How I Read Stuff [Permanent Sticky/Guide for Almost Everything You Will Read on This Blog]

I am quite weary of living in a society where the erasure, commodification, caricaturization, absence, and general dehumanization of my race is a normal thing. Being aware of it is hard to live with because once you know, you can never unknow.

One of the chief reasons I am unhappy and critical with most of what I see in the media is because of how my race is continuously reduced to fodder for white supremacy/white hero worship and the agenda of anti-Blackness, even by members of my own race itself. I want to see and read more work where this is not the case.

I am not a sponge, just indiscriminately soaking up any liquid I come into contact with.

I concern myself particularly with the portrayals and conditions of Black women and characters, or female/genderqueer characters of Color or non-white characters.

As I watch things or read things, I am constantly considering what I think and feel about it. That’s just how I am. When evaluating my issues or non-issues, ratio of love/hate, and like or dislike of many forms of media and entertainment, my mind searches for the answers to these questions:

  • What is the position of Black women? Are there even any present?

  • Are Black women main characters or side characters?

  • Are Black women three dimensional or poorly constructed caricatures, mammies to whiteness/oppressors, and antagonists?

  • How many racist cliches/stereotypes are tacked onto her?

  • Are there white people there? Why? What role do they play? What do they have to do with the sista (who should be the main character)?

  • Again, vital, what role do the whites play and what is their relationship to the Black characters? Are they in a position of power over them?

  • Is the Black female character reliant on or worshiping in any way shape or form a white, male, or non-Black character? Does her character hold up without these others or is her existence made to dependent upon them?

  • What is the Black woman’s characterization? How is she portrayed? Who is she? What kind of person is she? What role is she playing?

  • What type of people are around her? What type of decisions does she make? What is her background?

  • Does her situation seem realistic to me from the root of my subjectivities?

  • Is this Black woman character’s story only about the struggle?

  • Is the story restricted to stereotypical genres like urban fiction, slavery, and chick lit?

  • How does her story end? How does she grow? Does she achieve her goals or desires?

–Queens

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Masashi Kishimoto’s Female Characters in ‘Naruto’ Revisited

I’m sure I’m not imagining things now, or overanalyizing.

Naruto is a boys-will-be-boys, fraternal love shounen anime. I don’t think that the manga is so different from the anime arcs that it can’t be compared, so I’ll judge the thing as a whole and offer more of my critique.

Of course, Naruto is doing a few things with homoromantic/homoromantic asexual love (?)–that is affection between two or more people of the same gender that is affectionate, sexual, and/or nonsexual–that many fighting anime meant for male audiences does not do. But the rub is that female characters, no matter what positions of power they might hold, are on the periphery as things that need to be protected, mothers, the love interest of male characters, violently irrational maniacs, boy crazy goofs, healers and nurses, spiteful deceptive vipers, canon fodder for male ignorance and sexism perpetrated by male characters.

After watching the most recently subbed episode of Naruto Shippuden (episode 247, “Target: The Nine Tails”), and seeing Kushina’s portrayal, I’m really frustrated with Kishimoto and the animating staff. The mangaka’s resolution to Kushina being brought to the Village Hidden in the Leaves to be a vessel for the Nine Tails, and how she dealt with it, is that she “filled herself with love”. What the hell is that supposed to mean? She got a boyfriend, is this the answer to sexism and making women’s bodies vessels and weapons of political warfare? That’s the resolution to this horrible thing that an entire village and it’s political leaders decided to do to her? And then they told her not to be too loud while she was giving birth to a f**kin’ baby??? 0_0

That’s got to be one of the most horrible and the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. He chose to present her as yet another passive, maternal, my-boyfriend-fixed-the-horrors-of-my-life kind of female character. Another passive, motherly (albeit with a fiery temper) kind of female character, using her inconsequential, passive magical girl powers to save everyone except herself. I’ll tell her the same thing I’d tell Sailor Moon: She would get punched in the face and murdered if she tried to use the power of love to stop a fist from coming at her and to stop someone trying to kill her. I think Kushina’s plight could have been presented, at this point, as more realistic.

