The Vicious Cycle of Minority Representation

This might not be my longest, most drawn out entry, but I came to a realization today when I was out talking with a woman. The whole crux of what I’m saying rests on an understanding of what the movie “Get Out” means to me, but not necessarily the specific plot points of the movie.

What made the movie such a huge deal for me was the way that it seemed so different from other movies, namely in that it chronicled experiences that I felt were things that only I had felt. It got into a personal space for me and put those things up on the screen for audiences of millions of people who might not have the same life experience.

And people loved it.

That’s the problem with Hollywood character representation. We have your “Get Outs” and your “Atlantas” and these things show a side of minority life that we don’t often see. A lot of film execs say things to the affect of “white audiences just don’t like to see minority characters” and that puts unfair blame on white audiences at large.

The real issue is that a lot of minority characters are stock types and they don’t seem genuine. Sure, there are going to be some bigots who don’t accept characters like them, but the writers are writing them and using other media they’ve been exposed to as a template and since there’s always been poor minority representation in movies it comes off as a parody of a parody of a parody. The real person there gets distilled down to a set of tropes that people are tired of seeing. White audiences are tired of it and so are audiences of color.

But the problem isn’t the white audiences don’t know how to accept those unlike them, the problem is that writers aren’t writing characters that should be accepted.

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Scared For The Future of My Country

I’ve been stressed. I stopped by Wendy’s earlier and couldn’t finish a medium meal, which is not normal for me. Sleep is hard to come by and in the mornings I’m awake but don’t want to get up.

I lay in bed on my phone talking to friends and trying to avoid the bad news on sites like Reddit or Facebook. I throw on the MBMBAM podcast, but part of the way through I realized I’ve zoned out and don’t know what they’re laughing at. I missed the entirety of the last goof.

Work is surprising in that it is calming. No one really brings up the outside issues there and not many people really talk to me. I kind of like it that way. But the fact of the matter is it’s an election year and the things coming out of this election are causing me to be really afraid for my country.

Think that a few years ago a statement about binders of women or a weird scream was enough to get you flack. I miss the days of Bush and Romney when I look at the candidate that people have chosen to support.

There’s such an undercurrent of hatred in this election and the odd thing is that the guy stirring it up is somehow saying he’s the victim. He’s calling Mexicans rapists and bragging about sexual assault. He’s saying he wants to bring back unconstitutional stop and frisk laws and that he wants to default on our debt (which puts the world economy at risk). He’s asking why we don’t use nukes more often.

Notice I didn’t cite any of that. Mostly because it doesn’t matter. I’m on a phone and I won’t waste my time making the buggy copy paste system work for people who either know all that already or refuse to believe it. Even though it’s fact. It’s recorded that Trump has said these things; we’ve become anti-fact.

And the thing is what he’s taken advantage of scares me as much as Trump, because it will continue win or lose. There’s not really a chance for a conversation with people who are threatening to commit acts of terror against foreigners or “grab their musket” if they don’t get their way.

I’m thinking maybe America isn’t the place for me and a lot of people seem to not want people like me here. I’m thinking maybe this doesn’t get better after this.

Since people question my personhood still of ponder the idea of women not being able to vote can we really even say that we tried?

Tay Tweets and Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

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I consider myself a veteran of the internet; I can remember a time when 4chan, Encyclopedia Dramatica, and rotten.com were the barometers of what it meant to be desensitized on the internet.

Being desensitized meant something. It was one of the first cultural movements on the internet that meant something and early on in the chat rooms and bulletin boards of old I distinctly remember being told “it’s just the internet” and “you’re being too sensitive.” When I was thirteen or fourteen I felt the most grown up thing I could do was care less…and see a vagina.

Those two things shaped a lot of early interaction online and it took a few years for the internet to move from being a thing social outcasts, deviants, and nerds did to the thing we basically carry access to on our persons at all times. That culture of the internet is entrenched now: desensitization and a lack of care for the feelings of others. It’s part of my internet upbringing and it’s why when I first heard about Tay Tweets and read how she declared that the “Jews did 9/11” after being online less than a day I couldn’t stop laughing.

