Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From Fantasy to GrimDark ApocaFuture

The reviews are coming in. You can find them via Twitter #Airbender or Trending Topic; The Last Airbender or boolean searching for; reviews + 'The Last Airbender'. I suggest taking the easy way out and just following Racebending @Twitter, who're linking as much as they can.

I am not surprised the movie is so horrible. Or rather, the last bits of surprise I had at how horrible the movie was going to be were blown away by the video script leaks I linked in a post a little while back.

I'm taking the time and effort to write about M.Night.S' (I do not approve of mockery of the man's name) interpretation in The Last Airbender, because I noticed a trend in the few professional critic reviews I saw.

These reviews seem to share a belief that the environment of THE LAST AIRBENDER happens in a future, dark and dismal version of our Earth. And I can't help wondering what is it about what M.Night.S has done, that reviewers aren't thinking of this world as its own fantasy setting, but instead as some kind of Vampire Hunter D, post-apocalyptic, society now has beings with unique 'mutant' powers, possible future.

Roger Ebert even mentions Steampunk, and the opportunity missed to play with that element and yet he also seems to think this is all about some distant future.

To me, a story about 'in some distant future a messiah figure will come' - is very different from 'in a world in need of heroes...' where there are fantasical creatures like the flying bison and flying lemurs etc...

It's very telling to me that reviewers are apparently not seeing fantasy in the tone of the film, no matter what actually happens in the film and instead align the story with scifi - grim, gritty, dark, humanity is scrounging to make a place scifi at that - dark future scifi.

I mean, imagine if critics walked out of the LOTR movies, thinking Gondor was the possible future of man, and, that NĂºmenor was simply code for our present day (perhaps even specifically the continent of America). How much would it change things for viewers to walk out thinking Mordor was a dark and dismal place as the result of nuclear war instead of decades and more of evil and evil sorcery?

The casting was fail and horrid, the script and dialogue is apparently full of fail and is horrid, the 3D doesn't do a lick damn thing and the direction is apparently leaning towards promoting stiff and blank acting. And yet, I keep remembering this:

iF MAGAZINE: How does this compare to the STAR WARS trilogy?

SHYAMALAN: Wow, this is hard to compare it to STAR WARS. STAR WARS is true religion to me. I can understand what people who are into religion feel when I think about STAR WARS, but if I can make a comparison, it is with the notion of “journey” both trilogies have. THE LAST AIRBENDER is truly the journey of this young maverick boy, Aaang. His journey is similar to the one of Luke Skywalker.

I repeat; M.Night S thought Avatar: The Last Airbender was going to be his Star Wars. Again, that's Star Wars. Sure he mentioned LOTR once or twice, but he also mentioned 'The Matrix' and more often mentioned STAR WARS.

Any A:TLAB (animated series) fan will tell you, bending is NOT the Force.

ETA: I am an A:TLAB fan. And I'm going back to dreaming about a remake.

Monday, June 21, 2010

On FWD, Juneteenth & Scapegoats

Many times when I comment to FWD (Feminists With Disabilities), I observe that I'm often the only one bringing up the racial implications compounding whatever ablist vs disability discussion is going on. I generally take this in stride with a sigh and a roll of my eyes, especially when someone jumps up to thank me for bringing more depth to the conversation.

On June 19th, Feminists With Disabilities hosted a Celebration of Helen Keller. June 19th, however, is Juneteenth; Emancipation Day. And someone called out FWD about not mentioning Juneteenth, which is a North American (continental) holiday and has begun to spread further since the 1980's.

And then, there was fail. And to my mind, the fail was NOT unexpected. The moderators of FWD appear (and there has been some statement to this fact) to have wanted to wait for the person whose idea HK's celebration was - Anna. But in doing so, they gave every appearance, of shoving an upset and angry and feeling marginalized Disabled Woman of Colour - into a corner for the 'right' person to deal with.

They did not reply to Rene of Womanist Musings to tell her they wanted to leave what to do next up to Anna. They did not reply to her emails. They made no sign whatsoever until Rene was left feeling she was shouting at a wall that was trying to smother her.

Meanwhile other people's comments were apparently getting through and being published and there was no sign as to whether if you comment at FWD enough times your comments go through automatically or if mods were actually keeping Rene's comments at bay until "Someone could come deal with them and the whole situation."