It’s really sad because several of Kishimoto’s female characters have a lot of promise and potential, but despite that the anime/manga is ongoing, it’s clear that these characters as strong female heroines are being poorly executed/portrayed. I definitely think that Kishimoto’s inability to craft 3-dimensional female heroes is a reflection of how he probably thinks of women and interacts with them. It’s the same hurtle that female viewers and female players such as myself run into with both anime and manga and furthermore the gaming industry.

Art is not separate from those who create it, it comes from within them.

Evermore,

Taviante Queens

M. Night Shyamalan: a reflection on his movies and how ‘The Last Airbender’ was completely and utterly wrecked

Contrary to all the negative reviews surrounding M. Night Shyamalan, as a writer and filmmaker/director, I had always enjoyed his work for the most part.The Sixth SenseSigns (even with Mel Gibson the Flaming-damn-Racist). Devil.The VillageLady in the WaterUnbreakable (even though Samuel L. Jackson is the villain). Even the bogus documentary. I even thought The Happening was a good idea even if it didn’t pan out all too great.

Ever since I read a quote from him about the spiritual message intended in his films, I was drawn to him and his work as an artist. I had nothing but high hopes.

It literally nearly made me cry when I heard that he screwed up Avatar The Last Airbender the live action movie. I was even more surprised to find that the casting was racist and that two clearly brown main characters central to the story were cast as lily white people (Katara and Sokka). Aang was even white. The acting wasn’t that great and I’m too scared to look at the other criticisms of the movie. He screwed up the plot and changed the pronunciation of names.

This show was handed to him–plot, details, action, emotion, potential–on a gotdamn silver platter. How did this happen?

I was heartbroken. But why? I had never watched the ATLA animation. As an American “cartoon”, most likely produced by white writers, I put it immediately out of my mind, as my opinion of most American animation is very poor, thanks to Disney and a white, conservative, middleclass dominated market. I prefer Japanese animation/anime, though Japan has it’s racism against POC, Black people in particular, that it needs to fucking deal with.

What I’ve come to realize though is that People of Color are never the main characters in M. Night’s movies. He himself is Indian (as in from India). As I understand it India is one of the nations of brown people known for it’s history with white European imperialism and colonization. Maybe this has something to do with it? There just has to be a reason why he has yet to make a film where a person of color is the main character.

The American mainstream film industry needs to die a hard, painful death. I give up.

*sigh*,

Queenly

Kunoichi/Female Characters in Kishimoto’s ‘Naruto’

I think one of the biggest issues with Naruto, for me as a female viewer of color, is Kishimoto’s/the animators’ treatment and portrayals of female characters. Even if you were to argue that the target audience is mostly male, this should not excuse or validate sexism and, in some cases, misogyny.

Some of these point may be overlooked but it’s worth saying anyway in terms of how I view the roles and typecasting of female characters/kunoichi in the show.