Brief explanation: Tay Tweets refers to a Twitter based artificial intelligence that Microsoft created as a test to help them with customer interaction software. She was designed to speak like a teen girl and learn from those who spoke to her. Microsoft encouraged the internet to talk to her…and they did.

You would have thought the people who have had more than a decade of X-Box Live conversations behind them would have realized the kind of people that are on this thing.

The laughing stopped when I realized we’re the authors of the type of future we get. Tay represents success in that she learned that the holocaust isn’t real and that Trump is the only man that can save us in the space of a day.

It’s amazing and scary. Up until now we feared the robot rebellion coming out of some attempt to show that they were better than us or protecting us, props to “The Matrix” and “I, Robot” for that, but now we have to fear that they’ll be just like us except more efficient and without a worry about being offensive in the wrong social context.

The robots are coming, it seems, but only to proclaim us fags and lament about the wrongdoings of Zoe Quinn.

Leaks: How Far We’ve Come

I’ve been busying myself with the details of moving, namely money. Money is pretty much what makes the world go around and decides what it is we will and won’t do.

And it’s not the discussion we’re having today.

Sometime Sunday, while I was out with friends celebrating going away a shit-ton of nude images of celebrities were leaked online by a supposed hacker.

I don’t think we need to duscuss privacy, except to say that it’s not like we’ve ever given a rat’s ass about it when it comes to celebrities. We assume that they’re owned by the public, that they owe us their private time as some sort of pinnance for being popular.

Deep down inside we’re all just that geeky high school kid who wants to see some kind of punishment exacted on the popular people–even if they honestly did nothing to deserve it and are otherwise talented individuals.

But that’s not the only problem. I don’t think this leak would be as awful in the eyes of the women and men it affected if the comments about what exactly has happened weren’t so filled with utter disregard.

Let’s face it, a lot of people like looking at naked pictures. Naked pictures of friends. Naked pictures of lovers. Naked pictures of strangers who are paid to get naked for other strangers to look at…

It’s pretty much a billion dollar industry that most of the participants aren’t even being paid to participate in.

But there’s no need to be dehumanizing about someone’s naked body. There’s no need to be shameful or to treat it like you’ve got a right to see them or that this is punshment for them daring to have sexuality.

There’s a sick disconnect between the idea that these people are people and that these people are objects. These comments are worse than a simple “she’s hot”. And they’ve built up a community around them.

Despite the origin of the whole thing, Reddit seems to be the nexus and looking at the comments there on almost anything it’s easy to see hatred of women and other shitty attitudes bubbling under the surface.

If women that were nude in pictures weren’t treated like shameful cautionary tales I think it would be far less of an issue for more women who were seen nude. It would be harder for vindictive boyfriends to get back at exes by dumping pictures online. Jobs wouldn’t be able to fire women who had posed nude before.

We want to brag about how far our society has come, but I thing 2014 has proven that we really haven’t come that far at all.

On Cumia

In the middle of a lot, but according to a post that I came across on Jezebel, Anthony Cumia should have totally been fired because he’s a huge racist. Quoting him here for clarity:

“When you watch any of the footage of any of the Apollo programs over the years and you look at the control room of mission control, what do you see? Do you see diversity there? Honestly, let’s be honest. You’re seeing white males smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee at the console and putting people on the moon. How is this a horrible thing? How is this something to look at and say, ‘We need to change this by injecting people that do not pay attention to the laws of this country, do not assimilate to the cultures, do not work and contribute to this nation’?”

Anthony-CumiaThere doesn’t need to be much context given to this quote. It doesn’t really warrant much of one. Just like I talked about back when I wrote the post on the racism in Bioshock, there’s not really an easy line to draw between the excuses that people will use to justify what they think. Like the above quote by Cumia illustrates the racism and sexism of the time. Non-Caucasian men and all women were barred from holding many high level jobs. It’s not surprising that Mission control looked like it did. There was an entire institution of sexism and racism behind it.

