“In the original Trek, Khan, with his brown skin, was an Übermensch, intellectually and physically perfect, possessed of such charisma and drive that despite his efforts to gain control of the Enterprise, Captain Kirk (and many of the other officers) felt admiration for him. And that’s why the role has been taken away from actors of colour and given to a white man. Racebending.com has always pointed out that villains are generally played by people with darker skin, and that’s true … unless the villain is one with intelligence, depth, complexity. One who garners sympathy from the audience, or if not sympathy, then — as from Kirk — grudging admiration. What this new Trek movie tells us, what JJ Abrams is telling us, is that no brown-skinned man can accomplish all that. That only by having Khan played by a white actor can the audience engage with and feel for him, believe that he’s smart and capable and a match for our Enterprise crew.”—
Marissa Sammy on Star Trek: Into Whiteness.
perfect commentary which parallels what Rawles was saying earlier about the possibility of Moriarty being a person of color:
- “…The actual issue is that black people aren’t often allowed to play full and complete characters, and an antagonist who isn’t unintelligent, thuggish cannon fodder is just as much of a rarity for black men as the stubbly hero who saves the world or wtfever. “
- “…The stereotype in no way intersects with brilliant geniuses who choose to step outside of the boundaries of society in order to exercise their intellect while having no concern for lesser beings.
Or to break it down further: the problematic stereotype regarding black people is that of being, in essence, subhuman. Characters of the Moriarty (and Holmes) archetype are rooted in being superhuman.”
You see? It’s more complicated than “people of color get typecast as villains.”
Black people get typecast as an extremely specific type of villain - they’re thugs, brutish and animalistic. South Asian actors are similarly typecast as scary oppressive (usually coded Muslim) terrorists.
But when your villain is of the superhuman archetype? When they’re brooding antiheroes, when they’re nuanced, when they’re multi-faceted?
(And check out this post on the glorification of white criminality in shows like Dexter, Breaking Bad, Weeds, Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, etc.)
There’s something really screwed up about the way we talk about queer representation in children’s media.
In the U.S. culture at least, there’s this instantaneous association of queer people with sex. Queer people are automatically highly sexual individuals—ergo, not ‘appropriate’ for the eyes of little kids, all of whom MUST BE STRAIGHT, RIGHT, whose heads we think would probably just explode when confronted with the oh-so-incomprehensible suggestion of gender and sexual orientation diversity existing on this planet.
Deeply ironic since—oh let’s look at Avatar the Last Airbender, the show. It features kids at ages 12-16 kissing (always het, of course)—and even strongly implies that two characters are engaging or planning to engage in some heavy petting at night. No one screams for the sexual neurosis of the child fans.
But it’s impossible for, eh, a ten year old on the sequel show to be queer, maybe have a crush on someone of the same gender. That would just make straight
adults kids uncomfortable, obviously!
People who would like to see the queer community represented (aka most of us queer people) are forced to preface any sort of headcanon or fan theory about a character being gay or trans* with, “I know this would never happen in a kid’s show/I know this isn’t true,” because… the idea of an ACTUAL CANONICAL QUEER CHARACTER IN A KID’S SHOW IS—just not possible, right?
Because if we don’t acknowledge the absurdity of actual representation while saying, “hey, I read this character as a lesbian,” people will hammer us with “THAT’S NOT POSSIBLE, IT’S NOT TRUE, THIS IS A KID’S SHOW, STOP TALKING ABOUT KIDS THAT WAY, YOU’RE MAKING ME UNCOMFORTABLE, KIDS SHOULDN’T THINK ABOUT THINGS LIKE THAT.”
As if we aren’t aware of the impossibility of ever seeing people like ourselves in children’s entertainment.
As if we need to be told that we will only ever be seen as perverse deviants.
As if we need to be told that no one wants to see us.
But I have to ask you, person concerned with the frailty of our children’s minds:
What do you think that tells queer kids?
I’ll tell you, from my own experience as a child who knew they were queer:
- It tells us that we’re gross, that we’re not appropriate to be seen by other children, or even anyone.
- It tells us that we are perversely sexual.
- It tells us that we’re not normal.
- It tells us that we’re not as important as straight, NORMAL children.
- It tells us that we deserve to be neglected and ignored.
- It tells us that we’re alone, that queer children like us don’t exist.
A phrase I see around fandom a lot is, “People just aren’t ready for a kid’s show with/about a gay character (much less a trans* kid).”
So I’m just going to throw it out there—
When do you think people will be ready?
If you heard a tv show about a gay kid was going to premiere next year, would you be okay with it at that time?
How about in five years?
When are queer kids going to be able to pick up a book or turn on the tv and see someone like them, a queer character, to let them know that they’re not alone; that it’s fine to be whoever and whatever they are; that they’re not abnormal; to realize hey, I think I am like this person; to have a way to talk to their family about their identity; so that they maybe won’t have to learn self-loathing at such a young age?
What exactly do you think needs to change this to happen?