  1. There is a strict gendered separation of male and female characters that is maintained throughout the series.
  2. Females are members of the team but there’s no way to really say that these male characters are actually friends with them. They are typically either 1) villains, 2) love interests/mothers, 3) team members/colleagues/comrades, or 4) sexual objects. I definitely think Kishimoto and the animators are more interested presenting fraternal relationships.
  3. With the exception of Ten Ten who is rarely seen in the main story arc, many of the primary female characters may be fierce fighters but Kishimoto has firmly seated/stereotyped them as nurturing and motherly with the concept of medical ninjutsu and chakra control. As if females are natural healers and nurturers with natural propensities towards innate chakra control. It’s a useful skill to have but this idea is nonetheless sort of problematic, because it presents female ninjas as natural healers and softens their strength and abilities by placing them in the mold of “the healer type”, as if to cater to a largely male audiences needing motherly figures/nice girls to not feel emasculated. How many male characters do you see presented as healers, with the exception of Kabuto (a villain) and nameless medical nin who appear throughout the series? Because, obviously, guys’ chakra control is too poor so they get all the cool physical/flashy jutsu, yeah. So Kishimoto definitely plays to heteronormative gender roles, albeit in a way that can be overlooked.
  4. The only brown female character so far is presented as a brute (Karui of Kumogakure). Nobody can tell me that two or three or more of the ninjas from the Village Hidden in the Clouds are not racist portrayals, and that includes Killer B.
  5. Ten Ten is the only openly feminist-like character, or at the least the only person inspired by successful, powerful kunoichi (not just their beauty), in the whole series and it seems she gets the least airtime out of the Konoha female shinobi. (And there’s going to be some people who pop up and argue that Sakura’s also an exception but, just to let you know, I’m tired of Sakura, honestly.)
  6. Is there any female ninja whose beauty or big breasts isn’t the focus of what’s great about her?
  7. Many female characters are presented as sacrificial lambs, so to speak. For example: the f*king 5th Hokage, in all her years of combat, training, and experience, never developed a justu that could protect the entire village or kick Pain’s ass (one of Pain’s asses at least). Not that it’s something to be overlooked, but she instead protects the villagers by nearly sacrificing her own life with a passive justu that used her chakra in conjunction with Katsuyu. Annnd then…Naruto swoops in to save the day.
  8. Of course there’s only one female shinobi per team and she will always need a male shinobi to save her at some point.
  9. The younger female characters of the main cast are presented as boy crazy! Ten Ten and Temari, probably less than others but it comes out sometimes.

Additional Relevant Thoughts:

  • Are there no females who have the sharingan?
  • How is it okay for Jiraiya to invade women’s privacy in hot springs and this is largely treated as it is supposed be funny? I like Jariya as character—without the peeping. It’s really starting to bug me. You could have made him an imperfect character without that extent of perversion and sexism/objectification.
  • Is it too much to ask for a cool fat female character who’s not presented as a complete joke?

Princess Tiana’s transformation–let’s get a little academic

Princess Tiana. Photo from all-disneychannel.com

The anticipated and hoped for reaction by the story writers and marketers at Disney is that audiences will view Tiana’s transformation into a frog as fun, magical, entertaining, and necessary. However, what the transformation really does is erase any question or possibility of what the film might have been like if Tiana had been human, Black, and female the whole duration of the film like her fellow Disney princesses.

The visibility and hypervisibility of Black women’s bodies (and the bodies of women/characters who we identity with our eyes as [potentially] of color) serve as a ploy to identify them as the sexualized, racialized, exotic “other”, a phenomena presented usually in the form of a side character or supporting character, in a world where whiteness is the default. Simultaneously, the invisibility and hyperinvisibility of these women’s bodies (i.e. being turned into a cat or a frog, being presented as a [scantily clad] villian and non-human) makes them more palatable and digestable to the gazes of those audiences who have been socialized against accepting and embracing brown/Black bodies in roles reserved for white bodies. This further confirms, affirms, corroborates racist perceptions, ideas, and presentations of “black bodies” and “black spaces” and it does so safely within the sanctuary and under the protection of white spaces with the help of it’s gatekeepers and policers who silence dissenters.

But Disney’s The Princess and the Frog solidifies a new level of racism in mainstream media though I wouldn’t call it “progressive” or some kind of “step forward” because it’s been done before: Princess Tiana is the main character–this is the new level which draws viewers in since it is the opposite of her being a side or supporting character or an extra). However, where this gimmick particularly fails is when Disney decides to turn her into a frog for a chunk of the movie.

Princess Tiana is turned into an animal to erase the visibility of her Black, female, and human body and this is made possible by the invisibility of that human, Black body. As an animal, she is not only more digestable and palatable for white audiences via the invisibility of her human, Black-identified, female body, she becomes fun, entertaining, and non-threatening in a mainstream media where three-dimensional Black female characters rarely take “the lead”, a role that is reserved for whites or *shouts* “ANYBODY ELSE? ANYBODY…?”.

