the politics of light and dark are everywhere in our vocabulary…psa to writers: subvert this, reveal whiteness and lightness as sometimes artificial and violent, and darkness as healing, the unknown as natural
Some ideas for bad things that are white/light:
- lightning, very hot fire
- snow storms, ice, frost on crops
- some types of fungus/mold
- corpses, ghosts, bones, a diseased person
- clothing, skin tone, hair, etc. of a bad person
- fur, teeth, eyes of an attacking animal/monster
- bleached out deserts, dead trees, lifeless places
Some ideas for good things that are black/dark:
- rich earth/soil
- chocolate, truffles, wine, cooked meat
- friendly animals/pets/creatures
- a character’s favorite vehicle, technology, coat, etc.
- a pleasant night
- hair, skin tone, clothing, etc. of a good person
- undisturbed water of a lake
- the case/container of something important
- valued wood, furniture, art
Think to burn, to infect, to bleach vs. to enrich, to protect, to be of substance.
seems adamant not to change with the times. Coming under fire for a
lack of diversity, the treatment of female characters, the failure to
deliver films that push the boundaries, The Powers That Be at Marvel
have done the minimal to try and placate fans. But it’s not good enough,
and people are really starting to notice.
Finally an article discussing the true face of Marvel Studios and their executive decisions. No fan pleasing platitudes here, just a pull of the curtain to face some hard truths: They need to do better.
I hate to be that person to comment unnecessarily on a post, but please actually read this article. It absolutely NAILS Marvel and it’s about high time. Please read it, it is infinitely more than worth the time it takes (which is already about two minutes so…)
Everyone needs to read this now.
Wow. Somebody hit the nail on the head. Well said.
“And if you have any doubts by this point it’s actually the Big Boys at
Marvel who are unlikely to support diversity just know that their CEO
recently gave 1 Million to Trump’s campaign for the White House. Yeah…
that’s where our movie ticket money went.” (my emphasis)
Seriously: read this article.
but a romantic, gay relationship between Peggy and her friend Angie was something Marvel recoiled from; Angie was removed, new male love interests were introduced, the plot suffered, fan interest plummeted, and the show went under.
Someone was paying attention to what happened with Agent Carter
I wanted my first-year film students to understand what happens to a story when actual human beings inhabit your characters, and the way they can inspire storytelling. And I wanted to teach them how to look at headshots and what you might be able to tell from a headshot. So for the past few years I’ve done a small experiment with them.Some troubling shit always occurs.
It works like this: I bring in my giant file of head shots, which include actors of all races, sizes, shapes, ages, and experience levels. Each student picks a head shot from the stack and gets a few minutes to sit with the person’s face and then make up a little story about them.
Namely, for white men, they have no trouble coming up with an entire history, job, role, genre, time, place, and costume. They will often identify him without prompting as “the main character.” The only exception? “He would play the gay guy.” For white women, they mostly do not come up with a job (even though it was specifically asked for), and they will identify her by her relationships. “She would play the mom/wife/love interest/best friend.” I’ve heard “She would play the slut” or “She would play the hot girl.” A lot more than once.
For nonwhite men, it can be equally depressing. “He’s in a buddy cop movie, but he’s not the main guy, he’s the partner.” “He’d play a terrorist.” “He’d play a drug dealer.” “A thug.” “A hustler.” “Homeless guy.” One Asian actor was promoted to “villain.”
For nonwhite women (grab onto something sturdy, like a big glass of strong liquor), sometimes they are “lucky” enough to be classified as the girlfriend/love interest/mom, but I have also heard things like “Well, she’d be in a romantic comedy, but as the friend, you know?” “Maid.” “Prostitute.” “Drug addict.”
I should point out that the responses are similar whether the group is all or mostly-white or extremely racially mixed, and all the groups I’ve tried this with have been about equally balanced between men and women, though individual responses vary. Women do a little better with women, and people of color do a little better with people of color, but female students sometimes forget to come up with a job for female actors and black male students sometimes tell the class that their black male actor wouldn’t be the main guy.
Once the students have made their pitches, we interrogate their opinions. “You seem really sure that he’s not the main character – why? What made you automatically say that?” “You said she was a mom. Was she born a mom, or did she maybe do something else with her life before her magic womb opened up and gave her an identity? Who is she as a person?” In the case of the “thug“, it turns out that the student was just reading off his film resume. This brilliant African American actor who regularly brings houses down doing Shakespeare on the stage and more than once made me weep at the beauty and subtlety of his performances, had a list of film credits that just said “Thug #4.” “Gang member.” “Muscle.” Because that’s the film work he can get. Because it puts food on his table.