If someone had done that to a white woman with a disability - given the appearance that the 'right' and 'more tolerant' person needed to come and handle the hysterical 'cripple' woman - FWD's moderators and many of their commenters would have been beyond incensed.

If someone had given the impression that it was just too draining for them to deal with an angry woman with a disability - so they'd wait for the person who had the strength to do so; FWD's moderators and many of their commenters would have been enraged at the ablism and sexism.

What happened on June 19th on FWD, is not an isolated incident. It's an example of well meaning progressivism running around in a panic and not thinking because of that panic. And if that's not what happened, then what did? Because I find it hard to believe the FWD moderators did not foresee complications in comments and the need for a mod to handle it. Is that not why they have multiple mods with multiple duties and responsibilities?

The worse thing to happen though, is comments were shut down. Discussion was shut down. There was no 'We the mods have observed ad honemim attacks and they will not be getting through' and there was no 'We will be opening a separate post to deal with this issue'. It was just:

Hi Renee, I had chosen not to publish the rest of your comments yesterday as I did think your main concern was in the first one, and that publishing your other comments would detract from your concern. I will publish them all now.

I believe that conversations that take place at the speed-of-internet are rarely productive. There is an implicit demand that people react immediately, instead of taking careful, thoughful, and respectful action.

In light of that, I am closing comments here. I do not think that this conversation here will prove to be productive for any of the parties involved.

I am sorry that my actions and behaviour have caused this conversation to be necessary.

...instead of taking careful, thoughful, and respectful action...

...instead of taking careful, thoughful, and respectful action...

...instead of taking careful, thoughful, and respectful action...

I am so disappointed that it was Anna who made this statement. That it is her name up against this silencing. That it is her statement discussing thoughtful and respectful action, that closes comments in a non thoughtful and non respectful way.

And I am even MORE angry and disappointed that the other moderators of FWD, from the very beginning, have pushed her into taking the fall. That it is her name beside a statement that someone else, someone currently holding power, gets to decide what part of a marginalized person's comments and anger is relevant to the conversation about erasure.

To call this misstep after misstep after misstep is to be extremely generous in my view. FWD's moderators saw the word racist and ran; ran from having to self evaluate, ran from anger, ran from the ghost pains of white guilt.

Everything they'd done comes across as them wanting it all just to go away. I find myself thinking that they have had several unique experiences this year, where they should know better - because they didn't shut up. But at least this post will hardly be a surprise, because Anna knows I rarely keep my big mouth shut.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

1- Looking For A Path


I currently have a tremendous stomach ache from attempting this experiment in journaling out my frustrations and current difficulty writing fiction.

So I'm not sure how long this experiment will last.

But, I've attempted a start here on 'Conversations I Want To Have'. WordPress seems to offer better comment moderation than Blogger. And I had the account anyway from a few years ago before I moved to Blogger and was testing alternatives.

Maybe I'll feel better when I figure out how to back-up WP. Or maybe I'll be convinced by tomorrow that this is the wrong medium.

A Mini Carnival Of Links

Here is a collection of linked essays. Too often I hear that if it's not on Blogger or WP, if it's specifically on Livejournal and now more recently Dreamwidth, then it's a tempest in a teapot.

Here is discussion on aversive racism and the creative process that is likely being missed because of such attitudes.

It's Just A Story, from Aesc @ Livejournal.

War of the Worlds was one of many stories that H.G. Wells churned out in the infancy of modern science fiction, and one of many adaptations done for the Mercury Theater program, one that ran without much distinction (or much sponsorship). Yet this "just a story" famously incited deep anxiety across the United States, if not the outright panic and violence tradition attributes to its broadcast: people weren't running riot in the streets, but their fear was enough to be noted by newspapers across the country and the world. The adaptation of Wells's ridiculous alien novella, just a story, has a place next to the announcement of the bombing of Pearl Harbor as a historically significant radio broadcast--not for its facticity, but because of the fact that its narrative worked on a population so powerfully the nation had to notice. To this day, its legacy endures not only because of its status as part of H.G. Wells's canon, or Orson Welles's, but because of what it, in and of itself, did.

