Spy…

Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy…

I can’t believe I’m saying this.

I think I kind of…liked it.

Arguably, the writing of Spy was more true to satire (than, for example, a show like Family Guy which I am not a fan of). I read Spy initially as the kind of fiction that isn’t necessary meant to degrade fat women but more draw attention to fat stereotypes and machismo. It shows a fat woman being tough, capable, confident, calling out b.s. to an extent, and getting over a guy she’s attached to who obviously sees her in a not flattering light romantically.

There was a joke about Black people in there that pissed me off but I even thought that was handled in a way that I could deal with at the moment when McCarthy’s character says, “That’s not appropriate” and it was over.

Not to sing the film praises or those of Melissa McCarthy or anything. I never wanted to see the movie because of that trailer they played to death on television  around its release date of McCarthy getting that that motorcycle stuck in the wet cement. I assumed it was just another two-hour, thinly veiled attack on fat women using a desperate fat woman to do it. I would stare at McCarthy on that freaking scooter stuck in that concrete with absolute woe and burning contempt.

But even I laughed when I gave Spy a chance. I was glad to just be able to see a comedy, starring a fat woman, and for once just fucking laugh.

Opinionated Man is back

I’ve run across obnoxious people online before but I’ve never had them stalk me from blog to blog. This guy is fast becoming a wad of chewing gum stuck to the bottom of my shoe that I just can’t scrape off, the first point of contact being when I had the misfortune of visiting his blog in the first place. I have no idea why he feels the need to follow my blogs and comment when he knows I feel this way about him and also what I know about his brand of social commentary/expression of his opinions. I thought I made this very clear–

I have no interest in engaging with him. But I guess if enough people follow your blog and tell you you’re right, you start thinking everyone wants to hear what you have to say. I think he writes other things, though I’m not really interested in knowing more about an “opinionated” man who doesn’t know when to shut up and back off because his opinions aren’t wanted.

I view myself as a passionate person and while I sympathize to some minimum extent with what he so obviously thinks his blogging is about, what I do and what he does are too completely different things. What is the point of his online persona, other than to purposefully offend everybody and what does that give to the world? What is the point of glibly and unnecessarily challenging and disrespecting life experiences, thoughts, feelings, and struggles you obviously know nothing about and see fit to devalue? Because he is this way and makes a conscious choice to do what he does in complete blind and utter ignorance, there is no reason or way for me to engage or reason with him that wouldn’t be a waste of my time and energy, like so many of his predecessors.

So I was looking to see if this guy was for real, outside of face value, and ironically enough I came across a perfect article on what he is and how to deal with him.

Opinionated people are people who announce their opinions multiple times without being asked. Sure, sometimes opinions can just be slipped out, but if it becomes a habit then it’s a problem. These people are not bad, but they just earn the reputation of “annoying”. In life, we might come across a few opinionated people….

1. Understand what qualifies for “opinionated”. People who are opinionated usually have little or no respect/value for the beliefs of others, however, this varies. Also, opinionated people have an opinion on every single thing. They will announce their opinion in public, and get irritated or mad when someone else respectfully criticizes their opinion. Opinionated people will often assume that you care or are interested in hearing their opinion, and even if they know you aren’t, they still will announce it anyway.

2. Look at the below templates, as these will help you recognize more on the definition for opinionated. Notice how the second template is much more respectful then the first one.

  • Bad Opinionated: I like pizza, but people who don’t like it are stupid.
  • Non Opinionated: I like pizza, but if you don’t, then that’s fine too.

3. Show the person that you really don’t care. Listen to their view of things and respect it, but don’t think you are required to believe the same thing. You cannot “modify” the person’s behavior or opinions.

4. Speak up! This is vitally important. If the opinionated person says something that is offensive or disrespectful to what you believe, don’t let it pass by. Tell the opinionated person respectfully that your opinion are just as valuable as theirs. If they get “mad” about what you said, then it’s their problem to overcome. They shouldn’t be offended if you’re just standing up for yourself.

