Friday, October 29, 2010

Cause It's Not Worth Signing Up To Deal With Idiots

Today's example of "The Micro-Aggressions Of Life" - The Escapist's Extra Credits. Episode: Symbolism.

Despite their recent Diversity Episode, I'm more than a little turned off Extra Credits right now. They've just done their Halloween episode, and given how near the diversity episode just was, I find this shit fucked up and annoyingly predictable.

Yeah yeah yeah, you can only say so much in 6 to 7 minutes. But they CHOOSE the topic AND what they're going to say. And what they said this week was telling.

This week in choosing symbolism, they talk about horror symbolism and 'The Self', 'The Uncanny' and 'The Other' and apparently no one involved thought about the symbolism and unconscious message in the episode's art.

They made/make the choice to be educators, instructors, conversation and discussion starters, to put forward a voice and make an impression. They made the choice to bring up they'll be pointing out issues of diversity and it's complexities in the future. And then what do they do?

"The basic idea is that there are certain fundamental symbols that are deeply ingrained in us at subconscious level."

Really? Ya think?!

My first moment of huh/grr was in their choice of red= fire & blood. That's their idea of a 'universal' symbol. And I felt smacked in the face with the hubris. They didn't say red = life. Oh no. Fire & Blood. It's universal! So I guess me thinking red = life, and red = bridal colour, red = wealth, is just me being.... non universal? Exotic maybe.

But I brushed that aside and kept watching with only mild tension. Because they do say almost every culture uses it as a warning or cautionary colour. So there's wiggle room. Even though I was now dealing with the mental association 'caution - BRIDE AHEAD' and thinking it was kind of EuroColonial.

"But oddly enough we tend to be just as frightened or at least unsettled by things which are similar to us but not completely."

There's no little stick people of colour in this episode, not even when they bring up the concept of 'bigotry'. So when they're talking about 'expectations of the self' and 'things that are just a little bit off', there's no darker than pale-beige image associated with what's right and normal. And then comes the gibbering transient - with a picture of a dark skinned african descended man with locks.

- * -

Aside: Note the phrase voiced with that picture? "Have you ever felt unsettled with a gibbering transient or an amputee?" So at this point I'd also like to point out my wtf at the 'celebrating bigotry in horror' with the image of an amputee and the '...that feeling, is the uncanny'. Dark skinned people and disabled individuals = THE FREAKING UNCANNY.

The 'gibbering transient' image, is the only dark faced image in the piece. This is yet another overwhelming penny on the side of whiteness (and being able bodied) as default for all that is good, pure, normal and true.

Hellooooo Halloween/ Horror Isming! :End Aside
- * -

"...It happens most often with human beings, because we're all hardwired to have a very specific, well established expectation for how a human being is supposed to look and act."

And then there's the comments about the Japanese and Japanese games under the sub-heading THE OTHER. "They are utterly foreign to us as a Western audience".

They do mention a lack of cultural comprehension, touchstones and markers as to why things seem so different. But this is a segment named 'The Other' and it's pretty fucking light on even a passing mention of xenophobia, privilege and willful ignorance as to why the other is other and unusual, foreign and unknown.

In fact, they SAY: "An element of otherness that is in and of itself - unsettling." WITH A PICTURE OF AN ALIEN. Japanese culture is so OTHER as to be associated with NON HUMANS.

And what the fuck was that crack about Japan: - "With enough thought and diligence, Western developers can capture that same unsettling otherness in their own games. Japan just has it a little easier. They don't have to make up anything new to get that affect."

Not having to make it all up new? That little 'other people have culture and history and white people don't' mixed with 'they have this primitive, atavist, lizard brain activating past'.

I realize that Extra Credits and it's creators have nothing to do with activism. But again, they want to start dialogue. And the people who're generally listening, already think things like this:

I do have to analyze the idea of alienation occurring from racial incongruity between the player and protagonist: "What does that say to the Hispanic boy, the Arab teen, the Indian woman, who wants to try just such a game? Will they feel alienated? Disconnected from the experience?"

This idea reinforces the idea that there are inherent differences between races, that the small difference of appearance creates more differences in a chain reaction. This concept is just not true.