Some years later, J.K. Rowling wrote her Harry Potter books, a series of insigificant just-stories. It's been read by millions upon millions of people, in god knows how many languages, by kids and adults. Yet at the same time it's been banned in some US public and school (both public and private) libraries, evangelicals have spoken virulently against it for promoting witchcraft, and Pope Benedict XVI has condemned it. It's easy for agnostics, atheists, and religious individuals who don't adhere strictly to the orders of their authorities to say these are the attitudes of people who are sorely out of touch with reality, but it also suggests that the story is not just a story, that there is, in fact, something there, that the content is not devoid of meaning(s), nor is the content divorced from the world that both produces and receives it. This "just a story" (or, I guess, just seven stories) got kids to read and elated educators who worried about a generation more obssessed with TV and video games.

Another just-story, The Lord of the Rings became part of 1960s and 70s counterculture. The massive collection of notebooks that produced it, and the letters J.R.R Tolkien exchanged with friends and fans, speak to Tolkien's desire to create a distinctly British mythos, his desire to preserve nature from the march of industrialization and depersonalization, that myth would survive even as empiricism threatened to strip romance out of the world.

So, my question is, why "it's just a story" exists, given overwhelming evidence of the fact that stories aren't "just" anything. A related question is why people think "it's just a story" is actually a defensible argument.


Oh, the hue and the cry!... from Ephemere @ Dreamwidth.
But there are times when one has to speak, because silence is damning. I am in a place where there are so many things I wish to say, but cannot; these times when I can speak are precious to me, and rare, and all the more deserving of being seized and grasped and held on to because of that. I'm tired of the silence, tired of gentleness, tired of courtesy, because sometimes when a person is harrowing up old wounds and creating fresh ones in my heart it's such an effort to bite my tongue and smile and say, I have nothing against you, but please don't do that.

Let me say, then: how dare you try to silence us, how dare you try to bind our hands yet again as we strike at the system. How dare you dismiss our anger. How dare you.


On Nation Language, Gibberish and Why Both Aren't The Same from JazzyPom @ Dreamwidth.
"To speak a language is to take on a world, a culture." Fanon says, and the implicit notion that to put away a language is to bury a world and culture, which is what colonalisation and learning the culturally accepted language demands you to do. In Australia, they did one better, by taking the indigenous children away from their communities, and the first thing to go (after the bonds, and culture) was the chance of learning their nation language (L1).

Which brings me back to... the notion of dismissing Haiti's nation language as gibberish, it hit me hard, because of the reasons detailed above. For most colonised areas, you didn't learn English, or Spanish or French because it pleased you, but to survive and get ahead, especially if you weren't white.


How could they? How could anyone? from Facetofcathy @ Dreamwidth.
I absolutely believe that the author did not know this story was offensive. I absolutely believe that the author did not know they wrote racist depictions of Haitian people. I absolutely believe the artist did not realize that using pictures of Haitian people was offensive. I absolutely believe that the artist did not know that was a racist act. I just don't think any of that matters.


Now, I know some people will say 'This is a bunch of discussion about fanfic and is thus unimportant'. But what it is, is a part of the long conversation of which Racefail09 was just a little part - a part of a conversation some people finally paid attention to. And the listed essays here is showing who's still thinking about that, working through it, making it relevant.

If there's been an instance of published writers calling out other published writers (since '09), showing as a community that they're still thinking about these topics and checking themselves and trying to learn and grow and rectify - email me and point me to it.

Because I'm fairly certain the same thing as happened with the prompt for these discussions happens in the professionally published writer's world; beta readers = writing groups and editors and friends and family. And often they see nothing wrong with the stereotypes being presented or if they do they say nothing (or get ignored as they try to bring it up)

And then we're left with phrases like: prepare the land for human habitation. Oh Patricia Wrede, how I'll never forget you.

These are not quite the conversations I want to have - but they're conversations I don't mind having, when people are up to speed and engaged.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


If 1 in 5 of the plot-points/plot-facts mentioned in the following two linked videos on Failbender the Movie are true (and there are a LOT of plot points) - that on top of the racefail/castingfail equals... tripe.

Tripe mated with pondscum on a hot summer day.

