idk, the more i think about it the more i think “girls” might be the perfectly zeitgeisty thing for 2012, you know, like, young [white] [in brackets because you know, heaven forbid we talk about that fact?] tweet-capable millenials who were always told they were special snowflakes because AMERICA etc and then they suddenly find their degree from xyz college wasn’t enough and now they are fraught and stranded and over educated and overly witty and urban outfittersy and wanting to feel something real you know because capitalism and isolation and yeah, i absolutely get it, and yes, i’ve paid too much for an education that will probably not pay me back and yes i shop from modcloth
but that still doesn’t make “girls” my people and it still doesn’t make it stomachable to sit through yet another production of concerns so absolutely unconcerned with any other person’s type of reality and, even worse, it still doesn’t make it “a total accident” that they’re all white, and being aware that you’re a narcissistic privileged class of people doesn’t make your ironic self-proclaiming not gross as hell.
i just feel like “girls” is trying to wink at me and i don’t want to wink back.
Sometimes I hear people say that racism/sexism/etc in culture isn’t important or worth criticizing. ”Oh it’s just a book,” they say. ”It’s just a crappy TV show.” ”It’s just a commercial.”
This argument always baffles me. It’s like if you put poison into a fish-tank and then say “Oh well I didn’t poison the fish, I just poisoned the water.” The fish lives in the water, dumbass; it’s completely submerged in and surrounded by the water. I’m pretty sure that poisoned water is going to affect the fish.
Similarly, we all live constantly immersed in this miasma of information that we call “culture.” People are not born prejudiced. We don’t emerge from the womb knowing that all black men are scary thugs, that all Latinas are spicy sexpots, that all Indians are violent savages, that all women are weepy and frail, that all gay men are depraved pedophiles, and that all people in wheelchairs are objects of pity. We learn these things, usually starting at a very young age, and we often learn them from our culture — the books we read, the movies we watch, and the constant barrage of advertising that we don’t really pay attention to but which still manages to seep into our brains, and which shapes the way we think about the world, for better or for worse.
If you want to save the fish, you need to purify the water.
But the decision to alter the storyline with Peeta’s leg really troubles me because of what it symbolises. Peeta becomes a prominently disabled character in the series, and his disability becomes part of his experiences. At the same time though, he’s not defined by the disability, consumed by it, and placed in the narrative for the sole purpose of constantly reminding everyone that he’s disabled. Peeta, like other characters, is scarred by the world he lives in, and he bears a visible mark of the cruelty and brutality of Panem, but more importantly, he’s another person trying to survive and build a better world. By neatly cutting that entire plotline away, the filmmakers avoided some tangled and thorny issues.
Like the fact that Peeta is supposed to be a love interest. I can’t help but feel one of the reasons the amputation storyline was taken out was because the filmmakers don’t think amputees can be love interests, or think that the reality of the amputation might be offputting to audiences who wouldn’t be able to identify with the characters if Katniss fell in love with a disabled Peeta, because that sort of thing Isn’t Done. Furthermore, obviously no amputees engage with media and pop culture and certainly don’t want to see versions of themselves on screen, so that angle didn’t need to be considered when preparing the film adaptation.
They probably also feared the idea of a character who happens to be disabled; they couldn’t let him get fitted for a prosthesis and get on with his life. They would have felt compelled to wrap up some kind of special story in it, even though that’s not necessary. Riding right over that storyline can be justified by saying they don’t have time to do it, with all the other things that need to be included. Just like they didn’t have time to view actresses of colour and nonwhite actresses while they were making decisions about the casting of Katniss. Making movies is very busy work, people.
And, of course, Peeta doesn’t comply with narratives above disability. His withdrawal and depression at the beginning of the second book are more about his emotional state over Katniss, rather than his leg. As a character, he’s physically active as well as politically defiant, once he begins to grow into himself. This isn’t what amputees are ‘supposed’ to do in pop culture, and thus it’s a narrative that makes people uncomfortable, and one that the filmmakers evidently simply didn’t want to deal with.