Princess Tiana. Photo from Wikipedia.
Princess Tiana's tranformation as a frog. Photo from http://www.fanpop.com

 

Folks, Disney is not less racist than before because it tacked on a Black princess Pt. II

Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen

Didn’t catch Part I? Check it out here.

The Princess and the Frog again: white folks that I know come to me in confessional and tell me they think the film was racist and they know it but like/saw it anyway and let their kids watch it. They still take their kids to Disney World at least once a year. Disney can’t get it right, so when are we going stop wanting and feeling like we need to be included in Disney’s fantastical, wonderful world? And when are our so-called allies going to join our staunch allies and just say NO?

Why does it have to be “I love Disney, but….”? You could just as easily flip that sentence around and say “Disney is racist, classist, and sexist but I still love it”. Those statements are alarmingly similar if you ask me.

When we say NO, with everything in us, we won’t have to preface criticisms with “I love [insert problematic thing here], but…”.

In my case, I love the Kingdom Hearts videogames—not a Black person as a main character in sight in those games and Disney had their hands all over it. At the same time I don’t go around professing my love of Disney. I grew out of my sometimes blind love as a child for Disney gradually, starting with the appropriation and misrepresentation of Pocahontas as a fairytale and when that stuff in Fantasia was brought to my attention, it was just another nail in the coffin. Disney, in some ways, cultivated my vision of the fantastical when I was growing up and at the same time I have felt in recent years most acutely that it is completely necessary to hold Disney at an arm’s length and set it away from me. The addition of a Black Disney princess has not changed that, and nor will the next Kingdom Hearts game or the next catchy song in their animated feature or Johnny Depp in Pirates.

The piece I read at the satirical blog, The People’s News, made light of Black people’s criticisms of the film trailer supposedly in attempt to spark discussion. One piece I read is titled this and offers the opinion that “The Princess and the Frog is not (entirely) racist” (and so it’s okay because the movie isn’t “entirely” racist???). Not to jump down the throat of the guy who wrote that, but, again, why are we drawing the line at what is “acceptably racist” instead of maintaining that racism is never okay? A share of the articles were very tentative about criticizing the film so their arguments processed in my mind as helpful but kind of lukewarm. But most of all the articles I’ve ever read on the subject are from people who confess to be Disney fans.

“I hold Disney movies very close to my heart but is anyone else ever put off by some of the underlying messages?”

Not Quite Going the Distance, Develle Dish

And that’s the trouble: We’re holding things like Disney so close to our hearts that we’re also refusing to acknowledge that what we love about it is too tangled up in what we criticize and want to change and what needs to be replaced with radical alternatives. Because Disney is not going to crumble to the ground tomorrow, not as long as people are supporting the negative things it does as a corporation that appropriates and panders watered-down, magicked-up fairytales. In this case, it is our love that renders us unable to raise our hand against that which dehumanizes us and those around us.

“This movie shows anything but the overcoming of stereotypes in Disney films. So until the real deal comes along, stay in your seats”

The Oberlin Review Blog

Nice try. That’s ifthe real deal comes along. I don’t even think Disney, as a corporation, is capable of “the real deal”…. A history and pattern of media production like the one the Walt Disney Corporation has just doesn’t disappear.

Sunflower from Disney's Fantasia (1940). She is not only the servant to a white, female centaur, she herself is part-donkey. Centaurs are usually horse hybrids.

evermore real,

Ms. Queenly

Folks, Disney is not less racist than before because it tacked on a Black princess

From About.com

“The condemnation of black criticism from some whites suggests that black people are peripheral citizens or customers who are eternally the recipients of aid and should be perpetually grateful. What’s especially unfair about those who condemn blacks who criticize The Princess and the Frog is that whites, as a race, are not condemned as ungrateful or otherwise for critiquing the numerous white Disney princesses (or society at large.)… Another charge levied at black critics of The Princess and the Frog is that they are trifling to ‘waste time’ getting agitated over cartoons. But the fact is all media, especially those directed at children in their formative years, shape how people see and interact with the world.”