It's up to those reading to watch the videos and deal with the spoilers if they so desire. I tried making a list of all the fail and just - HEAD. SPLODEY.

The appropriation doesn't stop. There's also some serious sexism. I'm fairly certain I spotted some agism (in a movie for kids). There's also a lack of agency on the part of the kids, along with a lack of foresight, tactics, subterfuge or survival skills.

The thing that enraged me beyond the telling of it, was EarthBenders who need a white (male) kid to inspire them to fight back - when they're surrounded by nothing BUT earth.

I mean, there's nitpick wtf by the dozens, of course; places interchanged, confused, split in half or just plain wrong; ideology that's wrong, circumstances and situations shifted that lose their meanings etc...

But the isms...

Vid 1.

Vid 2.

PS: Apparently all the kid swag to promote the film has been giving away the movie's plot points and shots etc in books and puzzles and who knows what else.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Bullet of White Ignorance Racism

meggugt @ LJ, states: Not to be rude, but Lynching is not just limited to blacks. Anyone could be lynched. Lynching is hanging, and in some places is still concidered a legal form of execution carried out by law inforcement. While Shinga's a sweetheart for apologizing, I don't actually see that she had a need. You're taking something that was once a common form of lawful execution here in the states and being over-sensitive about it because some racist ass-holes who lived years ago decided that it was ok to use it against blacks just because they didn't like them. What they did was wrong, but lynching isn't to blame, the people who did it are.
Please don't blame a thing or a term for the mistakes of a mass of stupid near sighted people.

Lynching is hanging, and in some places is still concidered a legal form of execution carried out by law inforcement.

Lynching is hanging, and in some places is still concidered a legal form of execution carried out by law inforcement

Lynching is hanging, and in some places is still concidered a legal form of execution carried out by law inforcement


Dear Meggugt of Livejournal,

Even Wikipedia wants to know wtf is up with your ignorance about lynching.


Y'know, if white people weren't so intent on continuing this mythology that it was just a few bad apples responsible for slavery and jim crow (and apartheid) - they wouldn't have to be so damn worried that there's a coming race war that needs constant stamping down through intimidation, rights denial and murder. And y'know, the world might actually get someplace.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Princess In The City

This post is the culmination of two essays that I suddenly realized were really one.


Sometime last week, I watched the Sex and the City Movie. The first one.

I couldn't read and wanted to watch something mindless and it was on, and well, I watched it. Twice actually since the first time through I couldn't believe I was watching it and flipped the channel many, many times.

And just as I was beginning to understand the level of boredom and lack of focus that might lead individuals to think getting drunk is an amazing idea - It occurred to me, that Sex and the City is a 21st century fairytale.

To be specific, a 21st Century Fairy Tale for white, cis, het, currently able bodied western, North American, Christian leaning/familiar women.

A Fairy Tale where there are women, with Princes and challenges to get their Prince or prove their worth to their Prince (shades of Psyche's redemption journey) and get their Happily Ever After. Except for Samantha, who's apparently a really, really, really bad combination of misguided ideas of what a sexually independent older woman must be - which is apparently a female body guided by 'male morals, ethics and emotional responses' - in a way that isn't presented as trans and unfortunately conforms to a lot of male stereotypes; like boredom with monogamy and why men get beer bellies when they're married.

BUT, as I was saying, it's a Fairy Tale. With Fairy Tale meetings, Fairy Tale sex, Fairy Tale trials and obstacles, Fairy Tale miscommunication or lack of communication, Fairy Tale weddings and Fairy Tale endings.

Now please let us put a temporary hold on the type of protagonist in this Fairy Tale and all her particular needs, wants, desires, instincts and self-sabotages.

I feel I must have mentioned before my laywoman's perspective on the Gothic Romance roots of Paranormal Romance and Paranormal Romance (with gore and suspense, possibly mystery) aka-ed as Urban Fantasy. And I think this origin explains why it's so difficult for me to read those kinds of stories these days, despite how much I love the concept of modern life, particularly modern city life, with fantastic beings and abilities and powers.

Because there's a woman no one understands, somewhat isolated from her peers and society, with a certain hurt and a certain loneliness and out there, circumstance will bring her to a 'good catch', who is also somewhat isolated and hurt in his own way, with troubles on his brow and grave responsibilities.

