Since I talked about absent male parents on my other blog, I guess I’ll keep it coming.
For my birthday, I went to the movies for the first time in years and I saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Just like an increasing number of Marvel movies these days, the writers really need to adjust some of their humor. But what I found myself struck by was the relationship between Peter Quill and Ego.
Since my birthday is around the same time as Father’s Day, I give a thought to that relationship. I sensed the pain and anger that Peter Quill, even as a fictional character, must have felt to learn the truth about his father. There was just something there in the story that resonated with me.
I do not easily refer to my sperm donor as “Dad”, despite the title of this post. Simply because he’s not that and it offends my definitions of the words family and father to give him an honor he did not earn. No, my sperm donor didn’t kill my mom and he isn’t a god. Just a really messed up, manipulative, entitled, arrogant guy who can’t keep it in his pants. He might not think he’s God’s gift to the entire universe but does think he’s God’s gift to women and he deserves a throne built on my back for not wearing a condom.
I know what it’s like to want an absent father to turn out to be a better person than his absence would lead you to believe. I didn’t play a game of Light-ball catch with my sperm donor like Peter Quill did. But I did give him a chance. And he wasn’t worth the time, energy, or the chance I gave him.
Maybe I’ll save a post about Yondu for later.
I’m rooting for you, Nebula. Commit that patricide.
So the mother got Restoration, The Hateful, and Regression from Redbox and wanted someone to watch them with her.
I didn’t want to watch any of them honestly. I flat out refuse to watch any known Quentin Tarantino movie, because, ya know, he’s a racist and makes no attempts to disguise it. Kill Bill has a great soundtrack but Tarantino lost me at From Dusk Till Dawn after that Django bullshit and him claiming that he’s the reason people are talking about slavery.
My sister loves The Others, which is done by the same guy who did the second movie on the table, Regression. Looked it up, and the movie is about someone who accuses her father of sexually abused her as a kid. Not interested in seeing a film about that.
The last film put in front of me is Restoration, and the person responsible for this is Zack Ward. I was interested after reading that snippet that every website trots out about it. Little dead white girls haunting houses are a staple in American horror films but I hoped that her demise wasn’t super graphic so I could watch the film and decide if I thought it was any good. However, not willing to take the chance that the movie was a waste of time, I read several reviews trying to see if anyone wrote about the plot. No reviewer detailed the plot and there’s not a Wiki about it either, so off and on for a couple of hours I mulled over whether I wanted to give Restoration a chance.
In the end, I decided to watch it. For some reason, I don’t feel like telling the plot either so I won’t. Restoration had its moments. I wouldn’t say it was super bad and I wouldn’t say it was extraordinary either. It was good, I guess, maybe it was the acting. The potentially problematic presentation of the Black nurse (nurses? were there two who only appeared briefly?) was unfortunate and the ending itself was unfortunate in nature but not unexpected. Also written by white people, it had a The Skeleton Key element to it that nobody talks about in their reviews though Restoration‘s explanation could be clearer. I knew something was wrong with the protagonists’ overly friendly neighbors when the husband put the words “ancestor” and “East India Trading Company” in the same sentence. Racist, raping, genocidal bitches. So it was immediately confirmed to me that the neighbors were the problem after these words were said. In front of a fancy display cabinet full of treasured relics from the whites’ most beloved age of colonialism, delusions of supremacy, and willful destruction and maiming of the lives of other races.
My final thoughts as I walked away from the movie: Hmph. That is very disturbing.
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…?”.
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?”
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”
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.
“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.”
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.
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.”
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:
Shihoin Yoruichi (or Yoruichi Shihoin, first name first) spends her debut in the anime as a black cat with a man’s voice.
She is a “princess” though we have yet to see any of the members of her noble clan.
Yoruichi spends over a dozen episodes as a cat before it is revealed that she is a brown-skinned woman.
She is a supporting character, like many women of color who appear in the manga and animation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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?
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.
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.
If at all possible, I have some of the same issues with Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards—my sister made me watch it—that I have with his Kill Bill movies, if not more.
1. The graphicness of the violence is at Tarantino’s usual level, though it isn’t unbelievable. Still gross though.
2. The use of Native/indigenous/Native American/Indian/American Indian references is most offensive. (I never know which race/ethnic phrasing is preferable, or rather “PC”, to use.)
3. Of course, they took two or three shots at Black people as a race, the only Black person in the film being male and French and the lover of a white Jewish woman (Emmanuelle).
4. There were three women in the film, though two of them appeared the most frequently. All the women are either being used for sex or they are women who, in my opinion, aren’t allowed to live because they are deceiving men. There was that disgusting scene with female French interpreter in her leopard hair piece and that one Nazi guy—brief but like most disgusting sex scenes left its mark on my memory, like Forest Gump (the sounds were enough… =_=). Then there was Bridgette Hammersmark and Emmanuelle Mimeux, who were both killed in the film by violent German Nazi men. Bridgette was a German spy for America and Britain. Emmanuelle was a blonde and blue-eyed Jewish woman, who sought revenge against the Nazis and paid for it with her life. Bridgette was strangled to death after she was found out and Emmanuelle was shot to death though her revenge was successful even if she wasn’t alive to see it.
