Quote of the Day: Gabriel Orozco

Gabriel Orozco (born April 27, 1962) is a Mexican artist, born in Jalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, and educated at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas between 1981 and 1984 and at the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid between 1986 and 1987. Orozco gained his reputation in the early 1990s with his exploration of drawing, photography, sculpture and installation. In 1998 Francesco Bonami called him “one of the most influential artists of this decade, and probably the next one too. (text via Wiki; image via Frostys Web Gallery)

“The process of living and the process of thinking and perceiving the world happen in everyday life. I’ve found that sometimes the studio is an isolated place, an artificial place like a bubble – a bubble in which the artist is by himself, thinking about himself. It becomes too grand a space. What happens when you don’t have a studio is that you have to be confronted with reality all the time. “

(source)

This quote resonates with me even though I’m not an artist (in a traditional sense, I suppose).  To me, the bubble he speaks of can be a metaphorical  or literal place where we humans can escape to for release of some sort. Maybe to escape the problems in the world, or perhaps simply a place that we go to that brings us joy or serenity.  For me, such a place (at one time) was the dance floor. I used to go to gay bars multiple times a week, and I loved taking trips out of town and finding new clubs.  Anytime I heard a song that moved me, I could be on the dance floor in no time.  I take some measure of pride in the fact that I can dance. My dance style was influenced by the choreographers of various US pop artists over the last few decades. I’ve bought multiple music videos and sat for hours mimicking dance moves and incorporating them into my own style.  On a dance floor I tend to freestyle dance, so I prefer a little bit of space (the length of both arms outstretched). When I have the room, and the music is good, I can escape from the world, and just let the music flow through me and the rhythm move me (I’ll never forget my mother teaching me as a child how to find the rhythm in music-I’m grateful for that).  I remember times when I’d dance for 2 hours at a time (my favorite music to dance to is House), taking a break only to get water.  Many a time, I’ve been one of the only people on the dance floor and developed an audience.  Even though I don’t dance for others, it is a compliment to have people approach me to tell me they enjoyed watching me move. It has been some time since I’ve danced, as these last few years have been rough. I hope to re-enter my bubble again in the future and dance my cares away and push my worries off for another day.

Quote of the Day: Gabriel Orozco
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Quote of the day- Chief Si'ahl (Seattle)

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”

Chief Si’ahl (Seattle) is a famous 19th century American Indian chief of the Duwamish Tribe whose tribal ancestral homelands include the area known today as the City of Seattle, state of Washington, in North America of the U.S.A.

In fact, the City of Seattle was named after Chief Seattle.

Historically, Chief Seattle was a greatly respected leader among the tribes — a devoted ecologist — who pursued a path of mutual respect and cooperation with the white settlers.

(source)

Quote of the day- Chief Si'ahl (Seattle)

Quote of the day- Chief Si’ahl (Seattle)

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”

Chief Si’ahl (Seattle) is a famous 19th century American Indian chief of the Duwamish Tribe whose tribal ancestral homelands include the area known today as the City of Seattle, state of Washington, in North America of the U.S.A.

In fact, the City of Seattle was named after Chief Seattle.

Historically, Chief Seattle was a greatly respected leader among the tribes — a devoted ecologist — who pursued a path of mutual respect and cooperation with the white settlers.

(source)

Quote of the day- Chief Si’ahl (Seattle)

Pop Culture News

The Curious Case of WESLEY SNIPES and a BLADE 4 Rumor

 

In what appears to be an old school tabloid gossip column on NYDailyNews.com called “[email protected],” the News reports that “sources close” to actor Wesley Snipes say it’s “looking good” that he’ll close a $3m (“plus a cut of the profits”) deal to reprise his role as Marvel’s vampiric ‘daywalker’ in a Blade sequel.  

The rumor, buried in the middle of the column and not headlined, has been picked up by a few outlets, including MSN, with little qualification. And qualification is likely wise, because there appear to be significant issues with the story. First and foremost of course, is that Marvel Studios reportedly now owns the film rights to Blade, not New Line who made the first three films.  