The Dark Prince.

The Dark Prince for the Dark Princess; the one without the cadre of three or so close personal friends to stroke her ego, support her decisions and delight with her in the sunshine, rainbows and wishes of the brighter fairy tales.

And L.A. Banks' characters aside, and the odd WoC 'Chick-Lit', the bulk and majority of these women, these Princesses, are white. And in the case of the Dark Princess, her pale, skinny, flat belly showing on the cover beauty, doesn't seem to understand that physically fighting and battling her monsters and darker shadows involves getting dirty and needing to protect vital organs.

No matter what, a Princess never gets physical scars - only emotional ones that can be healed by the right man, with the right touch and the right Fairy Tale circumstances.

So let's bring the protagonist of SitC (and her ilk) back (unstick the pin, unpause the hold).

It's always FAIRY TALE circumstances, a blatant 'unattainable' for anyone else - and not because it's 'fantasy'. The (SitC) Bright Princess, like an anime magical girl has all good things come to those with the power of heart and determination.

The Bright Princess - The Insider,
aka a Suzy Homemaker; whether it be with cookies or designer house couture.

'The Dark Princess' appeals though a framework that mentions empowerment and sets the reader up to see through the eyes of a character brought, dragged, fallen into, or trying to survive in this world within a world where the rules are all different than what the majority faces and there's a need to be taken seriously and make a place.

The Dark Princess - The Outsider.
aka a Jesse Jetset-Jobhaver ; the hyphenated working woman, facing battles no one can appreciate in a world that can't or won't understand her and her mission.

My whole life is about worlds within worlds. Everyday I live in multiple worlds, trying to balance and keep my head and not lose myself. But I can't see myself or anyone I know in these characters and scenarios. They might talk about home and sanctuary and family but they don't reflect my needs or experiences.

They might talk about prejudice and oppression, but again, they don't reflect my reality. It's all buzz words and the half naked, bestial devoted soul-mate/partner has a white man deep inside - and his great sin is not trusting in the self determination/independence of his white woman. Or occasionally, I've seen one or two books out there , deep inside the bestial blood lusting soul-mate is a devoted white woman for the odd lesbian pairing.

It's all so co-opting and oblivious, like a movie girl in glasses taking them off and suddenly discovering her inner cheerleader or a movie undesirable discovering she alone has the power to fight the darkness, where in both cases she just needed the right school and the right group of friends to notice her, and cultivate her.

It's exceptionalism, which perhaps is a seed within all Fairy Tales. Except these Fairy Tales have set the bar for what is acceptable to be exceptional. Only a certain type of girl (woman if she's had sex before) gets tapped to be cultivated.

There's a very nice essay here about The Audience; that is the people a writer is expecting to read and enjoy their story - who may not necessarily be anything like the actual people who end up with the book or novel in their hands.

And it helps me sum up my thoughts that The Bright Princess and The Dark Princess are for a particular audience; Sex in the City & Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy are for a particular set of readers. They tap a particular audience and say 'This is your wish-fullfillment of being chosen, of being swept away, of finding physical ways to represent your self determination'. Much, perhaps, in the same way superhero comic books, these days, tap middle aged white men and try to kiss and nuzzle them into the selfish, self-involved fantasies of their younger years - where girls have cooties or are unattainable prize beauties and everyone that matters is their best male friend.

[ASIDE:] I'm not sure I have the wherewithal right now to get into how Chicklit and Romance have been pushed as the kind of wish-fullfillment that girls and women should want; the types of fantasies and adventures they should want to have or dream about and how Paranormal Romance/ Paranormal Romance w/ Martial Arts or Guns (Urban Fantasy) comes across as a way to reach for more action, while still dealing with the trappings of Romance grooming and also include some sexual revolution with erotica and women claiming pleasure sexually vs claiming pleasure at being chosen to be loved. BUT I do want to put a side note for it, and also point how how it's only a certain kind of woman, a certain class, race, of a certain experience who got pushed into dreaming about handsome hunks, and weddings and exotic vacation romance - and thus who've ended up feeling a need to 'break out'.