So, the first time I did this exercise, I didn’t know that it would turn into a lesson on racism, sexism, and every other kind of -ism. I thought it was just about casting. But now I know that casting is never just about casting, and this day is a real teachable opportunity. Because if we do this right, we get to the really awkward silence, where the (now mortified) students try to sink into their chairs. Because, hey, most of them are proud Obama voters! They have been raised by feminist moms! They don’t want to be or see themselves as being racist or sexist. But their own racism and sexism is running amok in the room, and it’s awkward.
This for every time someone criticizes how characters of color and female characters of color especially are treated in text and by subsequent fandoms. It’s never “just a television/movie/book”. It’s never been ”just”.
“…and by subsequent fandoms.“ <— bless this addition.
This one is always worth reblogging.
When I say, “Representation matters,” it’s not just the presence of PoC, women, PwD, LGBTQIA, in narrative, it’s the roles are those characters are occupying.
The hall of mirrors that is the interplay between fiction and real life becomes a negative feedback loop with real consequences, because we internalize things and then we act them out.
Storytelling is a powerful thing. What stories are we telling, and why?
“The authors conducted two experiments which looked at the effect of two different types of motivational intervention – a controlled form (telling people what they should do) and a more personal form (explaining why being non-prejudiced is enjoyable and personally valuable).
In experiment one; participants were randomly assigned one of two brochures to read: an autonomy brochure or a controlling brochure. These brochures discussed a new campus initiative to reduce prejudice. A third group was offered no motivational instructions to reduce prejudice. The authors found that, ironically, those who read the controlling brochure later demonstrated more prejudice than those who had not been urged to reduce prejudice. Those who read the brochure designed to support personal motivation showed less prejudice than those in the other two groups.
In experiment two, participants were randomly assigned a questionnaire, designed to stimulate personal or controlling motivation to reduce prejudice. The authors found that those who were exposed to controlling messages regarding prejudice reduction showed significantly more prejudice than those who did not receive any controlling cues.
The authors suggest that when interventions eliminate people’s freedom to value diversity on their own terms, they may actually be creating hostility toward the targets of prejudice.”
Pretty concise explanation of why I think a lot of SJ tactics work exactly opposite to how they’re intended.
Ooh, neat research!
YES. someone finally did the science.
look, if you want to make the world a better place, don’t spread negativity. even if you are extra angry at crimes, your righteous anger just creates anger in others and you can’t direct their anger. only yours.
so use your anger as fuel instead of a weapon, and spread love instead of pain. instead of being like “bigots should die they are human garbage are you garbage???” be like “look at these wonderful diverse people and how great they are, join me in appreciating their greatness” and you will have much more success!
This is why I say that call-outs which are trying to actually change an individual’s behaviour (as opposed to venting anger at structural inequality – a completely different thing) should be constructive and aimed at the work or action, not the person.
People can’t hear criticism properly when it’s in the form of absolutes and ultimatums and backs them into a corner. It just seems like an attack, and self-protection takes up all their attention, with nothing left over to engage with the actual problem.
The article puts it this way:
‘According to Dr. Legault, “Controlling prejudice reduction practices are
tempting because they are quick and easy to implement. They tell people
how they should think and behave and stress the negative consequences
of failing to think and behave in desirable ways.” Legault continues,
“But people need to feel that they are freely choosing to be
nonprejudiced, rather than having it forced upon them.”’
In fandom, the “controlling practices” are bullying, dogpiling, and name-calling, and other forms of abuse. And it doesn’t work. It might make the people doing it feel better, but it actually makes the problem itself worse for that individual under attack. (Again, when the conversation is not directed at an individual, but rather pointing out a structural problem, a wider-ranging conversation which includes venting can be helpful. That’s not what I’m talking about here.)
Jay Smooth talks about this too, and gives some really useful advice about calling out racism in a way people are more likely to hear. The same technique can be used for sexism and homophobia and other forms of prejudice too.
I have said this before, but I’ll say it again: fannish social justice spaces fall apart and become toxic because they don’t separate therapeutic space from social activist space.
In real world activist circles most movements have two strands – providing therapeutic space, and providing activist space. Of course the two are related, but you can’t have both happening in the same place at the same time.
A therapeutic space is either straight up support groups, or more round about things like community-specific art groups, writers groups, celebrations, performances, readings etc, where a group dealing with the impact of prejudice on their lives can come together to vent their anger and sadness and discuss their experiences. These are safe, affirming environments and, most importantly, people from the privileged class responsible for our trauma (be it straight people or white people or cis people or men or abled people) are generally given little if any access to these spaces. They are not FOR the privileged class, it would be destructive for everyone involved for them to be present. These are the spaces where anger can and should be expressed and heard and validated.
These therapeutic spaces are INCREDIBLY important for building community and helping each of us deal with the constant hum of trauma that occurs when we live in a society that is violently opposed to our very existence.