In May 2013, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige told Entertainment Weekly about getting the rights to Ghost Rider, Blade, and Daredevil back, “Whenever a character comes back to us, it’s usually because the other studios don’t want to make the movies anymore – and that usually means the [previous] movies may not have been particularly well-received. They all have potential, but we’re not going to say ‘We got it back – make it.’”  

 

I would be quite happy to see another Blade movie, especially with Wesley Snipes back in the role.  My secret hope is that Marvel will continue the continuity of the first two movies, but ditch the third (not a fan of Trinity).  


Rila Fukushima the New KATANA in ARROW

There’s a changing of the guard going on at Arrow, as one of Oliver Queen’s possible trainers and allies, Tatsu “Katana” Yamashiro has a new actress. Devon Aoki is out due to an ambiguous “scheduling conflict,” and Rila Fukushima is in.

You may remember Fukushima from 2013’s The Wolverine, where she played another brash lone warrior’s ally. As Yukio she wielded, appropriately enough, a deadly katana, and in her first scene showed off her skills with her sword named “Separator.”

Rila Fukushima as Yukio in 2013s ‘The Wolverine’ which I just realized I haven’t seen yet. Someone take away my comic book geek card.

I applaud this move as it shows an attempt at greater diversity on the small screen.

Katana is a DC comics superheroine who is often associated with the Outsiders (a superhero group founded-depending on what continuity is under discussion-by Batman).  

 


 

How Does Your Favorite Star Trek Series Fare on the Bechdel Test?

A little over a year ago, with the help of a few other Trekkies I met through Tumblr, I took on a huge but super-fun project: running each and every live-action Star Trek episode—from The Original Series through Enterprise—through the Bechdel Test. In case you’re not quite up to speed, the Bechdel Test started as a tongue-in-cheek commentary by Alison Bechdel on the state of mainstream media in her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. In order for a movie to pass:

  • There must be at least two (named) women characters;
  • Who talk to each other;
  • About something other than a man.

It’s not a test of whether or not a movie is feminist (Star Trek [2009] only passes because Uhura and her roommate Gaila talk about a science project while Kirk is hiding under their bed secretly watching Uhura change). But if a show or movie can’t even meet this extremely basic standard, it can indicate a lack of women characters and/or that the ones who are there might be tokenized, stereotyped, or one-dimensional.

I knew the Trek movies didn’t stack up very well, but no one had tested the episodes. Trek still has a huge place in our culture, impressive fan series are coming out all the time, we’re expecting another movie in 2016, and the rumors that we might one day get another series persist. So it’s important to figure out what worked and what could’ve been improved in terms of representations of women and other underrepresented groups. The future society portrayed in Star Trek was supposed to show greater equality for women (as well as people of color, although it seriously overlooked LGBT characters). But inequality behind the scenes, as well as trying to market a show based on conventional wisdom about what modern audiences want (more catsuits, maybe?), created tensions with that egalitarian vision.

 

Check out the results. They may surprise you.

 

 


 

 

Large-Scale Hack Lands Stolen Nude Photos Of Jennifer Lawrence & Other Celebrities Online

Read the whole thing.  And remember, if you come across any of those images, don’t look at them. None of the people who’s images were leaked consented and whoever leaked those photos committed a massive violation of privacy.  Please do not add to that violation by being one of those people.

 

 


 

 

Which Wonder Woman Will We See In Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice? The Comics Choices

Which one indeed?

The version I want to see is the compassionate diplomatic warrior that would prefer non-violent means of conflict resolution (while recognizing the need to engage in battle and, depending on the severity of the threat, the use of lethal force).

Here’s hoping.

Pop Culture News

There is something wrong with this picture

In a story from earlier this year, 41 year old Stacey Conner and her husband gave back their adopted Haitian son because, among other things, she found she just didn’t like him.  Yes, you read that right:  the child was adopted, then given back.  As if he were an unwanted pet.  

Stacey Conner, a 41-year-old mom and former attorney from Spokane, Wash., dreamed of having a large family with biological and adopted kids. “The world is a big place with a lot of children in it; we wanted to bring some of those into our family, to give our love to kids without it,” she says. After she volunteered in an orphanage in poverty-torn Haiti in 2005, Conner and her husband, Matt, a pharmacist, decided to adopt two children. But the process was so slow that by October 2006, when they brought home their (unrelated) 5-year-old Haitian son and 1-year-old Haitian daughter, Conner had given birth to a son, who was 1. “Having an instant multicultural family was magical,” Conner says, “for about two weeks.”