5. Try to avoid the opinionated person. This doesn’t mean you can’t spend any time with them at all, but keep your distance […] just remember, keep your distance.

“Darwin”, X-Men: First Class, a whole post to itself

What really got me is this meaningful moment where Kevin Bacon’s character, Sebastian Shaw, looks at “Darwin”, played by Edi Gathegi (Kenyan?), and makes a clear reference to slavery, the “enslavement” of mutants. [This after we’ve seen this fuckery of two white d00des (known as Magneto and Xavier) lounging in front of the Lincoln Memorial playing chess, talking about freedom; after witnessing a mixed raced (Angel/Zoe Kravitz) woman being asked “How would like to have a job where you get to keep your clothes on?” by a white wealthy British man.]

Now, what really, REALLY gets me is that Darwin’s ability is “adapt to survive”. Of course, within the first official demonstration of his abilities, they would script/plot an attack that he CANNOT ADAPT TO! A regurgitated attack from a white mutant, one of his fellows, that kills him.

“Jesus, man, you are killin’ me!” Darwin says to Havoc moments before Havoc’s own powers are used by another white character, the villain, to do just that.

What does this teach us? White villains offering freedom are not your friends and neither are white allies. Even when they aren’t trying, they’re dangerous to our survival.

And we end things the way we started them: with white characters as the good guys. White people are the ones to go stop the war and be the heroes, divided yet heroes.

It teaches us that once a white man decides you’re going to die, other white people are used against you and you will, indeed, die, even if your power is to “adapt to survive”.

Let’s not even discuss how his nickname is “Darwin”, and he is named for Charles Darwin, with that survival of the fittest bullshit and other ideologies used to further racism.

Darwin is a sympathetic yet cruel mix between what I call the three archetypes:

  1. The Dead Weight: a character who must die in order for the plot/story to go on
  2. The Sacrificial Lamb: a character who is dispensable and his death or life makes no difference to the plot
  3. The Catalyst: a character who is usually killed to inspire the heroes to fight on (Phil in The Avengers is a recent example but he was white.)

For Darwin, his death being excused as a Catalyst falls flat, as he is never mentioned again after the X-Men mobilizes with any importance. So it only stands to reason that he falls most securely in the categories of Dead Weight in the interest of white heroes even after his Blackness is used as a foothold for references and allusions to slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. Co-opting and appropriation abound, as long as a token is present.

Darwin’s ability is to “adapt to survive”, yet he doesn’t adapt, ends up dead without a scrap to even bury. He is made invisible and erased from the film, while we chalk up yet another Black character for the Hollywood Film’s “Killed Off/Killed Off First” List.

Even in fiction, its still a white man’s game. Real power lies in the ability to manipulate and influence people’s dreams, imaginations, and fantasies. They can say your power is to adapt to survive and in the same breath kill you by writing the story so that you can’t adapt if they say you can’t.

But I guess you can’t expect anything from the people who enslaved and continue to oppress you, who have always used you for profit and entertainment.

why racism in Harry Potter [does not equal] racism in real life

For people who think racism in Harry Potter and racism in real life are actually comparable.

Today, the KKK is treated like some kind of myth. And its also treated as fodder for fiction.

As Halloween approaches, I wonder how many white people are going to don pointed hoods as costumes…and how many of them actively wear it as their creed. Because, for real, I typed “death eater” into Google search and “death eater costume” came up. It’s beyond me why anybody would want to be what a death eater represents. I barely understand why anybody would want to be a Slytherin, giving that Salazar Slytherin was, you guessed it, a flaming racist! That’s like saying “Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson are my idols” to me.

It was very triggering for me to watch Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and see these crackers dressed up in robes and pointed hoods, calling themselves death eaters. It is triggering to constantly see people using Harry Potter as a comprehensive guide and metaphor to racism and whiteness in Europe, the most racist place on the planet, and the United States.