The Princess and the Frog and the Critical Gaze, written by Racialicious contributor Shannon Prince

I recently came across an article about the Disney princesses and princes, Not Quite Going the Distance. The only thing that really disappointed me about the article aside from the fans posting there was the writer’s confession to an obvious love of Disney and I got to wondering why. I see that the comments on posts like this one are mostly from Disney fans indignant at the fact that someone dared criticize their childhood princesses despite their problematic presentations and messages. I’m not sure from the first opening line that the author was trying to be subversive or ease Disney fans into the conversation.

One commenter wrote, “It really depends on how you look at it though — if you are looking for a movie with a woman in a ‘supporting’ role, you will find it.”

Why can’t the postulation be this instead: It’s there and if you’re looking at it with both eyes open instead of closed, you’re not only going to see the isses faster and more clearly than the desperate fangirls with posters of Tiana, Belle, and Ariel plastered on the insides of their eyelids, you’re going to realize that Disney has been propagating this kind of media for decades and they’re not going to stop now.

As long as they’re making money and can get away with it, they’re gonna keep doing it. That’s what international corporations based in a capitalist nation are for, and, in the process, we’re the ones who pay for it.

Mila Rose (Bleach the animation) in her “released” form. Her originally non-human form was that of a lion-like creature. Her outfit in her human form before this is Amazon-ish.

FYI:

Fun parts of the movie cannot be isolated and separated from it’s racism,

the movie cannot be isolated and separated from the history of the corporation that produced it,

and the movie cannot be seperated from the racism in the history of the corporation.

I’m saying this because Tiana is the first Black Disney princess though not the first princess of color and because of Disney’s history. I’m talking about this because movies like The Princess and the Frog not only promote the idea that stereotypes and caricatures of Black women/peoples and our culture are natural, but socialize children and their parents to view it as fun, entertaining, and okay as long as it’s “not entirely racist”.

So, we’re we going to draw the line at what is “acceptably racist” now?

“Notice, that in this so-called celebration of Black womanhood, that Tiana’s hair is far from kinky. Tiana also spends a large portion of the movie as a frog. How is this a celebration or even ground breaking, when she is not drawn with kinky hair and is then immediately erased to become an amphibian? She does get her prince charming, but unlike Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, or Ariel, she does not go off to lead a life of leisure in a castle; she gets to own a restaurant, where she will spend her days working…The Disney princess series is absolutely problematic in the harmful messages that it sends young girls, but I venture to say that its treatment of race compounds the dissonance of worth and value that little Black girls live with everyday. I believe as women, we would all be better off if the genre simply disappeared, but if they must continue, framing them in a manner that specifically harms girls of color by celebrating Whiteness as the ultimate example of femininity must end.”

Tangled: A Celebration of White Femininity, Womanist Musings

Name another Disney princess, in the Disney Vault or out of the Disney Vault, who spent the majority of their starring or non-starring animated film as an animal? Nothing against frogs, I’m just saying. Ariel was humanoid—she didn’t even look like the mermaids from Harry Potter or Pirates of the Caribbean 4 (fanged, man-eaters and such). Can we have a movie where we see the Black princess for the entire film and she’s not an animal? The visibility and subsequent “invisibility” of Tiana’s Black-identified body and other brown women in animated series is an issue here.

Not presenting Black women’s body as fully human or erasing and censoring their humanity as people who happen to be brown is not only a Disney issue. Let’s examine the colorism in the animated version of Bleach created by manga artist, Tite Kubo:

  1. Shihoin Yoruichi (or Yoruichi Shihoin, first name first) spends her debut in the anime as a black cat with a man’s voice.
  2. She is a “princess” though we have yet to see any of the members of her noble clan.
  3. Yoruichi spends over a dozen episodes as a cat before it is revealed that she is a brown-skinned woman.
  4. She is a supporting character, like many women of color who appear in the manga and animation.
  5. She (and other brown characters) are consistently described as “dark-skinned” no matter what brown they are, on the Bleach Wikia and in the manga and animation.

