Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

Got my hands on it. Finally read it.

I liked it.

Simple and to the point, isn't it.

It has a lot of things to recommend it. It is fantasy, with an interesting set of cultures. The main protagonist is female, and she's brown! But it also hits points I like. It involves creation tales and the sagas and loves and struggles of deities and creation avatars. There is some intrigue, but not enough to twist you all around and make you pull out your hair and wonder why no one talks or thinks in a straight line. It's the intrigue of family, of old grudges and jealousies and some misunderstandings and the need to mold certain family members a certain way - sometimes via conviction it's all the right thing for them.

There's even something of superhero origin story, complete with arch nemisis; if you think of superheroes as modern creation avatars; our modern gods (small g) and demi gods.

I have read other reviews - some found the main character, Yeine, to be somewhat passive or pliant or swept along by circumstance. I think it'd be difficult for anyone not to have their footing destabilized in such circumstances. But I didn't find her passive because she was always thinking, always trying to understand, always trying to piece together the truth and see where she herself fit, and her goals.

I will admit, however, that the eros love story was not the love story I enjoyed the most. It wasn't badly done, but I can admit to thinking it echoed every lonely dark brooding vampire/werewolf/urban fantasy male love interest with man-pain and sad eyes and primal stuff. But undoubtedly that's a trope for a reason.

And I have my own reasons for loving characters with a certain fluidity of personality and world perceptions. Thus my favouring the other love story - though undoubtedly some will ask why I'm framing it with the words 'love story'. But I'm certain those who've looked into a pair of bright, fresh, trusting eyes know about that first look, head over heels, rush and fall in love.

It is a whole book, for all it's the first of a trilogy. So if for some off reason you end up having no interest in the characters for the second book at all - you won't miss out for not getting the second one.

Hmm, nothing else to say without spoiling anything.

Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemison. High fantasy that doesn't ignore or gloss over colonialism, genocide, imperalism etc in order for some random hero to get bling and praises. High fantasy that doesn't do it the way it's always been done, because that's what people expect; how the quest works; how the trope goes; what has made money or careers before.

A good book that's part of The Conversation I Want To Have.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dear Michael & Brian, You Were Lied To

Dear Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, M.Night Shylaman has spoken, and it is pretty obvious he lied to you.

At i09, M. Night Shylaman answers questions about The Last Airbender Live Action Move (aka, that Racist Mess). And he shows not only that he's the South Asian equivalent of an Uncle Tom; he shows that he doesn't get the optimism and hope of Avatar - that it wasn't that it started young and skewed older, but that it has a foundation of joy and hope and friendship that carries all through; just as it has a foundation of being non-white fantasy.

Remember the interview that's now unfortunately on the official animated series DVD? About how he 'got' it all?

M. Night Shylaman lied.

He does not get what you,Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko and Sifu Kisu and so many others tried to do do. He does not understand the concept of an all Asian, Non-White World. He doesn't understand the difference between Anime and Animation. He doesn't understand that Kung Fu styles come from various regions and have distinctive markers. He doesn't understand Sokka or Katara or Zuko or Toph and he definitely doesn't understand Aang.

M. Night Shylaman lied in order to get a franchise he thought would better his career. And in this Shadow Aparthied America, maybe his lies will bear him fruit; maybe he'll be successful.

Now that the director has spoken, those (fans and not) who don't want to think about racial issues, who don't like to think about racial issues, who don't have to think about racial issues; because they're white; are going to point to it and go SEE. SEE.

And never get that they're pointing to someone who has boldly stated he does not believe there can be talented Asian Descended Actors. Who has boldly stated that casting one actor meant the entire fictional nation had to resemble them and YET, he does NOT BELIEVE THERE CAN BE TALENTED ASIAN DESCENDED ACTORS. Those who believe 'the person who brings up race is the racist' are not going to see what's wrong with lines like these:

1. This nation has this ethnicity and when we go deep into that culture, we will see more there...Dev ended up being my choice for Zuko, and... I thought this takes us into a Mediterranean kind of Arab and Indian world, and I can go as far as that, that will be the breadth of the Fire Nation, that kind of look

2. Suki was Jessica [Andres] who is a mix of Filipino. And now the Earth Kingdom is all Asian so Toph will have to be Asian.