I could be wrong; perhaps in the next film we will learn that infection set in and they took the leg. But I doubt it, highly, because this doesn’t seem to be in character with way Hollywood works, where disability is erased when it doesn’t serve a greater narrative or actively defies tropes. Peeta cannot be allowed to be disabled.
“I loved The Hunger Games when I devoured the trilogy in a week (the first book, in a day). As a woman of color (brown, not olive skinned) who grew up in a third world country, the idea of being a revolutionary hero in the world of YA seemed to speak to my childish self. When I found out it was going to be made into a movie, I was so excited to see who would be cast to play my black-haired, olive-skinned heroine. This week, Jezebel reported that Jennifer Lawrence may be cast in the lead: she is most decidedly not the black-haired, olive-skinned woman of color I imagined kicking butt as the Girl on Fire. Jezebel bases its argument that casting should include non-Caucasians on explicit descriptions of characters in the book, and not on the omissions or the overall metaphor that I found to be the most compelling argument for why Katniss is not white. In short, the entire metaphor that runs through the book about oppression, hunger, and excess is meaningless if none of the main characters are people of color.”
(click to read the rest)
This is a great article for a number of reasons, but I feel like it also has one massive flaw: it gives Suzanne Collins entirely too much credit.
An author who says —
“[Katniss and Gale] were not particularly intended to be biracial. It is a time period where hundreds of years have passed from now. There’s been a lot of ethnic mixing. But I think I describe them as having dark hair, grey eyes, and sort of olive skin. You know, we have hair and makeup.” (*)
— is one who never truly intended for her protagonist to be considered a WoC. I mean, I’m personally going to keep thinking of Katniss as such because, you know, fuck authorial intent, but I don’t think Collins should get credit for nebulously defining the character’s ethnicity. (Although that’s conflicting because I would actually hate the ending of the series even more if Katniss were a WoC. **Slight spoilers ahead** Like, Collins throws everything under the bus in favor of driving home her anti-war message, including Katniss’s agency and sense of being, and doesn’t even bother delving into specific ramifications of the revolution after it’s over ugh what are your authorial priorities even. So to me, Katniss doesn’t come off as an inspiration to real-life revolutionaries so much as a warning that you stand to lose everything by railing against oppression and, even after rebelling, things will suck only marginally less.)
You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.
Aaron Freeman “You Want A Physicist To Speak at your Funeral” (source: npr)
This is one of the most lovely and comforting things I’ve ever read or heard about death and grieving, and I have been to more funerals than I can remember.
Can we please stop using “symbolism” as a catch-all apology for offensive things as if because something is ‘symbolic’ that absolves it of all problematic subtext — as if it is not the very symbolism itself which is making it problematic? Like. Not only did Florence + the Machine’s “No Light, No Light” video contain a man in blackface (already appropriative, tokenistic, and offensive) but he was symbolic of evil and a threat to Florence; his ‘voodoo’ was explicitly contrasted with Christianity, Florence’s salvation. This is the symbolism you’re invoking to try to absolve “No Light, No Light” of racism and it is explicitly racist symbolism. There is no deeper level on which this video is not racist. People who see the racism are not being too stupid to see past the racism to its ~intellectual and totally not-racist core. They’re seeing its core. Its core is, like, literally made of racism.
Memo to everyone in the entertainment and fashion industries:
BLACKFACE ISN’T OKAY. KNOCK THAT SHIT OFF. IT’S STRAIGHT-UP RACIST, APPROPRIATIVE AND OFFENSIVE. WHY THE FUCK IS THIS CONTINUING TO BE A ‘THING’ IN THE 21ST GODDAMNED CENTURY?
You know who used to think blackface was awesome? The same kind of people who thought lynching was just a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. That’s who you’re aligning yourself with when you engage in these wrong-headed attempts to be ‘edgy’ or ‘controversial’ or ‘funny’ or WTFever or when you defend it as a valid artistic choice - people who thought it was okay to hang people simply because of the color of their skin. And no, no, no it’s not an excuse that Florence + the Machine aren’t American/from the United States. If you’re going to use that kind of hurtful and offensive imagery to make some kind of point, then at a bare minimum you need to educate yourself about why it’s considered hurtful and offensive. The fact that they might be ignorant of it because of a cultural divide doesn’t absolve them of the offensiveness. It means they’re thoughtless, but it doesn’t make them not culpable in perpetuating racist imagery. And if you’re going to go ahead and do something like this - or defend it - because you either (a) don’t know why it’s offensive and racist or (b) don’t care, then you need to suck it up and accept it when people explain to you why it is. And if you want people to not think you’re an asshole over it, you also need to be ready to apologize.
