The Road So Far: “Man’s Best Friend with Benefits” Review

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK, IDJIT!

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK, IDJIT!

So, “Man’s Best Friend with Benefits”… Yeah, it wasn’t very good, was it? Worst of all, the internet is abuzz with comments about this particular episode being, well, racist. And is it racist? Well, let’s just say the whole thing could have been done way better. Especially with the portrayal of the relationship between Portia and James. Yeah, it was pretty bad.

But before I talk about any racism or sexism, let me just review the episode in general, because I know that most of you will not read the rest of my review if you get pissed off at what I say about the above issue.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Feminist Disney

jr9fangirls1111It’s always a good day when I get to blog about my fellow feminist ladies. So this week’s Web Crush is the awesome Feminist Disney.

So many feminists over the years have talked about what a problem Disney is for young girls, people of color, and many other minority groups. Disney tends to be a bastion of heteronormative white people fulfilling traditional gender roles. I’m not saying that strides haven’t been made—compare Snow White to Brave and I think we can all agree there’s been progress, even if Disney hasn’t reached their full potential.

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Is Supernatural: Racist?

supernatural2241It’s time, SPN fans, to discuss whether or not Supernatural is racist. Last time we discussed the accusations that SPN was sexist, and while I had some pretty harsh criticisms of the show’s treatment of female characters, I think I was pretty easy on the show. That’s not going to be the case so much this time around.

There are very few characters of color of note in Supernatural. When I say of note I mean either named recurring characters or characters that have become a fan favorite, despite the fact that they were in one episode and then disappeared.

Here are Supernatural‘s Characters of Color: Missouri Moseley, Tamara and Isaac, Cassie, Rufus Turner, Uriel, Raphael, Gordon, Jake Talley, Victor Henricksen, Kevin Tran and Mrs. Tran.

That’s it. That’s pretty much all the characters of color on the show. So let’s talk about these characters.

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Cosplay Questions: Race and Cosplay

It’s been a while since I’ve worked on this series, but I’m back with a vengeance now. Let’s open this can of worms.

There are two major race issues related to cosplay that I’ve noticed: first, the ongoing and loaded discussion of whether Asian or white people cosplay anime characters better, based on how they perceive the race of the anime characters. And secondly, the issue of racebending, or changing the race of the characters in order to cosplay. (This happens both with minority cosplayers dressing as perceived-as-white characters and white cosplayers cosplaying as characters of color.)

The first question is one that brings the covert racism out in a lot of people. Although a majority of anime characters are Japanese or of Japanese descent, their generally large, overexaggerated eyes and non-natural hair colors make a lot of people argue that they don’t look Japanese and that white people cosplay them better. I think this is, frankly, stupid. Most human beings, regardless of race, don’t look like anime characters. Regardless of race, none of us look like CLAMP noodle people, impossibly buff Toriyama characters, or ludicrously booby Gainax women.

The important thing in this case is, rather than judging on a cosplayer’s race, to (if you must judge) judge on the awesomeness of their costume. Perhaps this is just easier for me, as a seamstress and costume creator, but it seems to be the logical way to think about it.

The other race issue that often comes up in cosplay is this: most anime characters are inredibly fair-skinned. Is it right for white characters to cosplay as the few characters with dark skin, and why do some people complain when cosplayers of color dress as perceived-as-white characters? Here’s my take on part one of this sitch (admittedly speaking from a postition of privilege): if cosplaying were a big-budget film (say, The Last Airbender, The Lone Ranger, I could go on) and characters of color were being played by white folks, I’d be livid about whitewashing and racebending and appropriation. But cosplaying is about showing fan appreciation for a particular character. Some people still do this in an offensive way—I don’t condone blackface or any of its variations—but if you’re white and your favorite character is, say, Yoruichi, I’m not gonna bitch you out for cosplaying as her. But white folks then have to extend the same courtesy to cosplayers of color. Don’t walk up to a black Inuyasha and argue with him because Inuyasha isn’t black in the show. Don’t go up to a dark-skinned Ciel Phantomhive and ask them why they didn’t cosplay as Indian prince Soma instead, since a dark-skinned English aristocrat in the 1880s would be unheard of. There are so few options comparatively for black cosplayers that it’s ridiculous and stupid to bitch about them cosplaying as ‘white’ characters. Just, as I said before, live and let cosplay. If you’re going to judge a cosplayer, do it not on the color of their skin but on the strength of their costume and the kindness of their heart.