godzilla. Mothra. King Ghidorah. Giant multidimensional mutated sea beasts—this movie has them.
  2. This movie has giant robots. Giant robots are also awesome. Here is the big budget, live-action, Hollywood-produced Gundam movie you never thought you’d see in real life.
  3. The kaiju will be fighting the giant robots. I cannot stress this enough: this is a movie about giant multidimensional sea beasts fighting human-piloted giant fucking mechs. And it actually looks like it’s going to be really good.
  4. elbaI have nothing against Tom Cruise in theory, but he’s been in a lot of freaking action movies. I am hella excited to instead see a nonwhite person getting a chance to play a leading character in an action film, and I am seriously in love with Idris Elba, so I am totally on board with this choice. The cast outside of Elba is also pretty awesome, including among others Ron Perlman (Hellboy in Hellboy) and Burn Gorman (Owen in Torchwood), and it’s directed/partly written by Guillermo del Toro of Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy movies among others, so that’s gonna be awesome.
  5. This movie is not a remake, prequel, sequel, adaptation, or gritty reboot of any existing work. It is a bona-fide original sci-fi movie. And what a breath of fresh air that is.

This movie comes out summer of this year. There are my five reasons for being excited. What do you think? I think it’s going to be kickass.