It's like when people mention 'Women going out into the workforce and leaving the kitchens in the 60's/70's'; they don't mean all women. It's just that Black maids and Asian restaurateurs and Latina cantina/cafeteria workers* who'd all BEEN supporting their families, don't count.


*Or Greek seamstresses or Italian secretaries etc... [/ASIDE]

So coming back to the Fairy Tale and those who don't get the Fairy Tale; those who get a different story of escape. I've spoken before about what stories get told to me as being for me; Ghetto Lit. Where the Prince, Robin Hood, Hero Hood/Hood Hero foremost male protagonist is from a gang, or is some kind of thug with a history in prison. And the Princess main female protagonist is a girl who knows how to work it, who wants the bling, who's been degraded at some point in her life and treated as less than and she will climb beyond that - and not Cinderella style degraded by the way; I don't recall gang initiation rapes, or forced prostitution even in the old, bloody, toe loosing, birds pecking out eyes versions.

Whether it's Ghetto Lit for teens or Ghetto Lit for adults, whether it's a barrio or the hood, the beasts don't have magical powers, or shapeshifting abilities, they have guns and knives and attitude - and they're "products of their environment" with every negative stereotype that phrase implies.

While some individuals, one cultivated audience, gets told to dream of kicking ass, taking names, and having it all (reasonably middle class and above), including sexual satisfaction - another gets told that their escape, their dreams are (or should be) about getting one over on the cops, staying out of prison and getting their baby's father to admit to blood kinship.

Sometimes, in the telling of the Bright & Dark (for white) Fairy Tales, someone gets to be a lady-in-waiting, an attendant, like Jessica Hudson's character Louise; a magical negress, who's properly trying to attain the Bright Fairy Tale (right down to renting parts of it when necessary). And in return for good service, gets given a totem of respect from the 'Princess' as she goes off towards her now stamped and approved lesser noble marriage - far from court of course.

These are the stories we, as a society, are telling ourselves. Wait no. These are the stories, the expectations, the fundamentals of dreams and fantasy, the Fairy Tales being set forth, sent forward and ingrained by those at the top; with the power. Be this kind of Princess and get this kind of reward. Be this kind of Princess and get this feeling of accomplishment.

What? You don't fit our definition of Princess (From Disney poofy skirt to Chick Lit perfect slippers to UF gritty leather pants) ? Too bad.

[Comments On. Usual Rules Apply Closed due to spammers]

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Nnendi Okorafor Redux

Nendi Okorafor wrote a post. This would be where I mention and quote it.

And this link, goes to a blank page where Okorafor has deleted her post, her thoughts, tried to erase her history/actions online.

Unfortunately my trusty screencapture didn't catch her words. I don't know what happened. But googlecache still has her words, sans WS's comment. And I do have a confirmed screencapture of the cache.

It's been mentioned before that in the world of hyperlink essays and conversations - deleting is heinous. It's an attempt to silence the voice of the other person, and any conversations that happened in that space. It's an attempt to say 'That person is lying on me, because where are my words? You can't find them can you!'

Luckily, once something's on the internet, chances are - it's on there forever. So choose your words wisely - or at least be able to admit you made them.

It's Not A Conspiracy. It's just Nostalgia.

Genderswitched Aang & The Gaang.

Toph: Exactly the same.

Or so says the artist (~carrinth). And that really annoys me. Because there's no reference in that to 'overprotected blind child of parents dealing with rampant ablism and who don't see child as individual with talents'. Is it some sort of pun, I guess to Toph's strength and demeanor and how delighted she was to be played by a Man in 'The Ember Island Players'? Does Toph being strong and actve make her less a girl?

And I guess the annoyance goes along with F!Zuko suddenly being part of an arranged marriage instead of being the heir who was disgracedn and now complaining about dying alone and a virgin. And my annoyance that F!Sokka suddenly just wants to settle down and find a nice boyfriend.

F!Aang is adorable, but is defined by her crush on M!Katara where it's also M!Katara who's out to save the world.

Are any artists who do such interesting gender switched art, thinking about how the story-paths for the characters change in their heads?

At least there was that bit about M!Katara unable to find any defenseless females.


Oh yeah, and Nickolodeon* wants only white Power Ranger Leads. *If you did buy the franchise back Saban, this is how you handle things?