The metaphor or analogy for racism falls apart because the main characters are white, and the majority of the characters in the book are white. It erases race, because white people can be muggle born, half-blood, or pure blood—in real life, off the page, racism does not work like that. The Black experience is not trans-racial, and its not to be co-opted by whites who are complicit in Black people’s oppression. Whites are usually the perpetrators,the instigators, and the maintainers of racism against everybody else, its well documented no matter how they try to erase it. [I’ve talked about this before here somewhere, I can feel it in my bones.] So its ridiculous to use Harry Potter as a metaphor for racism in the real world, instead of just as a starting point for clueless whites and children.

Even then, its important for white people to understand that in real life they are usually the villains, not innocent bystanders, not allies and friends, not the heroes. That’s important for children to know. Erasing centuries of white imperialism and colonialism, Rowling has, inadvertently or purposefully, created a world in which white people can escape and feel that they are the victims of racism and blood quantum, instead of the recipients of white privilege that are direct results of white terrorism. And, off the page, it just doesn’t work that way.

Revisiting Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2: Black folks

This is what I wrote initially, please read to the end for the post script. My displeasure here shows.

Shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer are just like wounds that I can’t stop picking at because they never heal anyway no matter how long I leave them alone. Days, months, years, a decade. Doesn’t matter. When it comes up, I like it until I remember why I started hating it.

I’ve been unfortunately reliving Buffy with my sister, who has all the sociological awareness of a teaspoon. She doesn’t care about herself let alone Black people’s history or positions in society so its kind of pointless talking with her about the finer points of racism in a show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Why? She goes into her everything’s-not-‘Black-and-white’ mode, a fallacious argument given the context considering the fact that for seven seasons, 144 episodes, the majority of the Buffy cast is white and Black folks/people of color rarely appear and when they do they end up dead, with the exception of Robin Wood, the butt of some latently/overtly racist fun-having humor, sex objects, or doomed to disappear into set extra/side character hell.

Bones I just pick with portrayals of people of African descent:

  • The First Slayer
  • Kendra
  • Robin Woods
  • Nikki Woods
  • Forest
  • That evil demon woman played by Ashanti

But I’m kind of satisfied that this happened. It forced me into the mood to update this blog.

The sooner we stop trying to make racism out to be an arbitrary anomaly, the sooner we can really educate people about it for a better future.

UPDATE: Later, we talked about our disagreement and my sister explained that television is her escape from her own problems and even though she may be aware of issues of racism in what she sees and hears. All my sociological analysis ruins for her. I just stopped watching near the end of the series and refused to continue and that hurt her feelings because she wanted to watch it with me. I remembered why I wasn’t thrilled about the final season in particular period, especially that situation between Spike and Robin Woods.

I get that. I do but that doesn’t change my low tolerance for television entertainment drenched and sopping in ads pumped full of racism, sexism, classism, etc. We cannot continue to actively support the media that oppresses us.

Evermore,

~MsQ

Revisiting Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer

As a kid, I was happy to sit down for forty-four minutes and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel every evening. This was back when I had hope for television and their potential for creating great shows.

My sister and I have recently begun trying to get back in touch with why we loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Watching the show now, I realized something I never wanted to see as a kid:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its producers have never been very kind to characters of color nor has the show ever had any permanent 3-dimensional characters of color. Even the supposedly Black female slayer, Kendra, didn’t survive the third season.

This is a trend that carried over to Angel. As a matter of fact, the first extras we see in the show who plays parts of any significance is a Black guy dressed as a loan shark demon creature whose harrassing Doyle and the other one is a lonely body-snatching demon. Gunn was a Black male stereotype from f*king hell created by white producers!

Not to mention the ever-lurking presence of white British European power, oppression, and authority presented in Giles, Wesley, and the Watcher’s Council itself. Let’s not forget also that the only [Black (British) woman]/woman of color who appears in the show by the fourth season with any amount of screen time is Gile’s little sex friend.

Buffy and Angel are funny and entertaining in some ways, even thoughtful, and I still enjoy it enough to watch some of it, but in other ways…not so funny or entertaining or thoughtful at all.

More to come?