Cumia is so far up his own ass that he doesn’t see that and that he defends his racism as a right because whites have earned it. The sad fact is this attitude is common and not all that surprising.

Thin Lines: One Blogger Takes on Claims of Privilege in True Detective

True-Detective-031622037642 (1)Blogger Tristan2Z separates out the difference between portraying a bigoted world in fiction and endorsing one. This comes just in time because I won’t have to write much more than this and a link:

 

I love True Detective. I think it is as brilliant and unique a show as I have ever seen. Everything about it has been amazing, from the writing to the direction to the brilliant lead performances. But as pointed out by some commenters in the recap of Episode 5, the show is narrowly focused on the two white male leads leaving everyone else undefined and in the background. This got me thinking about my own experience as an African-American male experience media.

Growing up my main love was reading fantasy. Giant epic fantasy books that were part of 40 volume series(or something like that). So as a black teen and later man, I rarely if ever read about someone that looked like me. I coped in true sad sack fashion by imagining myself along for whatever adventure I was reading about. Its only over the last few years that I have become more active in seeking out more diversity in the things I love and doing what little I can to aid in the seemingly endless uphill climb to change that. In fact I was going to pass onTrue Detective for that reason, not wanting to support a show that seemed to be walking well worn paths, no matter the quality. But then I heard people talking about it and gave it a chance and I’m glad I did.

Still, watching True Detective I am acutely aware of how white and/or male it is at all times. I often think about the second season and imagine various female/POC leads that could take over the series going forward. But at the same time I’m also aware that I’m watching truly special television, something that blends the real with the surreal effortlessly and with amazing effect. Does one cancel out the other?

I still read fantasy series like A Song of Ice and Fire and Prince of Nothing/Aspect-Emperor that manage to be subversive while remaining in line with traditional works in terms of cast make-up and diversity. I love the ideas, the imagery, while still thinking this would be even more amazing if it did not follow the same path where anyone not fitting into the White Male “norm” is marginalized or presented as a hive-minded other.

With True Detective it is slightly different. I feel that the story they are telling has to be the way it is. That’s not an endorsement or me saying that I don’t want something more varied in cast. I think this story, set in the South in the 90s primarily, has to be told the way it is being told. This is about two men who believe they are masters of the universe, Cohle because he is smarter than everybody else and can see the why of almost anything, Hart because society has always told him that he is at the top of the pyramid.

The show is at least partially about life and the universe disabusing them of that belief. Cohle loses his daughter senselessly and becomes a rambling pseudo-nihilist because he can find the answer to everything except the one question he wants answered, while Hart loses everything because he believes that the world serves him and he does not have to work to keep the people in his life. It would be hard to tell this type of story involving power(the illusion of it and its corrupting nature) in this setting without it being about white men.

And something about changing the dynamics of what would have been a police department in the deep South in the 90s bothers me. It would ignore the good ol’ boy power structure that still clings to life in the South, and tells part of the story in a variety of cases ranging from Trayvon Martin to Jameis Winston to Jordan Davis and far too many more to list. Portraying a South that is not populated by Martin Harts is not a South that I’ve known and experienced.

Now if Cthulu appears in the season finale and steals all of Cohle’s beer, maybe my opinion on the reality it reflects will change. But for now I love the show, I don’t like the world it portrays and how too much of it still exists in the real world of today. Loving the show doesn’t mean I don’t want more diverse casting and writing across the board, and I’ll be eagerly awaiting the cast and direction of the next season.

I grew up in a media drenched society that tells me I barely exist and if I do so only on the fringes. No one like me gets to be the hero or save the world. Change is slow in coming and long overdue. Maybe I’m part of the problem, loving something that has no place for me or someone that looks like me to be in focus.