The animation staff and Kubo have stereotyped, downplayed, killed off, or hypersexualized (most likely as fan service for male audiences) nearly every character that would be considered of color to appear so far. Other female characters from Bleach that are problematic include but are not limited to Harribel Tia and one of her subordinates, Mila-Rose, who aren’t even humans and are presented as villains, who are later utterly defeated. Read my earlier opinion on Japanese animation, colorism, and racism here.

Harribel Tia from Tite Kubo’s Bleach, in color. Note that the animators extended her jacket and the mask on her jaw and neck was extended to cover the whole of her breasts instead of just her nipples. The undersides of her breasts and her whole torso were both originally visible. Her original form was that of a shark-like creature.

Like Disney, the growing manga and anime market, it’s artists and animating staffs’ treatment of “brown people”/racialized characters and women is suspiciously patternistic. The thing that Disney’s animations and Japanese manga and anime share in common is that many of the people who are fans love it so much that they won’t look at it critically no matter how offensive it it. Love is blind, or so they say.

Everybody manifests and deals with dislike, anger, and other frowned upon emotions and traits like criticalness in different ways. But I would put out there that it is our love for corporations like Disney that allow them to thrive, miseducate, profit from, support and engrain stereotypes, and infantilize the masses.

read Part II,

~MsQ

Issued: Lord of the Rings pt. I

I haven’t finished writing everything I have to say about Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, which I have both read and seen the movie for, but this is half of it. Once the entire commentary is finished, I’ll will post it together under the drop-down menu of ISSUED, but for right now, it shall be in post format only under Part One and Part Two. ~MsQ

 

Since I typically don’t read them and yet they dominate the fields of horror and fantasy, I am glad to add the first male writer, JRR Tolkien, to the Issued series.

Don’t get it twisted—I really liked Lord of the Rings and its expansiveness. But I also liked Harry Potter and the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series and it didn’t stop me from criticizing them.

  1. A mountain-load of research: Not to give this Eurocentric piece of literature too much credit but what must be appreciated about Lord of the Rings and all its related readings is the sheer amount of work, imagination, and willpower that must have went into it. I couldn’t fathom how to create languages other than the ones I speak at random when I’m feeling out how the character speaks or says things.
  2. Whiteness and blondeness as light, power, purity, beauty, and goodness: As typical of most (white) writers in fantasy fiction, there’s this obsession with light and whiteness as good, power, and beauty and light (inherently all these things at once) that is presented in Lord of the Rings. Why did Gandolf the Grey have to become Gandolf the White. What’s up with Shadowfax (a white horse) being the lord of all horses. Why is the most spirited and badass hero(ine) of the story pale as milk and blond (Eowene). Why’s the most powerful elf-lady blonde as the palest blade of hair and white as Wonder Bread. Don’t deny it, you know its true. Keep in mind that the flour used in many things, if not all of them, that are baked are bleached so that they are white. I think this is interesting when looking at symbolic and metaphorical representations and imagery of whiteness, blue eyes, and blondeness in the LotR movies and literature, etc.
  3. Darkness as ill-favored, grotesque, and evil: There are, of course, no people of color in the LotR triology. There’s a sharp contrast between white folks and inhuman dark things. Well, unless you count the men in scarves and turbans with their faces covered in the Oliphant scene, I think that’s about as close as we got to seeing people of color in the movie. Oh and those guys were evil and working for Sauron.
  4. West vs. East: Maybe I don’t know enough to say too much on what bothers me about this theme in the movie, but I know that the Eurocentric West is always antagonizing and exotifying ‘the East’ in many American and European modes of discourse, especially literature and film. So I find it interesting that all the white folks in the “West” are portrayed as the heroes and all the creepy, violent, dark-skinned, evil stuff comes from the “East”.
  5. Ladies of Lords: Why is it that all of the powerful women in the story are the daughters of powerful men? Where are the common folk in this?
  6. The Wealthy Hobbit Saves the Day: In the same vein as the brief but poignant ‘Ladies of Lords’ section of this article, the attempted hero is not to just any hobbit, he’s a wealthy hobbit living comfortably with his wealthy uncle. NOTE: Let us not forget that Frodo is an orphan and his story isn’t all peaches and roses, and that he is portrayed as being exceptionally kind, spirited, and intelligent. But—yet and still.
  7. Rings and Staffs as Ties to Power: There’s a lot of commentary here, which I think is also evident in Rowling’s Harry Potter, about material things like rings and wands and staffs tying people to and representing power. I find this both interesting and vexing. Why does power lie in material objects? If someone has a certain natural powerful, wands and staffs and rings and such should be unnecessary. Yet the object gives us something tangible to see and ground us in the story as we contemplate the necessity of the object and its meaning and symbolism.