~MsQ

To White Writers

It would be less insulting if white writers, academics, and producers would just say, Its beyond the realm of my capabilities and experience to portray 3-dimensional characters of color who aren’t foils, gags, typecasted to the maximum, or supporting characters. It would much less insulting to just admit this rather than:

1. pretending that they can and failing,

2. supposing that they can and not trying,

3. and/or appropriating aspects of other cultures and misrepresenting them to entertain largely white audiences.

Just say you can’t do it. Put us all out of our misery. I’m not saying they all suck at this…just that most of them probably do.

Ever more real,

Ms. Queenly

Brown People = Sex: The Matrix Reloaded & Hypersexualizing Brownness

Brown People = Sex: The Matrix Reloaded & Hypersexualizing Brownness

I’m pretty sure that I’m not the first person to say this. When I first saw The Matrix, it became the standard of film and story for me. I thought it was awesome, like so many other fans of the film. I could deal with the fact that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) or Captain Naomi (Jada Pinkett Smith) are technically just supporting character instead of The One himself/herself. To this day I still have a problem with the fact that Morpheus, in particular, had the potential to be The One and got pushed to the left for Neo (Keanu Reeves). But overall, I thought it

Once I saw The Matrix Reloaded, the second film in the trilogy, my perspective shifted a little bit. Even today, I cannot watch the movie from beginning to end and do not own it in my movie collection. The reason is because of that big orgy scene in the movie when Neo and Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss) are having sex.

There is this stereotypically tribal-like music drummed out during the scene. Neo and Trinity are off in their own private space and there are cuts between them having sex and the crazy party where everyone else is grinding on each other, jumping into the air, dancing, maybe even having sex, and just plain carrying on in this crowded, sweaty, semi-dark torch lit cave. A lot of the people in the cave seem to be brown skinned.

As an erotic romance writer, I do feel as if it is kind of contradictory for me to be saying this in a way, but even when I write and in real life, I have standards of intimacy that I uphold. So I wonder, is this scene in The Matrix Reloaded a celebration of life, intimacy, and “unity”, or just a reaffirmation of how white dominated society—film, music video, and all “departments” of Hollywood itself in particular—hypersexualize Black people/Brown folks as the epitome of savagery and primordial sexuality?

Is this just another demonstration of how white people, white filmmakers and photographers, pathologize Black people/Brown people or brownness as the earthy, animalistic, unrestrained, wild, and sexual?

Bear with me until the end, the language is about to get a little high and academic, please excuse me.

It reminds me of why many white people tan: to them it’s not just about “getting a little color”. White people tan because they have pathologized brownness to such a level that they don’t even think about it anymore, particularly Blackness—meaning that in their own heads, Black/brown skinnededness equals savage, dark sexuality. But by being people that only have tan/”browned” skin temporarily in most cases, they maintain their position as dominant whites  dressed in browned/tanned skin, “trying on Blackness/brownness” to be fad and hypersexualized for the moment. It’s the closest to being Black that they can get in reality in the absence of the option of temporarily becoming Black and they enjoy and are thrilled that they can momentarily be what they believe simultaneously to be the lowest or most base sexuality and the height of the sexually primordial in popular media—brown.

In Reloaded, Neo and Trinity don’t have to tan or become Black somehow. The “orgy scene” inside of the cave which is revealed in a montage of cuts and flashes while Neo and Trinity are having sex symbolizes a degree of savage “brown” sexuality that their white skin cannot completely embody by itself. It doesn’t matter that the people inside of the cave aren’t actually having sex. The fact they are in a separate area away from the “party” and at the same time Neo and Trinity having sex is still put next to the sexualized action of the brown people in the cave only makes it more clear that—again—savage, sensuous, primordially base sexuality in the movie is embodied in brown-skinned people and not in the white skinned heroes of the movies.