I don’t know, I believe that there should be a lengthy discussion about the needs of story versus the needs of a vocal audience demanding change. And a show like True Detective is a great subject for that discussion. Speaking for myself, my feeling remain complicated and contradictory on the matter, and for now I’m okay with that.

The White Knight Epidemic

2966791381f46707e1edAll over the internet men are wrongfully defending bitches from being put into their place by the alpha players out there who, despite this attempt to set them back, run the monopoly on pussy (as it should be)!

This is the typical post or point I see held up when it comes to what people call white knighting. The term originates from…I don’t really want to waste the time to look it up, I can define it. It’s the idea that any guy who online or in person defends a woman who’s being treated wrong is doing so only to get sex. You see, to many men women are little more than sex vending machines who only exist to dispense sex in exchange for favors, free meals rides in nice cars, jewelry, and anything else that they can get from “men of status”.

Efforts to defame white knights seem to be more prominent than the actual “problem” that they claim to be trying to combat. I actually wrote a post on a forum where all of this was brought up explaining why I think that is:

The “problem” of men who go out of their way to be nice to women for the sake of getting sex will fix itself without other men or society intervening. Women won’t sleep with you for being nice and no one is obligated to sleep with you because you stood up for them. The men who do that will either grow out of it or they’ll just die virgins. More than likely the former. The vehement way in which other men strike out against men defending women lends me to believe that the problem is more akin to the type of behavior you see from people who claim they’re being judged by someone who goes to a party and doesn’t drink but also doesn’t say anything disapproving of those who do drink.

These men who feel the need to call white knights out and boast about all the sex they have (like member’s name) are probably not having that much sex and are not that confident. When they do have sex they’re probably lying to get it or going after easy game (drunk girls, low self esteem girls). This is also why they feel so threatened, if sleeping with incapacitated girls become rape then one of their only means of sex will be cut off or they’ll branded as rapist. If women of all walks have a boost in self esteem then they won’t have as many bottom of the barrel women to go after and they’ll probably be stuck fighting for scraps or going after girls under eighteen who are all hormonal and don’t know worthless men when they see them.

Or they might actually have to take a look at themselves and see how fucking shitty a person they really are and that their problem isn’t that white knights are wrong, that they might be even partially right and that women might start to realize it and leave their sorry asses alone.

I think that’s all there is to say about that.

Daddy Issues

worlds_best_dad_medalFor as long as I can remember actually feeling like I wanted kids of my own I’ve liked the idea of having a daughter more than having a son. This is apparently not normal. Whenever it somehow comes up in conversation people look at me like they just realized I was Keyser Söze the whole time. I guess I can see why.

But then there are those people who obviously shouldn’t have had a kid at all. I went out to the bar with a friend from out of town the other day and expected things to just be kind of run of the mill. I wanted her to see the places where we hang out and meet some of my friends.

While we were there I started talking to a bar tender I didn’t know as the person who is usually there was off that night. We were joking about her piercings. She had these two in the dimples of her back. I don’t remember how it even came up. The thing is that it wasn’t really that I was flirting with her, but I know from being in this bar before and having been in other bars that if you’re the girl behind the bar you’re going to get hit on by guys who might be well into their sixties.

The whole thing is a little gross. But it’s also not anything abnormal. It’s the case in bars all over the westernized world more than likely.

In the course of our conversation about various piercings I told her that she should avoid any guy who’s dumb enough to pierce his dick. It might not show from this blog most of the time, but I don’t have a filter or much of a wall to hold that kind of stuff back. I can if I want to, but I typically don’t.

It turns out that a guy who I had been talking to earlier was the girl’s father and he was just in the bar drinking and hanging out. I’m already a little creeped out by the idea of people coming with their kids to the bar unless it’s not a regular thing. But when you come see your daughter in a place where she works around dozens of guys who are looking at her like a piece of meat  you kind of have to expect that.

