When used well, allegory is a powerful tool for satire and critique. It can make complex subjects easier to understand, or foreign concepts more relatable. Of course, when used poorly, you end up with mixed messages and weak positions. Worse yet, bad allegory can send the entirely wrong message, and creators should know how to avoid that minefield.
Black History Month of 2016 was a hell of a ride. I can’t think of a good way to possibly wrap it up, because honestly, I don’t want to. So, I figure a transition of sorts is in order. In that respect, I’d like to talk about PoC solidarity and the general benefit of diverse casts.
This concept is very important to me as we all have to struggle with privilege, and lack thereof, in various avenues. Unfortunately, people are inclined to look out for themselves and people who look like them. I cannot be upset by that, or even discourage it. However, it is ultimately destructive when groups choose to tear each other down in the interest of self-propulsion. It’s quite painful that when discussing #BlackLivesMatter, some of the opposition will come from other people of color who face similar levels of discrimination. Speaking from experience, I know that there is anti-Black racism coming from more than just white people. But it doesn’t have to be this way! As always, I feel that our favorite forms of media are a good case study on this and the actual act of solidarity.
Okay, I’m just going to come out and say it: I’m sick of white gods and religiously-themed stories about white people. I really am. At this point I’m willing to give points to movies, even bad ones, for featuring people of color as gods or at least the main characters in a spiritual movie, because this is starting to get ridiculous. No, scratch that—it has always been ridiculous, but I feel like we should know better at this point.
For those of you who have not heard, there’s a movie coming out called Gods of Egypt. It features an all-white cast with the exception of one Black character. Yep, a whole movie about Egyptian gods—but the gods are played by white people.
There is so much wrong with all of this—not just from a representation standpoint, but from a theological one as well.
With February ending, Black History Month is also coming to an end. But March brings us Women’s History Month! Like a broken record, I’ll say, representation matters. (The changing of these months, though, should remind us to keep intersectionality in mind as well.) This repeated mantra may feel a bit stale without a solution to the question: how can we get better representation in our games and media? One answer would be to diversify the creative forces. Today, I want to talk about some of the efforts to improve this deficiency.
I am at my happiest at a convention—anime cons, comic cons; just give me a venue where I can be in costume and fraternize with nerds all weekend and I will be happy. However, I have it pretty good. I have enough of a disposable income to afford the costs of travel, hotel, registration, and cosplay. Plus, I’ve got the privilege bonus that no one questions my involvement in fandom based on my skin color.
Fans of color tend to be less well-represented at conventions, and that’s where the wonderful organization Con or Bust comes in.
Con or Bust is:
a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction. Con or Bust isn’t a scholarship and isn’t limited by geography, type of con-goer, or con; its goal is simply to help fans of color go to SFF cons and be their own awesome selves.
When the first Star Trek reboot film came out, I remember hearing a lot of Star Trek fans complaining about the lack of diversity in it. Not necessarily in the main cast—that can boast being at least a little racially diverse—but about the side characters. I remember watching the movie, looking at the cadets and numerous Starfleet officers, and thinking, “That’s a lot of white people”. Especially for a society that has supposedly achieved peace and equality. That’s what I was thinking, and that’s what I thought my fellow Trekkies were saying. However, eventually I discovered when they were saying racial diversity, they meant alien races. “Why are there so many humans and so few aliens in Starfleet,” seemed to be the question on everyone’s mind.
While for a Star Trek movie that may be a valid question, I was a little shocked that anyone would equate that with racial diversity in a movie. Sadly, however, that wouldn’t be the last I would hear of people of color being placed in the same category as fictional races.
Yes, I know this movie just came out recently, but I haven’t seen it yet, and it only came out a couple days so I think I’m still within my blogger rights to review the trailer.
It’s summer time and Will Smith is in an action movie. That seemed to be the norm for a long time, but now that I think about it, I haven’t seen Will Smith in many movies lately, or at least many action ones. But this time it seems like the burden of providing most of the action actually is on Will Smith’s son, Jaden Smith. In After Earth, Will and Jaden play a father and son team that crash lands on… Earth? So apparently one thousand years ago humanity left Earth for… reasons, but now Will Smith and his son have crash landed there, and they need to retrieve some sort of beacon in order to get home. But there’s a twist: everything on Earth has evolved to kill humans now. Again because of reasons… reasons that I assume will be connected with some surprise twist ending about why humans left the planet in the first place. Maybe the plants killed people? No, wait, it’s all actually Jaden Smith’s dream, or it’s faeries, or normal people dressing in yellow robes to scare everyone and hide the fact they live in modern times. Or maybe the twist is that it’s set in a world where Avatar: The Last Airbender didn’t suck.
As you may have guessed from my thinly veiled sarcasm, this movie is directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Which leaves me in something of a conundrum when it comes to whether or not I should see this movie. You see, almost all Will Smith movies are good. That is just fact. Even if it’s not good in the sense that it has a good plot, it’s always at least entertaining and enjoyable to watch. But M. Night Shyamalan has, in recent years, been a terrible director, but his early movies were so good I think I just want to always given him a chance to redeem himself. The movie looks exciting. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, the movie stars two characters of color, which is something movies don’t often do, especially sci-fi movies. That alone might be the reason I see this movie, even if the plot seems to set itself up with one too many twist endings.
We’ll have to wait and see if this will be an exciting movie or another M. Night Shyamalan failure at making a comeback.