~MsQ

Ghost Whisperer, A Review

Ghost Whisperer, A Review

And I thought this was going to be really good. It started out well and just went downhill, particularly at the end of the first season.

***Spoiler Alert***

This review contains spoilers

  1. Typecasted Friends: First, Melinda (the main character played by Hewitt) had a tall Black friend, then she had a tall “full-figured” friend. Methinks I see typecasting. Melinda’s abilities to see, sense, and talk to the dead somehow situates her with the rest of society’s most stereotyped undesirables.
  2. Oh and let us not forget how (horribly, in some cases) men of color are presented—Latino, Asian, Black. Hewitt did a good job acting like a scared little white girl in some of those scenes.
  3. Black Sidekick Character: Of course they killed off the only Black person in the series who was main character in the first season. Not only that, they typed her as a comedian and a sidekick.
  4. Small Town Colorblind Racism and Race Representation: With the exception of less than a handful of the episodes and one episode in particular, the show had a pretty much typical “multiculti” (my pet euphemism for multiculturalism and multiculturalist) theme to it.
  5. Jim: So he dies and jumps into somebody else’s body, losing his memory of his life (although I understand it all comes back to him slowly). Some scriptwriter realized that killing him off was a very bad idea too late after the fact.
  6. Barbie Doll Jennifer: I loved a lot of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s outfits in the show, but I wasn’t very comfortable with the whole petite-white-fairy-princess theme expressed from early on. I never did like Tinkerbell or the Disney Princesses all that much.
  7. Professor Rick: He and Melinda almost had something going and anybody with two eyes can see it!!! I read that the actor went to a different show after his character left, never returned, to go on sabbatical. I liked his and Melinda’s bantering. It was cute and amusing.
  8. Its Always, Always An ACCIDENT: In almost every episode of Ghost Whisperer, it turns out to be an accidental death. With all the malicious, horrendous murders and crimes that take place in the United States, I find it very hard to suspend my disbelief when this show focuses on the ones that turn out, after some degree of investigating, to be accidents. You could say that this is why Melinda doesn’t live in the city and chose a small town (regardless of all the mess surrounding her heritage) or you could say this is a really lame, badly plotted, PG-13 show.
  9. Melinda and Jim: I actually think their relationship is one of the most believable ones I’ve ever seen fictionally depicted. Their bumps and obstacles are portrayed well, and so is their affection for one another.
  10. Go into the light *rolls eyes*: I kinda find the whole light and dark theme a little annoying. Such a cliché.
  11. Whatever happened to that guy that was supposed be her half-brother anyway? Complete plot hole.
  12. Patriarchy rules again: I’ve noticed that plenty of shows seem to script powerful female characters giving birth to boys when they get pregnant during the course of the show. Melinda is no different. I like the somewhat feminist tone of the show, even with her mother’s attitude toward her own and Melinda’s abilities. Then they script write that Melinda’s child is a boy who, of course, will have greater abilities than she herself*rolls eyes* Typical.
  13. Aw, Melinda is crying—again: She cries in every episode! Or at least most of them, especially the first and second season through. They tried to toughen her up a bit in the third season but I didn’t believe it.
  14. Creepy: On another positive note, they actually had some stuff in there that was kind of creepy. Good job.