Wellll I’ve been avoiding tumblr because I got behind in backreading and everything just feels overwhelming but I have to do a driveby post to complain about last week’s episode of The Good Wife which I just caught up on
like, as a standalone maybe it wouldn’t be terrible? But this is literally the fourth or fifth time they’ve had a “racism doesn’t really exist, believing in racism lands you supporting injustice against white people and/or with egg on your face” plot and I just…they seem to think this is profound, subversive writing or something, like they’re proving something meaningful or clever or NEW and these plots are so meticulous and purposeful in their racialized message and it’s SO GROSS. I started this post before this week’s episode, which I’ve now watched, and I am glad they are keeping Imani around for real and giving her a continued role, but the way she was introduced, to criticize racism in sentencing in an episode where the white guy they were sentencing more harshly was not only innocent but A BLACK MAN DID IT AND FALSELY ACCUSED HIM TO COVER IT UP, just kind of really stunned me, and I’m not sure they can really ever come back from that. (Add on top of that Diane’s noble white lady beneficence with legal aid, which would have moved me any other episode but in this one it was really like: see! See! The white people are ON YOUR SIDE! They care about you and are not racist! Stop pointing fingers or they won’t save you!!)
They have had not one plot where racism against people of color is a real, existent, SYSTEMIC thing that hurts real, existent people in deeply rooted, patterned ways; even Diane’s Tea Party boyfriend is presented as sympathetic and TOTALLY NOT RACIST OMG, but we never ever see the impact of Tea Party politics or interpersonal interactions on people of color. When it comes to conversations about race, people of color exist in the show either as mouthpieces for colorblindness, or to be foils for colorblindness (and/or the show’s fixation with reverse racism, just lovely). White people exist to be right. And colorblind. And not racist. And the center of every story.
I still love Kalinda to pieces. Her face when Eli asked her about Alicia, it tore my heart out. There is so much about this show’s writing that is just…really solid? Fun to watch, if it existed in a vacuum? But I’m so tired of this. I would like Imani to get facetime as more than a prop, I would like the rich white lawyers to BE WRONG ABOUT RACE more often than they are right, to not be shown as collectively possessing the neutral, true, accurate, default pov - a pov that occasionally needs to get in touch with its ethics, yes, but those ethics are totally there and totally default-good - all the time. Ugh I would like for this show to STOP DOING RACE-RELATED PLOTS because it does them so terribly! The Good Wife would be a super white show no matter what (nice if they actually wrote their narrative in the colorblind way they claim the world is set up, nice if Julius ever showed up these days other than when they need a black mouthpiece for white views), but their reverse racism/colorblindness-proving agenda is actively, conspicuously harmful, and it’s all presented so smugly, so self-righteously, and I HATE IT SO MUCH.
This is such a ramble pointless post etc but seriously what are they doing? My housemate and I were talking about how their Show Agendas seem to be 1) writing complex (mostly white) women with agency 2) proving reverse racism exists. How noble.
Evolution, rape, ovulation, and how to get your opinions labeled “Science.” | Holly, The Pervocracy
THANK YOU for so perfectly articulating why the current use of the phrase “politically correct” drives my ass up the fucking wall!
Seriously, if you’re a white actress — even if you’re a very talented white actress! — and you read about a part that is possibly complex, intriguing, and challenging, and it’s specifically written for a nonwhite actress, your first reaction shouldn’t be to take it for yourself. That’s called unexamined privilege. Check it, for fuck’s sake. Or maybe read the statistics on how many major supporting roles (to say nothing of lead roles) are doled out to nonwhite actresses in heavily publicized films like this one. Hint: it’s not a lot.