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.

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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

Musings on ‘Afro-Futuristic Vision #11 Utopia Sucks’

View this reply with proper spacing (its irking me that a reblog looks like this).

I think what is said here is true to an extent, and I find wisdom in it as I turn it over in my mind…

This argument, however, already assumes ideas about the world and how “nature” supposedly operates (as a dichotomy I guess this would be one of “Order” and Chaos). That’s the problem with a rigid view of all two-sided-looking things (i.e. light and dark, yin and yang, hot and cold, good and evil, god and satan, order and chaos, republicans and democrats, black and white, blah, blah etc. dichotomies). It is a rigid worldview that bows to only two forces and defines everything as one or the other then claims both things are really one force working in tandem to 1) create balance or 2) cause a lack of balance when there is too much of one of them. Its a rationalization mechanism, the trinity of rationalization, the greatest, in fact–

One that divides everything in the universe into one basket or the other. Then says the two baskets are actually one basket that carries everything.

The postulation of utopia simply as escapism, a world devoid of struggle and strife, and a reflection of people’s childish desire to “start over again” is presumptuous and strict in definition and ideology in and of itself. Accepting only war and chaos (and whatever you think is its companion is) sounds like a human mind caving under its need to rationalize the world and everything in it to minimize its own importance or existence within the world. Like passively riding the wave and leaving everything to the ocean just because you a) could drown or b) you could live when the third option is just swim to shore and see how things go from there. Crappy analogy? Sorry. In short, it seems to me to be a very human rationalization for being constantly and continuously embroiled in drama and conflict with no end and no justice. Look at the state of science fiction and general fiction in the mainstream, open up any popular book, and you will see it there: this thirst for drama and conflict that drives so much of the media with no satiation, not because its natural but because its what people expect and have been taught to expect and desire. Space fights, alien invasions, apocalypse, scientific imperialism, interstellar colonialism and Manifest Destiny.

A hurricane may occur naturally.

On the other hand, the levees breaking could’ve been prevented.

So I think the problem is not utopia itself but what the initial argument/definition of what it is as presented in the article or reflection in the first place. Because when you define it like that, it does sound immature, impossible, ridiculous, and ignorant.

Strip utopia of the limitations imposed by this interpretation of the Principle of Opposition and its definition by DjaDja (from what I understand of it), and then…

An actual Utopia just sounds boring to a civilization dominated by greedy brutes like Earth. Its not an environment for drama, mass suffering, violence, and conflict to thrive in. And in the whole of the vastness of the universe, you tryin’ to tell me that utopia, or something close to it, doesn’t exist anywhere? Not buying it.

I agree that if such a thing as utopia were to exist or does exists currently here and now, it is within afrofuturism and in the mind. The definition of utopia to me is not an absence of war, chaos, struggle, or strife but a society bent towards the opposition of evil, injustice, and extreme social disharmony. Utopia is a world where (if you must rely on a dichotomy) good has the most clout and evil wastes itself trying to dominate.

To say war and chaos is natural is to say that it is allowed. To say that it is allowed begs the question of who is allowing it. The only answer I can come up with for that is people. Therefore, its not natural, its manmade. Maybe chaos is natural but war is manmade and when DjaDja added war to the argument, it put his position in perspective for me. Human beings make order out of chaos. What order are you helping to create and maintain? Good or evil, justice or injustice?

On my own spiritual journey, I won’t pretend that I know everything. But I do know that there are at least two sides to every story, not that there are just two sides and nothing else. To state that there are only two things in the world and a balance between them just sounds cynical and defeated. I’m not even sure this made any sense because the dichotomy presented in DjaDja’s article/reflection is so heavy and trying to address it is like walking around in a great big manmade circle.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go write myself a great big afrofuturistic utopia story.

The Renpet Phenomenon

Image

Utopia Sucks

Everyone wants to live in a society that is free from pollution, crime, unemployment and whatever else man allows to ail his soul. This form or construct of social living is called ‘Utopia’.

utopia
1550s, from Mod.L. Utopia, lit. “nowhere,” coined by Thomas More (and used as title of his book, 1516, about an imaginary island enjoying perfect legal, social, and political systems), from Gk. ou “not” + topos “place.” Extended to “any perfect place,” 1610s.
utopian
1550s, with reference to More’s fictional country; 1610s as “extravagantly ideal, impossibly visionary,” from utopia + -ian. As a noun meaning “visionary idealist” it is first recorded c.1873 (earlier in this sense was utopiast, 1854).

Has anyone stopped to think that such an ideal is somewhat childish and creates a blame game. All societies in the world are lead by government and it is government that sets the trend and standard…

View original post 570 more words

Progressive Hyperbole, or, Pathologized Delusions of Freedom and Democracy in the White Imagination

I really tried not to pay any attention to this Spielberg Lincoln film but my sister’s guy friend paid for her to see it and she mentioned it to me. I was beyond disgusted with a waste of money as well as a waste of time, for even my passive sister said that Abraham Lincoln was totally romanticized.

