Successful portrayals of transgender characters include storylines beyond the fact that they are transgender. Transparent focuses not just on Maura (Tambor’s character) but on her family, which includes three selfish children who have their own internal struggles with gender and sexual identity. Laverne Cox’s role in Orange is similar in its depth: She is an adult with a wife and child from when she was biologically male, and her personal storyline centers around those relationships, rather than the fact or science of being transgender.

Orange is at its very base a show about women in a prison, and one of them happens to be transgender. Transparent is a show about a family reacting to change.

It’s important to note that there have been occasionally awareness-raising or complex portrayals of teen transgender and gender identity stories—Glee and House of Lies come to mind. What sets Orange and Transparent apart from those is that they address a population of transgender people that’s sizable and absent from the media—those who transition later in life.

(PoliticusUSA) Dozens of people were arrested and police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse a rioting crowd after a riot broke out in the aftermath of the Keene Pumpkin Festival in Keene, New Hampshire. While the story was reported by national news outlets, the amount of violence and property damage that occurred Saturday afternoon and evening was not sensationalized anywhere near the same manner the Ferguson protests were. USA Today and CNN had rather vanilla headlines with the story. Meanwhile, Fox News buried the story on their main page and MSNBC didn’t even have the story featured on their front page.

Worse, the Keene rioters are generally not described as rioters,but rather “rowdy” students or “drunken revelers.” Further, the people of Keene are being portrayed as the victims of the riot, while the citizens of Ferguson are portrayed as the perpetrators.

There will be no jokes about food stamps or welfare, because the perpetrators are white and that’s not the stereotype. No one will call the Keene rioters “thugs” or suggest the police should have shot them all. No one will point to the scourge of white on white crime. No one will accuse all white parents of not knowing how to raise law-abiding kids.

The difference between the coverage of Ferguson and Keene is the difference between black and white. When someone tells you “it’s not about race,” know they’re wrong.


Using a pencil, not a lens, to capture images of the war in Afghanistan

Photo:PFC Justin Blue of the 3rd Platoon, Apache Troop, 1st Squadron, 75th Calvary Regiment, from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). He is taking a break while on patrol near the village of Qalandrakhel  a few miles outside of Bagram Airfield during an operation to suppress rockets that were being fired onto the base.

It’s never easy to capture the images of a war, even if you’re carrying the best camera money can buy. But what if your only tools to document conflict are a pencil and paper?

That’s the task that Richard Johnson takes on. The experienced graphic artist has traveled several times to Afghanistan and Iraq, where he hand-sketched images of the wars. His latest series for the Washington Post is titled “Drawing up the Drawdown.

Johnson returned to Maryland this week from his latest trip to Afghanistan, and he readily acknowledges the difficulties of his work.

“I have no clue what I’m doing,” he admits. “There is no doubt that when I’m out there — as well-intentioned as I may be — when we’re on patrol, my life is in the hands of those guys. And to a degree you can certainly understand why it takes me a while to gain [the soldiers’] trust, because I am a risk to them.”

He pushed himself to sketch nonstop during this latest trip. “Basically, I didn’t stop drawing for the six weeks I was there,” he says. That included sketching at times when he previously would have stopped.

“Places where I think I would’ve tucked my sketchpad out of the way — like flying with the doors open on a Blackhawk helicopter — I’ve kept my sketchpad in my hand and continued drawing through a lot of those scenarios,” he says.

That resulted in more candid images of the soldiers — and more honest encounters.

“For me, it’s all about these accidental interactions,” he says. “If I can help it, it’s never staged. It’s always completely natural. Either I start drawing, and they ask me what the hell I’m doing, or I talk to them and ask them if I can draw them. Or, at times, I’ll just draw them anyways, and once they’re drawn, I’ll offer them up a sketch depending on what they’re doing.”

While he says his craft isn’t any better or worse than that of a photographer, he does admit that there are intrinsic differences between the two art forms — both in practice and effect.

“The image you’re seeing when you process something I’ve sketched is a much more human image than the camera ever gives you,” he explains. “For people looking at it, there’s a feeling of much more contact there.” He thinks that can be useful for many of the stories that seem to be overloading audiences this year.

It’s great for telling stories where you need people to care about people who are far, far away,” he argue. “So your refugee camps in Syria; internally displaced camps inside Iraq; Ebola in Africa — these are stories I think that it could be used incredibly effectively.”

And not lugging a camera around has an advantage any soldier would appreciate: It lets him skirt just the right side of the rules. “It kind of defies the military restriction on photography,” he explains. “There are places where the pencil has taken me that I don’t think they would allow cameras, at times.”

Johnson admits that documentary sketch art is a limited field — he says there’s only five or six people in the field altogether. Simply proving to publications that his work is valuable is a struggle in itself. But he stands by the idea that sketches can provide something that a photograph can’t.

“I have to work very hard to draw what I see, not what I feel about a person,” he argue. “I think through doing that, I can provide a window for empathy for the viewer, where … they get pulled into something they wouldn’t necessarily read otherwise. It’s a device for making people care.”



Aatrox - Pentakill

Love this picture and the fact that the man in the big powerful exoskeleton suit with the big macho gun is a Black man. There desperately need to be more Black men as heroes and dashing leading men in American movies, television and literature. I like Shonda Rhimes - love her actually and admire her (!!) - but (no shade) I could do without the interracial couple centered fiction. Show me a handsome, intelligent, capable Black leading man who is ready and able to save the day and the Black damsel in distress and I’m in!!

Press TV journalist Serena Shim murdered by Turkey!

Press TV journalist Serena Shim has been killed in Turkey in suspicious circumstances. A few days ago she was accused by the Turkish government of spying because she reported how ISIS militants were constantly crossing the Turkish border into Syria (with full knowledge of the Turkish government & in some cases even help from the government).

The Turkish intelligence agency issued death threats to her & a few days later she met with a road accident.

She was an American citizen of Lebanese descent


Top Fails - Day #341

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For those of you who don’t know I am an avid collector of all things nerdy. Growing up I was the chubby girl with glasses. Personally I always wondered why plus size girls in anime were not seen as cute as other characters. I am super excited that Nitrous has released another mascot, Super Pochaco. Super Pochacho is adorable and portrayed in a cute way. They don’t use her as comedic effect and she rocks outfits better than her predecessor. Work it gurl! I am glad to see there is finally more body acceptance.