Perhaps a better question: When are YOU going to be okay with it?
And why aren’t you okay with it now?
the level of annoyance I am experiencing today, y’all…
yeah you heard me, they meant Dr. King the civil rights hero, Dr. King whose revolutionary politics of resistance were inextricable from his blackness, Dr. King who is one of the few black political figures who HASN’T been quietly removed from the history books.
because your heroes aren’t your own. your martyrs aren’t your own. your stories & struggles aren’t your own. any moderately talented white dude can embody any of your people, can represent any of your stories.
(what the fuck kind of narrative about resistance, about uprising, about fighting back against racism, are you gonna tell when you cast Benedict Cumberbatch to play MLK? I mean seriously WHAT THE FUCK?)
how come none of these people ever ask themselves, “why can’t I relate to a character’s heroism if they’re not white? why can’t I appreciate a character’s power or complexity if they’re not white? why am I unable to engage with any story ever if it’s not whitewashed to hell and back? what does that say about me and how I view humanity?”
do you really think that all the people on the planet who lived, are living, or will live - all the humans who are amazing or interesting or heroic or brilliant, all those humans whose stories are worth telling - do you really think they’re all white?
if not, then how come you keep telling story after story centering white dudes? how come you can’t imagine anyone else, ever?
I know people hate those 'THE 90s WERE SO GREAT, NOSTALGIA' posts
But sometimes I go, “FUCK YOU, THE 90s WERE GREAT.”
Because I was a little black girl in the 90s and I grew up on shows that had a large black cast and focused on black families.
And television had a lot more diversity back then and I will never say the 90s were perfect, but that was one thing I really appreciated so. And diversity on TV has gone down the shitter, so yes, I am justified for being nostalgic for the 90s. And I feel awful for the children of color who are growing up on mostly white media and only have like 1 or 2 characters to look at.
So, the 90s were great, bite me~
“She'd never really liked the book. It seemed to her that it tried to tell her what to do and what to think. Don't stray from the path, don't open that door, but hate the wicked witch because she is wicked. Oh, and believe that shoe size is a good way of choosing a wife. A lot of the stories were highly suspicious, in her opinion. There was the one that ended when the two good children pushed the wicked witch into her own oven. Tiffany had worried about that after all that trouble with Mrs Snapperly. Stories like this stopped people thinking properly, she was sure. She'd read that one and thought, Excuse me? No one has an oven big enough to get a whole person in, and what made the children think they could just walk around eating people's houses in any case? And why does some boy too stupid to know a cow is worth a lot more than five beans have the right to murder a giant and steal all his gold? Not to mention commit an act of ecological vandalism? And some girl who can't tell the difference between a wolf and her grandmother must either have been as dense as teak or come from an extremely ugly family. The stories weren't real. But Mrs Snapperly had died because of stories.”—The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
“Here’s what we know about queer representation on TV: It changes everything. It changes things for straight people who have never met a gay person in their lives. It humanizes us. It opens the door for us into the living rooms of “mainstream” America and we sit down with these people who don’t know us and we have dinner with these people who don’t know us and we make them laugh and we make them cry and they come away knowing that there’s one kind of folks. And it changes everything for gay people too. We are, all of us, born with an ancient need to stretch ourselves across the fictional universes of other people’s stories. If they can be heroes, we can be heroes. If they can find love, we can find love. If they can crash and bleed and break and claw their way back to redemption, well, then, so can we. If a young gay boy can get thrown into a dumpster and crawl out and come out and sing his way into the most prestigious fine arts school in the country where he can banish his bullies with a song in his heart and a smile on his face, we can really believe that it gets better. And if a young gay girl can break through walls she spent a lifetime building, stare down her deepest, darkest fears, and find the courage to crack open her own heart, we can be brave enough to love out loud too. When I call Glee out on its misogyny, on its double standard of gay/straight physical affection, on its unwillingness to commit to its character development and tell us their real truths, it’s not because I’m jaded and cynical and like the sound of my own angry voice. It’s because when Glee does it right, it does it better than anyone. It heals us on a soul-balm level. I’ve written before about how constellations are nothing more than stories, the joining-up of unrelated points of light by people who wanted to make sense of the universe. When we look at the night sky, it’s not a jumble of glowing chaos. It’s Orion. It’s the Big Dipper. It’s Leo the Nemean Lion. And when we look at our own lives in the context of the stories we’ve been told, we’re not lost and alone and abandoned in a turbulent world without hope. We’re Blaine. We’re Brittany. We’re Santana. We’re Unique. And when people who don’t know us — not really, not physically, not yet — try to work out whether or not we’re like them, the same thing is true: We are Kurt Hummel. We hurt and we love and we hope. Oh, we hope. And sometimes we do it looking fierce in one-sleeved woolen ponchos. So, yes: I am a woman on a mission. And when Santana Lopez says “AfterEllen” out loud on Fox, five years after there were exactly zero lesbians on any major network, it only strengthens my resolve. It also makes me feel like the first time I went out on a date with another girl and she flicked her eyes up at me coyly over her beer and I was like, “Oh Jesus, she’s going to kiss me. Another girl is going to kiss me.” And she did kiss me, all gentle and firm and delicious and hops and jalapenos, and my heart ricocheted around in my chest like a pinball and my lungs forgot to do their job and all of my blood rushed to the surface of my skin, and I think what happened next was that I blacked out. It’s like, Naya Rivera is saying “AfterEllen.” I see her lips going, “AfterEllen.” But it sounds to me very much like, “I love you.” ”—
- from Heather Hogan’s (afterelton.com) fantastic review of Glee ep 4.13, Diva.