An activist space, on the other hand, is about looking out into the world and looking at what we can do to effect external change, achieve practical results like law changes – it’s protests and rallies, removing bad people from positions of power, letter writing campaigns, distributing facts and figures to those in power to back up our arguments and yes, going out and educating individuals were it seems like it would be constructive to do so. And sometimes, it’s about being pragmatic about our emotions, putting them aside and addressing someone on their own terms in order to achieve a goal.
Sometimes that means not directing rage and frustration and pain at someone with privilege, even when they deserve it, even when your rage and frustration is completely justified – because that simply won’t help. Instead you have to address them calmly with an argument you know will actually sway them, rather than make them defensive and angry themselves.
Activist spaces sometimes require you to store up that rage and bring it back to a therapeutic space later, where it’s safe to vent, rather than unleashing it on someone when you know that doing so will ultimately harm your cause in the long run.
Unfortunately on tumblr and in a lot of online communities, the two spaces get conflated a LOT. People feel the need – and have the right – to express their rage at a privileged group… but instead of finding a safe space to do it in, they dogpile and ‘call out’ and inevitably (given tumblr’s demographic breakdown) get into arguments between different groups that upset pretty much everyone involved, and continue to do all this cathartic stuff in the name of ‘activism’ because it feels good to finally express personal trauma. And when anyone suggests a slightly more practical approach they get jumped on for ‘silencing’ or ‘invalidating’ someone’s experiences.
Processing trauma by screaming at a fifteen year old who said something transphobic is not ‘activism’, it’s you trying to work out personal trauma in the wrong space. Similarly commenting on a piece of fanwork that someone created as an expression of their identity or to work through an experience they’ve had, and telling them that it’s ‘problemtic’ because it’s not wholly accurate to x,y, and z and trying to ‘correct’ their artwork is not activism, it’s interrupting someone’s therapy.
The very nature of tumblr and most social media platforms right now make it difficult to disentangle these spaces online – there are no moderators or separate forums or LJ communities with specific guidelines for subject matter. But until we do, it’ll be almost impossible to have truly constructive social justice movements on these platforms.
Okay, but the first HP book came out in 1997. That was almost twenty years ago. No, JKR was not fully aware of her white/straight/cis privilege at that time. She has had 20 years to get better. She also wrote the first draft on table napkins while working as a single mother of multiple children and receiving public support.
We are allowed to retrospectively critique her lack of inclusivity. We are also allowed to think that perhaps her awareness of the lack of said inclusivity has improved.
Just as a goddamn FOR EXAMPLE, in 1997, if Rowling had tried to pitch Dumbledore, a school headmaster, as openly homosexual, her book would never have been published. Want some evidence? I can do that.
Regulations were introduced for discrimination protections on sexual orientation in employment on 1 December 2003, following the adoption of an EC Directive in 2000, providing for the prohibition of discrimination in employment on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Right, so he (Dumbledore) could have been fired for being gay at any point prior to 2000, even assuming Wizarding law was keeping up with Muggle law, which is a goddamn stretch considering how shoddy trials and evidence are maintained throughout Auror procedurals.
And, regarding “she could have made more students of color in the first place,” um:
The Race Relations Act 1965 outlawed public discrimination, and established the Race Relations Board. Further Acts in 1968 and 1976 outlawed discrimination in employment, housing and social services, and replaced the Race Relations Board with Commission for Racial Equality that merged into the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2004. The Human Rights Act 1998 made organisations in Britain, including public authorities, subject to theEuropean Convention on Human Rights. The Race Relations Act 2000 extends existing legislation for the public sector to the police force, and requires public authorities to promote equality.
After 2000, some argued that racism remains common, and some politicians and public figures have been accused of promoting racist attitudes in the media, particularly with regard to immigration, however race and immigration although related are not the same concepts. There have been growing concerns in recent years about institutional racism in public and private bodies. Although various anti-discrimination laws do exist, according to some sources, most employers in the UK remain institutionally racist including public bodies such as the police and the legal professions.
I’m not saying “JKR has always been conscious of her White Privilege.” I’m not saying “she intended this from the start.” I’m saying, she started this fucking series when she was 25, she got it published when she was 32, and she is now fifty and has millions of dollars, resources, and feedback.
Hey, check it out: she’s had twenty-five years to learn.
Jo Rowling is a white British woman with a Bachelor of Arts in
French and Classics from the University of Exeter. It may very well have taken her this much time and this much exposure to the greater, wider world- outside her very white, very British influences in Tolkien and Dickens– to realize, “Oh, shit, I could/should have made my books more diverse, that’s such a lovely idea, my fans are so wonderful, I love their headcanons, they have taught me so much, I’m really lucky to have learned all of this.”
We want people to grow, don’t we? We want them to expand their minds and change. So can we please stop hating on people who weren’t born into the movement for finding it later?
If you thought Donald Trump would backtrack on his Muslim database requirements, guess again. His response to if Muslims would be legally required to join the database is horrifying.