If you’re anything like me, you probably cringed at that last sentence.  I don’t know Conner, so I can’t speak to her or her husband’s motivations in adopting children.  That said, I really don’t think so we can have a multicultural family is a reasonable motivation for adoption.  Why?  This is a child’s life we’re talking about.  Not a new pet.  This child has an existence that is far more valuable than a desire for a “multicultural family”, but that “reason” ignores the needs of the child.  In fact, it ignores the child altogether, in favor of appearance.  From the outside, it looks like the Conner’s wanted a Haitian child to make their family look better, rather than because they wanted to help make the life of a child better. When things got tough though, the Conner’s decided to give back their newly adopted child:

Her older son, whom she calls J here, “engaged every person he met — he literally crawled into the laps of strangers,” says Conner. “But if I said ‘It’s time to go’ or anything that asserted I was in control, he’d rage, bang and scream for hours.” Very quickly, Conner had a sinking feeling she tried to push away. “I was committing the worst maternal sin: I felt like I loved one child less than the others.”

She broke down in front of her husband, who worked all day and hadn’t witnessed the worst of J’s behavior. Matt tried to reassure her that it was just a rough transition and started spending more one-on-one time with J after work. But things didn’t get any better, and by early spring, J had escalated from pinching his siblings to hitting them. Aside from her social worker, Conner met with a therapist specializing in attachment disorder, a broad term used to describe an inability to build meaningful bonds. One form of the disorder can develop when a small child feels repeatedly abandoned or powerless — things it’s not hard to imagine a kid in an orphanage might experience. When Conner got pregnant again, the therapist explained that it was too much to expect a boy who had already been through so much to be a responsible older brother, and that ideally J needed to be either the only child or the youngest in a family. “I felt like the expert was telling me that since I had babies, it would be best to find J another home,” says Conner. But as difficult as the situation was, she shrank from that possibility, saying, “Forget it. He’s my son!”

Instead, she tried an earlier suggestion from the social worker, doing “24-hour eyes-on parenting” — basically, not letting J out of her sight. This went on for two months, until one afternoon when J began throwing a ball at the ceiling. “I said no,” Conner recalls, “but he wouldn’t stop. So I took it away.” J went into a wild, screaming tantrum, unintentionally hitting Conner’s nose with the back of his head: “I was bleeding heavily, sitting on the rug, crying. My two little ones were hiding behind a chair, crying. And it hit me: This is a domestic violence situation; if their dad had done this, I would take our children somewhere safe.

At that instant, Conner faced a hard truth: “Forget love. Right then, I didn’t evenlike J,” she says. “In his short little life, he’d had a ton of loss. But it was clear to me that I was pushing him away to keep the smaller children safe. I couldn’t handle the idea of them being hurt. I could see that always putting the other kids’ safety above meeting J’s needs was creating a barrier between us. It was a painful situation.”

That night, she told Matt she thought they should find a new home for J: “We cried and cried. But he trusted my judgment.”

Conner began working with an adoption agency that did “secondary placements” — relocating kids when adoptions went awry — searching for a home where J would be the only or youngest child. “He had to be the sole focus, to be attended to and soothed,” she says.

 

I find it offensive that she labelled the actions of a child as domestic violence.  As far as I’m aware, domestic violence is a pattern of abuse committed by adults.  Domestic violence is a serious problem, and should not be trivialized.  Treating the lashing out of a 5 year old child who doesn’t understand what they’re doing, nor cause and effect, as an example of domestic violence does just that.  This also brings up another question:  what are the Conner’s going to do if any of their biological children lash out?  It isn’t uncommon for a child to hit-on accident or on purpose-a parent.  If one of their biological children hits one of them, will they also claim that was domestic violence? Will they put that child up for adoption?  Or will they work with the child and continue loving them?  Will they continue to nurture that child and support them?  I’m inclined to think they will.  They might spank the child (though I hope not, as violence doesn’t solve a damned thing, and yes, spanking IS violence).  They might put the child in time out. They might try reasoning with the child. They might do all three, or none of them. They might try something else.  In the end though, they’re likely to try to get their child to not act in ways that bring harm to other family members.  They didn’t treat J like that though. They treated J like an outsider.  They did not treat him as one of the family.  So why did they adopt him again?