The small difference of appearance; as if ethnicity and gender wrapped in social conditioning, white supremacy politics, misogyny, conquest mindset (aka imperialism, colonialism & justification for dehumanizing) - the whole freaking Kyriarchy - along with so much more, is really just the difference on 'white shirt' / 'brown shirt' skin.

Privilege is the ability not to consider just how much you're reinforcing the status quo - which already puts you on top - with 6 minutes of words and images; It's the ability to make 'diversity' a special interest topic. Privilege is the ability to exclude and hurt a large swathe of humanity that is not just like you, while patting yourself on the back about your open mindedness.

ETA: Pics, 1, 2, 3 or it didn't happen. Also my mistake, there is an apparent non-white stick person. A possibly japanese game maker who 'doesn't have to make up anything new'.

ETA: Oct 30. Link fixed. Also typos.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

This just in!

White people are being wrong, ismist and privileged on the internet!

In other news: WATER IS STILL WET! White/Privileged Guilt Is Still Strong.

Clarification: About Wiscon /Sf3 rescinding (far too late, after stirring much bad blood and giving absolutely no details as to why) E.Moon's invitation to be honored at their feminist convention.

Further Clarification: Because now there won't be an opportunity for them (E.Moon's stated Caucasian Good Citizens) to be educated by those who've been insulted and dehumanized.

Seriously Wiscon Coordinators? "We have decided that this can be a learning experience for those of us in the majority, no matter and irregardless of the cost to others."

How many times in life and face to face interpersonal dialogue, does someone punch you in the face or stomach, the crowd around you gasps, and the hosts of the next party who invited the puncher decide that you can come too - and talk in detail about how it felt to get punched in public.

And I add now; And all the other guests then get upset, when the host is badgered and shamed into catching a clue, and tells the attacker they can't attend the party anymore. Because there but for the grace of fate, go they (the other guests) - and if someone isn't making excuses for the puncher, no one might make excuses for them and they might actually face consequences for dehumanizing other individuals.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Three Things Make A Post

1.   Wiscon. Three posts, 'Wiscon I'm Done' and 'On WisCon' and this amazing and to the point Play In 4 Acts by Vito-excalibur (DW).

WisCon was never going to be my thing. And that was further cemented (marble slab) by their original statement, for which I showed scorn here.

But there were people who believed in this convention, who believed it was and could grow and their hurt and disappointment, even though it looks to me like a small child being surprised fire burns, is discomforting to watch.

2.   I came across this blog post discussing 'The BlackBig Box of Lazy Writing' as pertains to the magical something that enables a female protaganist to catch the eye of an appropriate high status male as mate and how that pertains to Sookie of True Love/Southern Vampire Mysteries and doesn't pertain to Buffy The Vampire Slayer (who stands outside the pattern). It's an interesting read and made me think about my own Princess In The City thoughts.
* Yes, I changed Black to Big.
* Also I have no idea what the OP of the linked essay thinks in terms of intersectionality, race, ablism etc. The individual's blogoll seems very feminist. Take that as you will.

3.   I am still mourning my friend. Wishing I could talk to her about all these things. I think that will affect me a while.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I lost a member of my Caribbean Diaspora family today. I lost a friend, a fellow daily-life activist, someone who enriched and informed my life, someone who said I helped enrich and inform theirs. It's been about 12 hours or so since I heard the news. It took a couple hours for me to believe the news was real, and for it all to sink in. And now every time I see another post mourning her passing it hurts all over again and then I feel guilty about not making some official statement, something eloquent or at least coherent - but I'm not sure what to say.

I am glad, however, that since it was her birthday last week, I got the chance to tell her how glad I was she was born, and how much it meant to have her in my life. Too often we don't get the chance to remind people of how much they mean to us, how their presence makes breathing easier, stupidity less stinging and hatred and oppression to feel less overwhelming.

I will miss her jokes, her wisdom, her epic sarcasm. I will miss sharing pictures of the Caribbean and discussions of the representations of our people in 'global/us centric' media. I will miss her art spams - showing me PoC in wonderous fantasy environments as well as simply real life beautiful individuals.

I will miss her.


Anyone interested in memorial donations, please consider the list of charities she wrote up in January for Haiti.