Point in case again (if this makes it any simpler):

The sexuality of the two “white-skinned” people (Keanu Reeves is Hawaiian/Chinese–generally multiracial-part white) engaging in sex is further personified by flashes to a cave full of brown people (though not exclusively brown) grinding and slithering sensuously on each other and acting wild to the beat of drums. Both main characters in the film, Neo and Trinity go on to be the “white-skinned” heroes in action, their repressed/latent sexuality contained in their fitted black clothes while at the same time it still remains that you see the most Black/brown people out of the whole damn film and the whole damn trilogy jammed in that cave engaged in sexualized action.

Personally, I’m offended by it and somewhat disappointed and uncomfortable but not surprised.

I’m done!

Ms. Queenly

Issued: Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon [Anime Adaption]

Please keep in mind that this article is about the anime based off Takeuchi’s work and it assumes that for the most part the anime and the manga match up.

“Thinking about how this sort of thing works, I am reminded of an AMV I saw last night on my iPod (see above) which focuses heavily on the “magical girl” transformations of Sailor Moon especially. The emphasis on women already being fairly strong, but also transforming into forms that aren’t overly sexualizing or animalizing seems to be more admirable. Though it is a bit problematic for the show to essentially conflate images of lithe, short-skirted, and magical lip-stick-wearing teens with beauty, purity, and heroism, it seems also a possible source of empowerment considering that these women fight for themselves, for others, and for each other using the power of their hearts, their wills, their agencies. The whole heart crystal thing is beautiful, in that it offers a way to be true to ones feelings and emotions without relegating them to some crystallized “essence” of femininity. There are still some things wrong with the portrayal of the Sailor Scouts, but I think there are a lot of things to appreciate about a story coming out of a birthing feminist awareness and desire to depict women’s agencies in manga and anime. I wish I could see some more of it (remembering that I was young when I saw it first…I even cried when it ended its run on CN). The matter of transformation is certainly important, authors use the transformation to tell us more about the characters inner qualities, the exposure of their potentials and an idea of secrets revealed. Kubo did no favors to Sun Sun, Mila Rose, Apache, and Halibel in their transformations (even though their toughness and determination was a nice breath of fresh air), Takeuchi at least allowed women to be more positively “transformed” into versions of themselves expressing outwardly the emotional, mental, and spiritual powers that are internal at all times, though she still has some issues of stereotyped “beauty” and “valor” to work out there.”

This article has been in my thoughts but came about after a correspondence I had with a good friend of mine on the topic of Halibel Tia, Mila Rose, Sun Sun, and Apache from Tite Kubo’s Bleach. I asked if I could post part of our conversation (the eloquent and sincere commentary above) and my friend agreed.

I consider this to be a tribute to what I both love and hate about Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon dubbed, edited, and somewhat torn apart for American television. I was so excited to learn, on Wiki for what its worth, that there’s a Sailor Moon revival in the works. All the years I saw Sailor Moon anime collection on sale, subbed and dubbed, and never scrapped up enough money to get it–how I regret that! By the time I realized that most anime comes from a manga, Sailor Moon the manga wasn’t even available anymore. I will be using the terms Sailor Soldiers and Sailor Scouts in this article although I prefer Soldier since Scout makes me think of little girls in berets trying to sell me cookies. 0_0