 

There is something wrong with this picture

Donald Glover gets to be Spider-Man…sort of

Once upon a time, actor Donald Glover wanted to be Spider-Man

In May 2010, a fan suggested Glover for the role of Peter Parker in the then-upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man film, encouraging his supporters to retweet the hashtag “#donald4spiderman”. The campaign, originally started to see how far social networking could carry a message, quickly gained a large following. The call for Glover to be allowed to audition for the role was supported by Spider-Man creator Stan Lee.  Comics writer Brian Michael Bendis, who announced an African-American version of Spider-Man a year later, said he had conceived of the character before Glover’s campaign went viral.  Bendis gave credit to Glover for influencing the new hero’s looks; on seeing him dressed as Spider-Man on Community (a nod to the campaign) Bendis said, “I saw him in the costume and thought, ‘I would like to read that book.’

 

People.

Lost.

Their.

Shit.

Of course, Glover didn’t get the role (it went to Andrew Garfield).  The thing is:  there’s nothing wrong with the idea of Spider-Man being a black man.  The core of who Spidey is:  extremely smart, socially awkward kid from a lower socioeconomic background, raised by his aunt and uncle, learns, after a personal tragedy that “with great power comes great responsibility”.  There’s nothing in the core of who Spidey is that says “gotta be a white guy”.  He was created white because it was the 1960s (well that, plus the pervasive racism in society that says white is the default).  Today, however (or 2010), people have become more aware of our multicultural society.  People from various ethnic, socioeconomic, religious, sexual, gender, and racial backgrounds have spoken up and want to be represented in all walks of life, including comic books (and comic book movies).  The readership of comics and the viewership of movies is made up of more than white people.  Comic book companies and movie studios have started to realize this and market accordingly, but there’s a lot of ignoring of minorities to overcome before things are more equal (personally I can’t wait to see Michael B Jordan as the Human Torch in next years Fantastic Four).

Donald Glover did get his wish…after a fashion.  He’s going to be voicing Ultimate Spider-Man on the animated Disney XD series Ultimate Spider-Man:

Donald Glover, the “Community” veteran who inspired Brian Michael Bendis in 2011 to introduce Miles Morales as the new Spider-Man of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, is finally getting his chance to play the superhero.

USA Today reports the actor will voice the character next year in an episode of Disney XD’s animated “Ultimate Spider-Man,” which in its upcoming third season carries the subtitle “Web Warriors.” In the “Spider-Verse” story arc, a dimension-hopping Peter Parker (voiced by Drake Bell) tries to prevent the Green Goblin from collecting the DNA of Spider-Men from parallel universes, including Iron Spider, Spider-Man 2099, the Amazing Spider-Girl and Miles Morales.

While this is only a version of Spidey on an animated tv series, it should be noted that 30 years ago, the thought of seeing any version of Spidey who was not white would have been darn near unthinkable. 

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Donald Glover gets to be Spider-Man…sort of

LGBT news

From Empathize This comes a reminder that bisexual people are often treated poorly or even erased in LGBT spaces.

This is not acceptable.  I admit, with a great deal of shame, that in years past, I engaged in similar behavior. I treated bisexual people poorly.  I felt they were trying to “have their cake and eat it too”. Sometimes I thought they just couldn’t make up their mind.  In the last 4-5 years, I’ve come to examine many of my biases and prejudices.  It hasn’t been easy, but I think I’ve become a better person for it.  This doesn’t mean I’ve rid myself of every bias that I have, but I do try to engage in self-reflection and reexamine my opinions and views when challenged.  So when I came to rethink my beliefs about people who are bisexual-which came when I actually listened to people who were bisexual and stopped talking over them/down to them-I realized that their lives and their experiences are valid and valuable.  I realized that I can’t expect others to respect my dignity and right to exist as I choose if I don’t extend the same respect and courtesy to others.  Once I realized that, I felt…well I felt pretty shitty.  There is no excuse for my behavior.  I can’t make up for what I’ve done in the past, but I can damn sure not repeat those actions in the future. Moreover, I can speak out about how such behavior is shitty.  Bisexual people are not trying to have it both ways. They are not trying to have their cake and eat it too. They are not “undecided”.  Their experiences are their own, and they are every bit as valid as mine or anyone else’s.  I refuse to engage in the behavior I once did, and I ask everyone to check themselves…to examine their beliefs and biases and give thought to the harm those beliefs could bring to others.