That wooshing sound you hear in your ears is important and symbolic.

Last Airbender Fail - Just Keeps Giving

via: 30 Ninjas.Cojm /Blog.

Aasif Mandvi: He’s in competition with Zuko. [But] it’s not just being in competition with Zuko. He has a very fundamental point of view and he’s fundamentally bereaved that he is more the rightful heir to the throne than Zuko is. And it’s very Edgar/Edmund from King Lear. I played the relationship between me and Dev [Patel]’s character very much like the relationship between Edgar and Edmund in King Lear. You know, they’re the two brothers. One is the bastard son, and one is the legitimate son. And Zhao is clearly the bastard son of the Fire Lord.

This is clearly what happens when you encourage your actors not to interact/read the source material. They decide their character is important based on XYZ (it's very Shakespearean Actors Going For More Lines) and spout off what may be unintentionally misogynist phrases about how the battle for the crown is between two men.

Azula? What Princess Of Unmerciful & Terrifying Firebending Ability? There's a royal woman somewhere? What?

PS: (Aasif) Mandvi

"It’s about colonialism. It’s about aggression"

Colonialism and (imperial) Aggression can't be separated from race theory. The idea of we the aggressors are right and bright and all that is good and proper and they the conquered are in need of our knowledge and benevolence and mastery and to be under our control?

That can't be separated from race theory.

"I mean, the thing is that the Fire Nation, as it is seen in this movie, really represents a sort of a hybrid of the Japanese Empire, the British Empire, the Nazis, the American Empire, this kind of imperial aggressive force in the world. And not to touch too much on the race stuff, but what I will say about it is if you just look at it as brown people versus white people, you are reducing it a little bit. It is a little bit more complicated than that. Because when you look at the Fire Nation as created in this film, it is kind of a hybrid of a lot of different influences, Eastern, Western, European. It’s British, it’s American, it’s Japanese, it’s Middle Eastern. It is a lot of things."

No one's just looking at it as brown vs white. People are looking at it as a history of propaganda where brown is dangerous, wild, evil and out of control; propaganda based on imperialism, colonialism and racism vs white as the saviors where the same propaganda has white as the champions for all that is good.

Invoking the Japanese Empire alongside the British and American empires doesn't absolve the racist and bigoted history of imperialism. Ask Koreans, or some venerated elders from Thailand. And did you just bring up West Asia in vague vague terms of 'some Middle Eastern empire somewhere' and not specifically the Persian and Ottoman Empires? With all the real world history (of Western Imperial Interference) specificity would bring?

Sheesh, I didn't know becoming an actor and promoting a movie was a form helpless puppetted subservience to the Studio. I guess you'll be glad when the Daily Show writers can give you intellectually witty and pointed things to say again on race, class and gender. In which case I think those are the better puppet masters for you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Very Public Post

Dear Nnedi Okorafor

When W*ll**m Sh*tt*rly is AGREEING WITH YOU (and complimenting you - on being a good negro) - that's a sign you took a wrong turn into internalized isms and non confrontational agreeableness and have lost. your. way.

I bring you back to Chimamanda Adichie, and The Danger Of A Single Story. Which I think is one of the single best lectures/explanations of how Colonialism, and Privilege affect the psychology and sociology of the global landscape.

The stories we tell ourselves, shape ourselves. The tropes and stereotypes we repeat to ourselves begin to have a foundation that's at the very least subconsciously counted on as truth.

I am extremely and immensely hurt that you would not consider broader context and the complexities of media representation and have seemingly bought into exceptionalism and how it conquers all; everything from racism to sexism.

I don't begrudge your right to have/hold your own opinions. But I do begrudge you, as a seen and known writer of colour making this statement public:

My point is that I think we should refrain from blindly stamping every film with a white male main character who seeks to infiltrate an "other" society and ends up changing things forever as a "white man saves the day" film or a racist film (does that sentence make sense?). It's unknowingly privileging such characters, as if their mere presence makes them instantly special. I think we should take each film as it comes.

Ms. Okorafor, it is NOT people of colour who are privileging those white characters who save the day and influence their circumstances by their specialness. Recognizing the trope is NOT perpetuating it.

How can you not see that?