  1. blond hair, blue eyes AGAIN?: This is the same issue I have with Naruto and it doesn’t help that Sailor Moon and Sailor Venus look so much alike and are popular characters. Why are white characteristics consistently being mapped onto main characters, presenting them as the essential aspects of magical messiah-like characters? I admit, I like the brightness of the colors, but I don’t like what they potentially present on these pale-skinned heroes. Why’s the blond with pacifistic powers gotta have the top spot?
  2. By the purity of their hearts?: I understand it in a metaphorical, metaphysical way but I don’t think Sailor Moon’s power would be able to combat real violence. I’ve seen it and experienced it in my life so that part of me that has experience more than my share of hard knocks is unimpressed with the pacifistic sentiments in the show. In order to save yourself and others, there may come a time when force is necessary.
  3. Love, love, love the transformation: I don’t care if it’s the same every episode, I just like to see them. There’s something in those representations of power that I just love, that transcendence of normality. I felt like I was transforming with the girls, into a powerful self that could fight evil and dish out justice.
  4. slut-shaming: The villains were often portrayed as skanky in revealing outfits with fuller, curvier figures, often showing  cleavage (though some of Sailors did, too).
  5. Uranus and Neptune, cousins?–Oh please!!!: They are so totally not cousins and I hated how Disney censored their relationship because it’s not heterosexual. This is the epitome of the lies suburban white folks tell their curious kids at the dinner table when they ask about two women/men kissing. I think they’re beautiful and I always have. As a matter of fact it confused me even more when I tried to understand whhhy they were being presented as cousins instead of lovers.
  6. Villains outfits again: I actually like the villains outfits and actually find them brighter, sharper, cooler, more mature, and sexier than the Sailor Scout’s/Sailor Senshi (Soldiers) uniforms sometimes.
  7. Young vs. old: With the exception of Luna and Queen Serenity, who appears to us in cat form for a vast portion of airtime between the movies and the anime, women past their tweens are largely villainized in the series. This could be read as a metaphor for how age sometimes comes with the loss of one’s dreams and spirit, bitterness, and a negative sense of disillusionment. Even with this reading, I find it kind of disappointing that only royalty and their servants, and, as my friend said, long-legged “lithe, short-skirted magical lipstick-wearing teens” can be good role models for young women and represent “beauty, purity, and heroism”.
  8. Sailor Stars: Not that I really minded, but I had to watch the Sailor Stars season in Japanese because American producers thought it was too complicated and risqué for their closeted audiences. This trio has a lot of significance for me and I’ve heard some transgender folks referencing the Sailor Stars as well. I would have liked to have seen it brought to America in English. Considering how they botched, censored, and edited the other seasons though, I don’t know how great it would have been….
  9. Sailor Mercury and Sailor Venus: All the other Sailor Soldiers, with the exception of Sailor Moon herself, had physical powers—Jupiter had lightning, Mars had fire, Neptune had water, and Uranus could crash like an earthquake. But Venus had…what? Love? And Mercury had, like…bubbles 0_o
  10. the moon as female: It’s both positive and potentially negative that the moon is portrayed as female. The representation of the moon is rooted in many myths but in a few words, its beauty, paleness, remoteness, and its relationship to the Earth. Mamoru (Prince Darien) represents earth and Usagi (Princess Serena) represents the Moon. In a negative way, the moon and earth metaphor reinforces not only heterosexist norms and Eurocentrism, but maintains certain ideas about beauty and women.
  11. Tuxedo Mask is the worst male archetype: There is definitely a European motif in Sailor Moon, starting with Tuxedo Mask, his tuxedo, his mask, his gloves, and his top hat. He literally appears to save the day when Sailor Moon is being an idiot.
  12. Saturn is the emo one–with her goth, lace-up fetish boots: Sailor Saturn probably has the most awesome power, seeing as how she can end the world by lowering her glaive. Too bad she doesn’t appear very often and everybody spent most of the series confusing her with Mistress 9.
  13. makeup compacts, mirrors, nail poilish, lipstick, pendants, butterflies, hearts, bubbles, flowers, crystals and jewels, unicorn, earrings, tiaras, gloves, ribbons and bows, sailor fuku, short skirts, pumps, boots, and high heels: that’s all I’m saying….
  14. Pegasus and Mini-Moon: One thing that bothered me about the relationship between Mini-Moon and Pegasus is the fact that it is contingent upon her innocence as a child. In the episode where Mini-Moon becomes a teenager and Sailor Moon is turned into a child, Pegasus would not answer Mini-Moon’s call with the crystal bell. As if every adult has no innocence and no dreams, he does not appear to her in this form.
  15. Essentially Feminist: As central as guys are to the majority heterosexual characters in the show, Sailor Moon is a show about girls and women running things, not guys running countries and planets. Otherwise the show would be about Mamoru running Earth instead of the moon queen and princess of the Moon. Take that Kubo’s Bleach and Kishimoto’s Naruto!