(via Feminist Batwoman)

Russian gay couple marries in the most fierce way possible through loophole:

Two brides have become two of the most kickass women in the world by marrying to protest against homophobia in Russia.

Alina Davis, a 23-year-old trans woman, and Allison Brooks, her 19-year-old partner, donned matching white floor-length bridal gowns and married at a civil registry office earlier this month.

As Davis is still legally regarded as male, the office had no choice but to hand them a marriage certificate.

It is unfortunate that the government of Russia will not allow all consenting adults to marry regardless of gender or sexuality.   I hope the day comes where this will be the case.  Everyone deserves the opportunity to marry without the state dictating the terms (obviously this applies to consenting adults only).  I wish the couple a long and happy life together.

Iranian Muslim lesbians marry in religious ceremony in Sweden:

Iranian Muslim women Sahar Mosleh and Maryam Iranfar married in Stockholm on 2 August during the city’s annual LGBTI pride festival – perhaps the first Iranian women to marry each other in a religious ceremony in the world, and the first in Sweden.

The couple married in a ceremony performed by Algerian born South African based Imam Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed who was in Stockholm as the festival’s nominated Imam.

Oh noes! It’s ‘ArmaGAYddon’!!!! Run for the hills! It’s the end of civilization as we know it.  Not really.  Unless you’re a bigot who thinks marriage equality is going to somehow be the downfall of society.  Which makes me wonder what the time table is on that.  Massachusetts has had same sex marriage for how long now-runs off to check…over 10 years now-and somehow their state hasn’t fallen into chaos and disarray.  Maybe The Gay takes a little time to set in.  Perhaps it creeps up on you little by little and before you know it BAM! You’re just like the couple in this hilarious horror movie parody:

I just realized that the commentary above could apply to the video or the story about the lesbian couple above it.  That wasn’t intentional, but it was neat.

LGBT news

Comic books as a reflection of the world today

Andrew Wheeler is a writer for Comics Alliance, and he also has his own Tumblr. I came across his answer to a question posed by one of his followers:

gpack3 said: What do you think would be the best way to introduce a trans superhero? Introduce them first and then reveal they’re trans after the audience is used to them? Introduce them as trans from the beginning? Have them transition on panel? Take a preexisting character whose past is something of a blank slate (eg. Eye-Boy) and make them trans?
I’d love to hear from trans people about what they’d like to see in a trans superhero, because I’m sure they have sensitivities that I don’t have, and I’m sure they’re aware of cliches and pitfalls that I’m not aware of.

 

To answer from my perspective as a gay man who does not identify as trans, I would tentatively draw a parallel to what I always want to see in gay heroes. Namely; I don’t want to always have to see gay people struggling and suffering with their identities. I want to see gay heroes who are at peace with their identities, and who face the same problems as other heroes, because that’s a much more hopeful and inclusive message.

So I’d most like to see a trans superhero who is totally at peace with their identity, and whose identity is very quickly and unambiguously established to the audience. That seems like the most positive way to represent trans people in superhero fiction.

That said, coming out stories and self-acceptance stories are hugely important – especially if they come from people who can make those stories personal. I’d love to read a story about a superhero transitioning, but I’d like to read it from a trans writer.

Either way, I think establishing or reintroducing an established character as trans would be most useful given how difficult it is to establish new characters in superhero comics. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, my personal choice would be to reintroduce Christian Frost as a trans woman whose transition allows her to access her mutant powers for the first time – and whose transition is celebrated by her sister Emma.

Christian was previously written as a gay man with severe depression. I don’t think it would be implausible to re-imagine the character as a trans woman. But I may be stepping into cliches that I’m not aware of.

(As a final note, I should acknowledge that when I say I don’t want to always have to see gay people struggling and suffering with their identities in fiction, my own Sacha Valentin in Valentin & The Widow is exactly that sort of character. But I am at least a gay man writing from personal experience, and Sacha also gets to travel the world punching evildoers.)