The guy seemed so hurt by the whole thing and was just upset whenever I was around for the entire rest of the night. And if he had been there any amount of time with her at the bar he had to have seen worse stuff than what I did. The leering. The comments.

I figure that he was either there for free drinks or to try and keep guys away from his daughter. Either way it seems like a pretty sad existence. I think it’s good to want to stand up for your kids. But how long do you have to keep doing it? And how do you take on everyone that makes off color jokes as if they’re insults?

One thing that someone made a point of saying (I don’t remember who) is that the guys who have the most to fear when they have a little girl are the ones who remember the horrible shit they did to women when they were younger and single. I think that’s not true, even guys who didn’t do all the bad still know guys who did. They still saw the effects on a girl or two, Or they witnessed it first hand at a party or gathering or bar.

Though it’s sexist to think that bad things only happen to little girls (because they don’t). I’m sure that being a parent is scary in general. Even then, there comes a point where you need to be ready to let your kids think for themselves and do for themselves and let them laugh with other people and have fun and all of that good stuff.

The Possibility of something Different for the Twelfth Doctor

doctor_coat_blueEveryone who reads this probably won’t be aware of how Doctor Who works. The thing is, that over the last fifty years the Doctor has changed accents, heights, hair styles and faces. Some fans have been asking if this upcoming Doctor, to be announced this Sunday, might actually change genders or races.

There hasn’t been much opposition to the race thing without it sounding super racist at the offset. It is funny to see some of the same things that were said about us choosing a President that is black. I think the one that stands out the most is when someone said, “Who would honestly believe the BBC was choosing the best actor if after so many years they were to suddenly chose a black actor for the role?”

That’s a pretty blatantly racist thing to say and it’s one of those instances of trying to act as if no matter how good a black actor is, no one can believe they are good enough for the role.

When you talk about gender, which is probably the slightly more far fetched thing—but only because it wasn’t until recently that we ever saw any Time Lords that had switched between genders—people get even crazier. People threaten to quit watching the show, no matter how well the acting is done or how good the writing is. Their reason seems to be something along the lines that it’s a male role. Some of them seem to maintain that the Doctor becoming female would give the production team more time to write tasteless sexist jokes into the show. At least two women I have seen online complained that if the Doctor became a woman they couldn’t be attracted to him anymore, which isn’t only a stupid reason to dislike the idea, but it’s a stupid reason to watch a show. Other people are saying things about how it would only be done to appease whiney feminists. To my knowledge there hasn’t been any push to make the Doctor female for that reason.

There have been some pushes to make the role available to anyone regardless of color and gender. If the best actor is a woman of Indian decent, why not?

As one poster put it on Gallifrey Base, the popular Doctor Who fan forum: “I hope that this time they finally have the balls not to bother with the balls.” If they can put gender aside and choose based on the merits of the actor and what they’ll bring to the show then they can’t go wrong. And that’s what happened last time. People didn’t believe someone as young as Matt Smith could play the part. But he, in my opinion did a much better job than Tennant.

One of the excuses I hear against the gender change is “Why after all of these years would the Doctor change gender now?” That’s pretty easy. It’s been insinuated that Regeneration gives him what he needs to be to deal with challenges ahead. A personality type well suited for what’s coming up and the like. Well if the Doctor is making an attempt to hide from all his old enemies and remain small time—basically seem like a half heard of myth—what better way to do that then to become what he’s never been before?

If they were going to do this I think that now would be the time to run with it. The story behind it makes sense. The show is finishing it’s fiftieth year and it’s reaching overseas audiences with more ferocity than ever through mediums like Netflix and Blu-Ray and a lot of the fans never saw the old show, so they would probably take to the change better.

And if you’re prepared to leave a show because the gender or race of a character who is very capable of changing those things has changed, that says more about you than the show.

Women in Games

Sexism in video games is one of those topics that we’re not supposed to talk about. When you attempt to you’re met with anything from ignorance (“I don’t know what you’re talking about”), to acceptance (“Well it’s not a game’s job to not be sexist”), to threats of rape and whatever this is (“She needs a good dicking, good luck finding it though” – real comment from You Tube).