Disney was damned since way before Pocahontas. Quentin Tarantino–HELL NO! And this Lincoln vampire hunter shit and this Spielberg shit–just NO. Y’all really have time and money to be fantasizing about ahistorical narratives of Lincoln as less of an oppressor than he really was and as a vampire hunter, but no time to learn why the very idea is racist and unhelpful to America and probably the world?

The truth? I want more people to be as sick and tired as I am of idiots romanticizing figures like Abraham Lincoln.

I am beyond sick of this country expecting me to worship, shell out money, salute, and place my hand over my heart for white murderers, racists, rapists, slavers, warmongers, and generally well-rounded oppressors. I am tired of watching the deluded masses do so but I’m afraid I’ll have to put up with it for the rest of my life.

Lincoln and Jefferson thought that Black people were inferior. They did not see us as fully human.

Unfortunately, white people tend to romanticize and promote a society which romanticizes their best examples of progressive thinking and activism–and its pathetic. They don’t understand why I am not impressed. Why do I not love and am not grateful to their vaunted heroes for our “liberation”. They are offended by many of our refusals to bow down and worship their golden idols. These people are not my heroes, and yes, I judge the people who validate them.

What’s key here is who has the power. White people wrote laws that enslaved us. They wrote a law that they claim “freed” us. But what they refuse to acknowledge is that the horror and inhumanity is not in enslaving us in the first place but in believing and enforcing the idea that “We can so we did”; they refuse to acknowledge that this is not a power that should belong to them. They refuse to relinquish power, to turn themselves over to nonviolence and equality. Their fault is the blind belief in and justification of their own constructed superiority and greed. That is what makes oppressors. Their belief that they have the right to decide the fate of an entire race for their own purposes.

They put a system in place that locks and keeps us from deciding our own fate in society. They write and white us out of our own histories and culture, miseducate us with theirs, all the time claiming its our own fault we have no power because we lack ambition, care, and intelligence, we lack civility, know how, and a sense of fair play. They’ve never understood that their inhumanity lies in the fact that they think our lives are games.

As long as there are monuments, of any kind, predominately built and dedicated to corrupt white men who were unapologetically dedicated to oppression all over this country, as long as this country refuses to acknowledge its past and continues to white out the “unpleasant” portions of its history for the people it has always benefited (white racists and their agents), it will never know peace, it will never justice, it will never know god, trust, liberty, or equality. America cannot transform and truly live by all the things it claims it stands for.

Did Mystique really just say, ‘I don’t answer to my slave name’

Now let me tell you all the things that are wrong with this.

  1. Conflating Black civil rights movements with fictional white characters (Mystique is played by a white woman, her parents were probably white)
  2. Mutants don’t have “slave names”, people taken from Africa and enslaved by whites, however, were forced and brutalized into taking Christian/white European names, language, “culture”, and religion
  3. Mutants may prefer not to be addressed by their given names, but they, again, do not have “slave names”
  4. Slavery and Black justice movements and cultural consciousness should never be conflated with fictional white characters created by white writers
  5. Mystique is being used as a metaphor because of the literal color of her skin and appearance…and it would be compelling and acceptable if she was actually Black and not a fictional blue character in a comic book series

I understand what they were going for and this is why its just unacceptable.

‘Ghost Whisperer’–Aisha Tyler and “ghost hunters”

I was reading this post and Aisha Tyler was mentioned.

Now I’m not following her career or anything, but I was really pissed when Aisha Tyler was killed off on Ghost Whisperer, which I’ve already written my thoughts about.

She was the colorblind Black sidekick (to Jennifer Love Hewitt’s weepy character who cried at the end of almost every episode for the two seasons that I watched). My perception of how they handled her position on the show fluctuated and finally flopped with her not-unexpected death.

I kind of liked Ghost Whisperer at first, my mom turned me on to it. And when they killed of Aisha Tyler’s character, I was pretty much done with it.

In relation, the spiritual realm, all these things people are calling occult or supernatural, is just another whitewashed fad, more so now than ever it seems. All these shows on the air about white people dealing with spirits are for shits, giggles, and thrills, there’s no respect, just profit and entertainment.

My mom happened to be watching Paranormal State. This episode talked about the team visiting a haunted jail in Charleston, South Carolina. Apparently they were talking about slavery and Black people were imprisoned there and tortured. The title of the episode is “Spirits of the Slave Dungeon”.

A Black anthropologist basically explained to the team (with lots of emphasis on the white members) going in there that their reasons for going in were purely selfish and the people who had suffered there deserved respect. Which is exactly how I feel about plantations that are used as tourist attractions. I think Black people should be able to go there and leave offerings to their ancestors without white, capitalist invasion.

I’m done with this because places of such suffering and unaddressed injustice shouldn’t be used for entertainment.

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