I worry that a non trans writer would wind up doing some stupid or offensive shit, so perhaps, as Wheeler says, it would be better for a trans writer to create such a story.
But then I’m reminded that Gail Simone created a trans character as Barbara Gordon’s roommate in Batgirl and that character has been, IIRC, well received. Her name is Alysia Yeoh:

States like Arizona are currently spending taxpayer’s money trying to legalize trans discrimination, and others like Idaho are arresting and citing trans patrons from using public restrooms that don’t match their birth sex.

As this kind of discrimination continues to reach bizarre new heights, there’s one place where trans acceptance seems ready to take hold—in the hallowed halls of geekdom known as DC Comics. This week, the comic book giant published Batgirl #19, featuring a storyline involving the first ongoing, trans-identifying character in a mainstream superhero book.
Wired reports that in the latest Batgirl edition, the character Alysia Yeoh reveals to her roommate, Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl), that she is a trans woman. In addition, Alysia is also bisexual.

Author Gail Simone tells Wired that the impetus to include a trans character came from a pretty obvious source of inspiration—her fans. And building out a world as diverse as they are is her ultimate goal.

“It’s the issue for superhero comics. Look, we have a problem most media don’t have, which is that almost all the tentpoles we build our industry upon were created over a half century ago…at a time where the characters were almost without exception white, cis-gendered, straight, on and on,” she said.

“It’s fine—it’s great that people love those characters. But if we only build around them, then we look like an episode of The Andy Griffith Show for all eternity.”

I really like that last line from Simone. She wants to help build fictional worlds that reflect the world we live in today, rather than the world of 75 years ago.

Comic books as a reflection of the world today

The Diversity Unicorn

Growing up, the first superhero I loved was Spider-Man.  My dad got me into comics at a young age. I think my first comic book was a Marvel Tales reprint of an early issue of Amazing Spider-Man (the issue where Spidey battles the Green Goblin; the Human Torch guest starred).  I vaguely remember running around the house, shaping my fingers like Spidey, pretending to shoot webs.  A few years later, I remember lassoing a metal coat rack and pretending I could swing off it.  I learned quickly that that was not a good idea (see, I’d taken off the plastic pieces that covered the end of the metallic hooks, so when I tried to swing, the coat rack fell on me and a metal hook hit my forehead, causing me to bleed; my mother was nearly in shock when I walked into the bathroom with blood dripping from my head).  Even after that, Spider-Man was still one of my favorites.

As the years passed, and I entered puberty, I began having these strange thoughts and feelings.  Looking back, those thoughts and feelings signaled the onset of my sexuality.  I didn’t know what ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’ was.  I just knew that I was looking at guys in a really unconventional manner, and I knew that was wrong, because that’s the message society was sending in the 80s (and still sends today, to a lesser degree in some places).

To say that I felt alone and isolated is like saying Antarctica is chilly.

I didn’t know anyone who thought things the way I did. I didn’t know anyone who was a male that looked at other men and found them pleasing.  I didn’t know what the ‘closet’ was.  I didn’t know some of the subtle signs and cues given off by gay people. Hell, I didn’t know what a ‘gay person’ was.

I was lonely and I really would have liked to have known that there were more people out there like me.  I would have liked to have seen people on television, in the movies, on the radio, or in books who reflected me (I realize in retrospect, that they were there; I just didn’t know what to look for).  I wanted representation.  I wanted to see my experiences reflected in the world around me.  I needed that.  It took years before I got that.

Looking back at my love for Spider-Man, I realized as a kid that I had an affinity for the character divorced from our differences in ethnicity.  I somehow identified with the character in such a way that I didn’t mind that he didn’t look like me.  But that’s not the case for others.  Some kids look for heroes that look like them, or sound like them. They want to be able to identify with people in movies, on tv, on the radio, or in books, and see that these people reflect them and their experiences.

Our culture is suffused with imagery of white males.  That’s part of society.  There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t knock the idea of white men being represented in movies, radio, tv, and literature.  What I have a problem with is when they are the ones who are overwhelmingly represented, to the exclusion of others.

Others like women, trans people, gay men, or lesbians.