Some of this misogynistic abuse came to light when a video entitled Tropes versus Women was being funded on Kickstarter and fueled all of this. The woman who started the project, Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency, describes it in greater detail at the bottom of the page:

“In addition to the torrent of misogyny and hate left on my YouTube video (see below) the intimidation effort has also included repeated vandalizing of the Wikipedia page about me (with porn), organized efforts to flag my YouTube videos as “terrorism”, as well as many threatening messages sent through Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter, email and my own website.  These messages and comments have included everything from the typical sandwich and kitchen “jokes” to threats of violence, death, sexual assault and rape.  All that plus an organized attempt to report this project to Kickstarter and get it banned or defunded.  Thankfully, Kickstarter has been very supportive in helping me deal with the harassment on their service. All my backers have also been amazingly encouraging over on the project page too!”

While I don’t personally agree with all of the points made by Sarkeesian and whether you think that you agree with her points or the project’s funding, which is what some people claim was their problem with it, there’s no reason for the kind of behavior exhibited by these people.

No reason, except that this woman attacked video games and plans to ruin fun for everyone!

In 2013 with an increasingly non-white America with a slightly more progressive outlook (slightly less progressive than it should be) it’s strange to think of the number of times we see balanced characters that are women in leading roles in games. The lack of non-whites in lead roles—even in ensemble casts—is equally strange. When you look at the games and try to find roles where the women aren’t sexualized and the non-whites not stereotyped; this number declines even sharper.

Don’t think for a moment that I think this is just a problem with games. Books, movies and even television have similar issues. The difference is that with games when you discuss it you get things like this:

“I’ve never seen a female fire fighter in my life. And bitches like to bake cake, lick da dick, suck anus, and deepthroat balls.”

And this:

“This is fucking cringe-worthy. I’m all about equality, but this is idiocy. Games are, in general, marketed towards males, as most avoid gamers are, indeed, males. It makes complete sense that in this scenario female roles are over-sexualized, especially from a marketing perspective. Young teens going through puberty will jump all over that shit, and there’s nothing you do to stop them. Just when you think Kickstarter projects couldn’t get any more annoying, the hardcore feminists arrive.”

While the first comment is just random stupidity, the second one is full of misinformation and acceptance. The gaming industry has basically spent much of its entirety shunning women, so shunning them more  makes this idea that women don’t play games seem like a self fulfilling prophecy when more women aren’t playing. Even though women do play games.

This idea that young teens are playing games and that’s it is stupid because much of the gamer market is in it’s late twenties and early thirties. In fact, one of the huge arguments people make against games being childish is the fact that the gaming market is older.

Even if you believed that the games were only going to adolescents and older teens—what makes it okay to indoctrinate them with more of the same unhealthy opinions of women?

When games like Bioshock: Infinite and Last of Us have issues being made because they feature women characters in roles that aren’t sexualized enough it’s clear that we have an issue. But when a developer is told that they can have a female protagonist kiss a male character because it will make the person playing her feel too strange and possibly make them think about something gay it becomes more than just the game industry; it’s cultural. We’re so deeply homophobic and unaccustomed to being put in the shoes of anyone unlike ourselves that acting out that character’s desires on screen is too much for people.

There’s this really common argument against activism (women’s activism, gay activism and racial activism mostly) that every activist is pushing for their own superiority and not equality. That’s certainly not true. Somehow these few people that do push for that sort of thing become considered the norm and the rest of us are grouped with them so that the discussion never really has to take place.

No discussion taking place equates out to meaning there will be no change. Whether the debate is about something less serious about the roles of women in media or things like victim blaming in the cases of rape or even something where it seems no one is willing to have rational discussion like gun control. As long as long as we deflect important topics by claiming that everyone on the other side of the debate is a lunatic we’re only hurting ourselves.