I just got through watching the movie so I’m not ready to go in-depth about the film, but I’m grinding my teeth over it a bit. I wonder what Jewish, Native, and German audiences thought about it….
Check it out, some of these are movies that scared me at one time and most of them are movies (or games) that still scare me at 3AM in the morning when its still technically nighttime and its really quiet and dark. Some might make you say, “Really?”, but some folks will understand why some of these movies scare the crap outta me. 0_0
I will add release years later but most of them probably aren’t ones you have to work hard at to figuring out when they came out. Its on the ‘Insider’s Guide to Having Issues’ menu.
DISCLAIMER: I know that vampires are a fad right now but I’ve been thinking about this for years.
What I’ve noticed about portrayals of vampires in media and fiction-writing is that most writers choose a type of vampire to portray. Over the years, after having read and seen much paranormal fiction, there is a common concept of a vampire and what that means and looks like; most of the time, pale, pasty, white, European, blood-sucking, holy-object allergic, coffin-dwelling, sunlight-evading,vicious, below-normal-body-temperature, and sometimes bearing varying levels of preternatural powers/abilities.
Offhand, I can think of several blood-drinking varieties that I am familiar with and what works they hail from: Christine Feehan (her Carpathians novels and related works), Laurell K. Hamilton (primarily the Anita Blake stuff), Anne Rice (my first cover to cover was Vittorio the Vampire), the ones in NightPrayers (by P.D. Cacek); Young Adult (YA) stuff like The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause, Look for Me By Moonlight by Mary Downing Hahn, Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde; manga and anime like Vampire Hunter D, Blood the Last Vampire, Vampire Knight, and Vassalord (one of my favs); films like 30 Days of Night, Queen of the Damned, I Am Legend, Underworld, CirqueduFreak, Dracula 2000, Bordello of Blood (maybe I shouldn’t mention it…), Bram Stroker’s Dracula, a host of the classics thanks to my mom, and, I hate to mention it, Twilight (haven’t seen or read it, I refuse to actually, but I did watch Vampires Suck, lol, lol); and some from historical romance and contemporary paranormal romance novels too numerous to name (including but not limited to Teresa Medeiros and J. R. Ward *ewws*). You cannot forget that among the greatest vampire movies, I must add, are the Blade movies (though I have my issues with that Wesley Snipes after I found out about him abusing Halley Berry during their relationship, so disappointed) if only because the main vampire is Black and so very badass. Also there’s Vampire in Brooklyn, with Eddie Murphy (another problematic Black male celebrity/actor/comedian) though it seems to me that this movie is often forgotten (and maybe for good reason…?).
Laurell K. Hamilton’s ABHV series is probably one of the most interesting and ongoing paranormal series I have ever read though portrayals of people of color lycans and vampires and women frustrate me to no end; Hamilton is in no way free of guilt in typecasting Black characters or excluding them altogether from the ABHV books in her heavy-handed exaggeration and perception of overrated white beauty. With the exception of Blade, most of the Black vampires I have ever read or seen are portrayed as villains or sidekick-movie extra-flunkies; this is true of both Eddie Murphy in Vampire in Brooklyn and Aaliyah as Akasha in Queen of the Damned (in the case of villains).
The only book I own that is about Black vampires is an anthology entitled Dark Thirst edited by Angela C. Allen. Out of fear of being disappointed, I never finished reading it and have had it for years. The tag on the front is by Tananarive Due and reads, “A shot of blood with a twist… Vampire mythology has crossed the color line for good.” I don’t really know how true that is and I have my doubts. Not enough published Black writers are on the market producing quality paranormal fiction. Paranormal fiction just seems beyond the Black imagination and as a paranormal/general literary fiction writer, I find that disappointing. At least it’s not very common or popular in the community as I know it. Are Black characters so poorly portrayed by writers like Laurell K. Hamilton because we as Black people do not imagine ourselves in this realm, or do we as a community view vampire stories as for “white folks” like so many other genres of writing and art? Are some things just plain anachronistic and countercultural to Black people that it manifests itself in their work which floods the writer’s market while Black writing remains a small, underrepresented, underfunded, and neglected niche? Or do most white writers just have a screwed up racist perception of Black people? I’ll write another in-depth post about this soon.
I am fascinated by all the types of vampires I’ve read about and seen, both the classical/quintessential and the newly crafted. I am particularly interested in the ones I myself am developing. I hope someday not to have to choose between the types when writing paranormal vampire work and am crafting a world where they all exist simultaneously. Sounds exciting, complicated, and like a lot of pints of blood, yes? ^_^