Others like blacks, asians, or hispanics.

Others like the elderly or the poor.

Others like people who are blind, physically disabled, or mentally disabled.

Humans come in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, ethnicities, religions (and non religions), sexualities, and sexes.  For many of us, we want to see ourselves reflected in the movies, in television shows, in music, in literature.  It shows that an attempt is being made to portray reality as it is, rather than how it has been traditionally been treated:  a world of white men with a few token different people thrown in for good measure (sometimes; after all, those early issues of Amazing Spider-Man were overwhelmingly white).

Again, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being white, or having white characters. What I take issue with is the notion from many quarters that it is somehow wrong to reflect diversity in media.  Media is a reflection of reality. Of our tastes, our likes, and our dislikes.  Media reflects what we care about.  When media reflects only-or predominately-the views of one specific group of humans (white males), it fails utterly to reflect what reality is really like.  It also reinforces the idea that the only perspective that matters or is of any importance is the white, male perspective.

Today, I read an article at Comic Book Resources on diversity.  In it, the author-Albert Ching-quotes an individual who wrote in to CBR to complain about comments Ching made about the Guardians of the Galaxy movie.  Despite the fact that Mr. Ching’s comments were largely complimentary, he did have a slight criticism to offer:

“While it is a little disappointing that a movie with such an eclectic cast still has a handsome white male as its lead, it’s hard to take issue with [Chris] Pratt’s actual performance.”

Those who have spent time in social justice circles can imagine what happened next: Ching was criticized for being racist towards white people:

“The racism towards white males in Albert Ching’s review of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is unacceptable and I ask that it be removed from the article.”

There’s also this gem:

“Why is that disappointing? Star-Lord is white. It’s that simple. And he’s the only ‘white guy’ on a very diverse team of aliens. So, while I get that CBR feels the need to stroke the mane of the diversity unicorn to appease…someone…that statement seemed completely out of left field.”

No attempt was made to explaim how Mr. Ching’s comments were racist (which one would be hard pressed to successfully argue; after all he merely expressed mild dissatisfaction with yet another lead character in a movie being a white male–cinema is filled to brimming with white male characters who lead films; it’s long since tiresome that people of other genders and ethnicities aren’t reflected more often).

As for the “diversity unicorn”

(source)

that strikes me as dismissive of Mr. Chings’ criticism. It’s dismissive of the concerns of a lot of movie goers who want to see more diversity in leading roles in movies.  Women go to the movies (and as we’ve seen with GotG, they often go in substantial numbers).  Black people go to movies. Hispanic people go to movies.  Yet all groups are woefully underrepresented in films.  Comments about “diversity unicorns” are demeaning because they treat the concerns of non white men as if they’re unimportant.  It does not at all pain me to say this:  white men, you are not the center of the universe.  Please learn to recognize not only that, but the fact that it is good marketing and business for movie studios (and comics, and music, and tv) to diversify their output to appeal to as many people as possible.  Yes, white people are part of “as many people as possible”.  Some of us would just like to see less white men and more of the rest of us.  Is that so wrong?

 


No. It is not.

The Diversity Unicorn

Other Cultures

I have lived in the United States my entire life. In my experience, we don’t learn much about cultures outside of ours to any great detail. One can go their entire life and not know much about people from other walks of life. People who may seem different (and in many ways, they are), but at the end of the day, are much the same as anyone else.  They’re human as the rest of us.  If we expect others to respect our culture and treat us with decency, we must extend that same respect to others (the only caveat to that is that I do not respect cultural practices that violate human rights). I think a good way to respect other cultures is to learn about them, or help expose people to them.    For example, the Sea Gypsies:

For thousands of years, the nomadic Moken sailed the Andaman Sea between Myanmar’s Mergui islands and Thailand’s southern islands, living most of their lives on their boats. Unlike their counterparts in Thailand, where mass tourism has already irrevocably changed the Moken lifestyle, many of them had never seen foreigners until very recently. As tourism increases, the Myanmar Moken, as well as the government and developers, would do well to learn from Thailand’s mistakes. This could be the last chance for the sea gypsies to preserve their language, their way of life and their mythology. (Austin Bush)

More on the Sea Gypsies here.

Other Cultures