3. For me, Nicola [Peltz, who plays Katara] had a lot of Russian qualities, European and Russian qualities. So that was the direction we went there.

4. And there's a section of the Earth Kingdom that's African American.

5. So more so than the show, it will have a much more diverse ethnic backgrounds to it.

! ! !

Because it wasn't enough to keep the Water Tribes of the North & South Poles Inuit.

Because for a show to have Inuit, Japanese, Chinese (multiple dynasty), Tibetan, Korean, South Asian, Mezo-American analogues is NOT it being extremely ethnically diverse.

Because the only brown in the Earth Kingdom must somehow be African-Americans.

! ! !

M.Night Shylaman is South Asian. And it looks as if he's fallen headfirst into the mentality of the Model Minority. It looks to be that he's never critically examined racial theory, post colonial theory, US and Euro-Centrism.

"Because it's such a big country and land I thought you could have some diversity in there as they travel through the cities."

Because Kyoshi Island is the same as Bai Sing Se is the same as the area where Uncle Iroh was treated for poisoning, is the same as the area where Zuko briefly plays Shane.

Because in the Fire Nation, the Fire Lord's City is the same as Ember Island (which to me seemed extremely Balinese).

M.Night Shylaman may be South Asian, be he can't even see intra Asian diversity or recognize intra Asian ethnicity.

Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, you were lied to. You were lied to via the colour of Shylaman's skin, via his talk about his daughter, via his earnest desire to earn himself some money and notice in Hollywood. Your coat-tails were clung to, and now he's gone and changed everything; meaning, substance, style.

And maybe for changing so many OTHER fundamentals, fans of the show will have Recognition Rejection.


Thank You, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko; Thank You Sifu Kisu; Thank You to the Voice Actors, Researchers, Costume Advisers, Calligraphers.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is something wonderful.

And those of us who love it, will have to buy it, or copy it and hold on to it with all our might, because surrounded by a white world convinced of its own superiority it is now slowly being erased; nibbled into nothingness with every whitewashed toy and manga tie-in and ethnically not diverse score and music swell.

M.Night Shylaman lied. He is a liar.

And maybe it doesn't matter that he said what you wanted to hear, because working under Nickolodeon meant you didn't have much choice about what happened to your creation - because it wasn't strictly your creation under corporate rules. Which is saddening because I hear you're doing something new, but I don't know if I can put myself through this for a round two - with you two powerless to speak, powerless to defend something that so many cherish because you brought them into the world of fantasy.

Non-white creators can't break in, because the rules are set and those in power refuse to look when people and their works don't fit predetermined slots for White Recognition Glee. You, as white creators propped the door open, and now it's being slammed shut again. And isn't that balance in a white world that they're getting a South Asian to do the slamming.

* * *

I am tired of this shit. I am tired of having to hold out hope the Hollywood machine will dare something new - will change a mode of operation that's been going on for a 100 years.

There has to be a way to create FUBU-WOOD; For Us, By US Cinema / Fantasy For Us, By Us Cinema. There has to be a way to have FUBU-Publishing. There has to be.

Being dependent on THEM, isn't going to bring freedom, choice and representation.

"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

-- M.L.King Jr

Technology has become cheaper. We have the internet. We need to take this step forward. Negotiation isn't working. Asking, isn't working. What are we to do? Wait on Chance?

Chance gave us A: TLA Animated Series. And now it's being plucked away.

I keep saying THIS, this creation, this making our own, for us, by us for our consumption, reflecting our realities is The Conversation I Want To Have.

Enough being reactionary. Let us discus being pro-active. Cause if we aren't, it will only be a steady diet of disappointment after disappointment - of watching those who get granted power, kowtow in order to hold onto it. As power given, can be taken away.

Avatar: The Last Airbender has been taken away.

What are we going to do about it?

[Comments Open]

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dear Chromatic Fans Of A:TLA

An image of the manga versions of the movie versions of Avatar:The Last Airbender. Everyone's white.

Paramount's Money Maker's Say; Ha ha! Eff. You.