A lot of fans want the show to air again. I’m not so sure I can agree… I watched it a couple of times, particularly the first and second seasons. Eventually I made sure that my mom didn’t by the final seasons because I thought they were a load of crap.

For what it’s worth, Ghost Whisperer wasn’t that bad…at first. But I got over the novelty of it soon enough.

Toying with Whitness and ‘darkness’

Elia's Diamonds

One of the few books I ever pick up anymore is Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series–and that’s saying something. As I get older, my tastes become more specific. I am less amused by the things that occupied me as a child and as a young adult, percieving them as a semi-exciting maze that has no other paths and leads eventually, always, to the same damn dead end produced by the publishing market.

This being said, I have yet to write about in detail Laurell K. Hamilton’s fixation, like most racist fetishist participating in racialized fetishism on the page, with paleness and whiteness as opposed to brownness and the so-called ‘darkness’. Hamilton’s Anita Blake is caught up in the racialized dualism of ‘darkness; and whiteness with little to no middle ground. I will suspend my belief in the concept of the willful muse to go so far as to say that Laurell K. Hamilton herself is trapped in the same dualism, seeing as how Anita comes out of her head: Anita is a reflection of the author’s own psyche.

Through Anita, Hamilton toys with the idea of brownness through summer tans and suggestions of “darker heritage’, but couches the entire story from the prospective of a woman who is half white and middleclass, with an angelic deceased Latina mother, a mean strict Catholic Latina grandmother, surrounded by her white lovers–a score of men telling her how beautful she is mostly because the women around her are either victims, “meat” for abuse and weak, tarts that just wanna start something with Anita, resources for Anita to learn for and therefore do not appear often (and nor are they called upon by Anita as allies regularly), or more evil, sadistic, and scary than Anita is and, therefore, must be killed. Examples are Vivian, Raina, the Mother of All Darkness, Jade, Belle Morte, Cherry, and so on and so forth. Infrequent characters like Sylvie (victimized by Hamilton as well) and Claudia being the exception (and still white and blond at that).

Hamilton spends all this time, all sixteen or so books, establishing Anita as a woman whose beauty lies merely in the suggestion of her ‘darker heritage’, when she herself is pasty pale, petite, and curly-haired and might as well be white. She toys with the idea of ‘darkness’ while never really presenting anybody besides minor characters like Raphael and Jamil as truly “dark” or ethnic, whatever that may mean. What is the (political) point of even building and portraying Anita as half Latina when she’s just going to play with the idea of her being Latina? You could easily swap her out for a white girl and there wouldn’t be that much of a difference. There’s no point in emphasizing her Latina heritage if all her worth is couched in her pale white skin. Her Latina blood is just something to eroticize and exotify.

Shoot, the only thing that’s Latina about Anita, as my friend who is Mexican would say, is her hair. Believe it.

I am sick of writers and the media couching racial commentary in multiracial and biracial terms, as if this is the only perspective valid enough to be represented because whites are more accepting of someone who is half white. Of course, not everyone who is multiracial or biracial is half white, that’s a given, but that’s the most common “combination” that gets recognized and fetishized.

Laurell K. Hamilton uses biraciality as a spring board to toy with color and brownness when in reality there are no main characters who are people of color. Everything and everyone is seamlessly and technically white. Everybody is white, even Anita, at the very least physically. And I think its because LKH knows that a person, particularly a woman, who is truly ethnically brown, or dare I say, Black even, would stick out like a sore thumb with all those pretty, pale, white Europeans that she’s crowded this story with.

Ever more real,

Ms. Queenly