ETA: Where I come from, ANY interaction between queer couples that shows signs of potential affection, or demonstrates that they are actually in a relationship is censored (hey, a silver-lining to the Klaine breakup? On TV here…it never happened. Because I suppose we weren’t suppose to think they had anything to break up in the first place……!). I therefore have a very, very deep appreciation for all the little things that push the boundaries of what the Powers That Be let us see through their glasses of discrimination, prejudice, homophobia and heteronormativity.
I know we want MORE queer visibility, more equality between the characters, and yes, we should absolutely demand more. But I’d also like to state how much it means to me, a queer kid in a country that throws us in prison for being gay, that I can see Blaine in all his glorious fabulousity as a Diva, or his blessed-incurable case of hearteyes that the Powers haven’t figured out how to censor yet [I can absolutely imagine them pixelating out his eyes every time he looks at Kurt! ssshh..no one tell them], or watch a character like Kurt Hummel -an incredible embodiment of someone who is so amazingly strong, powerfully different and represents so much of what they want to hide from us- come alive on my TV, or hear Santana uttering the words ‘afterellen’.
As we keep fighting for more, I take comfort in the little things that they try so hard to keep from us [and it makes me a little happier that there are others w/o access to online sites to watch uncensored versions of glee who can see these small gems, and hopefully to them, it’s enough light that they don’t feel so alone in the dark tunnel we’re stumbling along in].
“And when we look at our own lives in the context of the stories we’ve been told, we’re not lost and alone and abandoned in a turbulent world without hope”. Indeed.
“A few well-placed rifle rounds, and the rioting would end in an instant. A more sustained attack on the rampaging mob might save England from itself, finally removing shaved-head, drunken parasites from the benefits rolls that Britain can't find the will to abolish on moral or utilitarian grounds. We can be sure there's no danger of killing off the next Winston Churchill or Edmund Burke in these crowds.”—
(via Media Matters)
The amount of people who seem to genuinely believe that I LIKE being angry about things boggles my mind.
I am of what one might call a PASSIONATE DISPOSITION. I feel very intensely about things! I have very strongly held beliefs and ideals! I care about stuff a lot! I am particularly invested in fiction as art, as a reflection of culture, and as a vehicle for social change. It matters to me, deeply. That’s why I consume tons of fictional media. That’s why I write fiction. That’s why I have a Tumblr where I spend lots of time talking about it, in general.
This all does mean that, yes, I spend time being critical or negative or angry. Not because I just love it so much but because the things that I am being critical of or negative about or angry about MATTER to me and even despite often tempering that anger with humor as a self-preservation mechanism, I would almost always rather be spinning off into squee-induced fancies about people kissing or shopping for home decor or cooking disastrous breakfasts than being angry about yet another narrative betrayal.
Believe it or not, I am a cheerful person! I dancewalk and sing to myself and laugh a LOT and blow raspberries on my cat’s belly and speak to people I love in silly voices. I’m not some kind of ogre hunched over my keyboard foaming at the mouth waiting for something to misstep so I can jump all over it. I would love it if everything were awesome all the time!! But everything is not awesome all the time and often it’s not awesome in ways that are harmful, and I think it’s important to engage with that. So I do.
And I’m not going to stop just because it’s one of your favorite things. Chances are it was one of my favorite things too before it a) collapsed as a narrative to the point that I could not longer be legitimately emotionally engaged and/or b) persisted in reminding me that I live in a culture that ceaselessly asserts that I’m not a full, complete human being who is worthy of respect and capable of autonomy.
there’s been a lot of fantastic racebent fanart crossing my dash lately, and you know I love that shit, but goddamn if it feels this amazing just to imagine for a moment that the heroes in our stories look like us…
what would it be like to actually see that?
what would it be like to see yourself reflected in your media, to have these enormous projects, these blockbusters, these gigantic studios thinking that it’s worthwhile to tell stories which include your people, your countries, your lives? what would it be like for people to think you’re important enough, relatable enough?
seriously, I’m genuinely curious and not being sarcastic at all: what does it feel like being a white dude? especially a straight white dude? I mean basically everything courts your gaze. You’re the default demographic, the one that matters - if it’s not relatable to you, it’s either fundamentally flawed or it’s just a niche interest. You’re never an afterthought, and you’re never overlooked.
What does that even feel like?