Those of you who're fans of the Animated Series; who know, knew and believe 'Aang Can STAY Asian & Still Save The World' - you can count off all the WRONG.

Oh Whiteonia, Whiteonia, land of palest skin
Whiteonia, Whitetonia, be fair so you can win
Represented everywhere, always with a bright blonde hair
Stands Forever Tall
Represented everywhere, stealing stories without care
Whitetonia claims it ALL

ETA: Yes, I know they code one way to those who don't think all of manga and amine is white. But they're STILL not the characters, and the darkest of them are definitely no longer dark.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Before I Forget

I got called out, sometime in Feb, for my use of the term magical realism and life's been, well, life, since then (with me going away for 2 weeks, health issues, etc).

I haven't' forgotten that I want to make a post to clear up, if possible, that the person who called me out is right - magical realism IS its own thing with huge ties and origin history to the Latin@ creative community and it has also become something of a ghetto - at least in terms of America (and possibly the UK) as a place to put non-white fantasy fiction.

The Pop Culture World In 2010

Am.nd. P.lm.r and W.ll.m

Separated at Birth?


It's my birthday month and I've been trying to spend it in the mellow, but then white people just have to prostrate themselves and shove a camera right up their backsides so the world can see their true ickiness.

The same way I lost all respect for Emma Bull (though in truth she said somethings herself) is the way I'm now, Neil Gaiman - really? This is who you're attracted to and love? This is whose love will undoubtedly have an affect on your future works? This is who you like?

This racist, ablist, attention whoreslut (and yes, I said it, ATTENTION SLUT - As in someone attention promiscuous, having no regard, discretion or discrimination when it comes to how she receives attention; slovenly and of loose character as long as there is some form of attention (fawning or diatribes) being paid to her. A person who lacks the ability or chooses not to exercise a power of discernment to order their affairs with no regard to the cares, concerns or emotions of others.)

Wow, Neil Gaiman - that's what you find attractive? And yeah, I am focusing on Gaiman as a writer of works I have adored. Never listened to P.lm.r and hardly ever likely to now. My shock is all about what her behavior says about the people in her life - y'know, like when people look at a person and go 'Wow, her mother taught her NO manners'.

Then again I suppose manners and 'edgy' pop-stardom don't go hand in hand?

And for the record, no, I don't think someone can be a really nice and sweet person who just somehow becomes an enormous jerkwad online. Because the little old ladies who made sandwhiches and lemonade for lynchings - they claimed to be nice and sweet too - unless it had to do with black people, who in their eyes weren't really people. And the sweet, frat boys who see nothing wrong with raping drunk or drugged girls? Aren't really salt of the earth. And the upstanding community pillar who molests small children? Not really a role model.

You can't be nice and sweet and dehumanizing at the same time.

It doesn't work that way.

ETA: PS - Jim Butcher. Keep keeping your mouth shut and being all private. Thank you, sincerely!

ETA2: Comment made wherein I admit slut's a jerky word to use.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Facebook Deletes Racebending Group

I have never joined facebook. I am likely to never join facebook - sorry to the few of you who've invited me. But this latest thing?

Facebook Deleted People Against Racebending: Protest of the Cast of The Last Airbender Movie Claiming TOS Violations & Hatespeech. More here.

That's, to quote the Spill crew, Some Ole Bullsh*t right there. And it is not too far a leap to believe that Paramount may have had a hand in it, if you remember the copyright upset they pulled against Racebending Protest T-Shirts.

In all likelihood though, it seems that Facebook has a continued practice of not investigating claims against a group, especially when it involves ethnic minorities (American or Non American). And here we have many ethnic minorities, and supporters protesting media discrimination and... bahletion?


WTF is the appeal of Facebook anyway when you're not an organization trying to keep in contact with thousands of members? And the Racebending Facebook, did indeed have thousands of members. But this kind of thing is Facebook's idea of professionalism?

Twitter has more gravitas and responsibility towards its own users than Facebook?

Anyway, Jeff Yang has put up a Protest against the take down. Personally I think that's just a case of using the Master's Tools. But it's still someone trying to get word spread through Facebook about what's going on.