- That tiny little thing where her entire damn TV show has no POC in it
- POC cast in Girls play only “the help”, random people:
- Sidné Anderson as “Jamaican Nanny”
- Jermel Howard as “Young Black Guy”
- Moe Hindi as “Roosevelt Hotel Bellhop”
- Jo Yang as “Tibetan Nanny”
- The time she added a black actor (Donald Glover, who is very problematic in his own right and will be getting a post soon) for a couple episodes, during which she accused his character of fetishizing her as a white woman, and declaring that she “doesn’t see race” and “doesn’t see him as black”. Pro tip: erasing people’s identities and experiences is still racist.
- About the lack of POC on Girls: “We really tried to be aware and bring in characters whose job it was to go “Hashtag white people problems, guys.” You know, because it’s the job of POC to go “hashtag white people problems” all the damn time.
- This Islamophobic tweet
- The super Orientalist essay she wrote about a visit to Japan. Choice quotes include:
- “She weighs about seventy-three pounds and has hands like paper cranes”
- “I can’t imagine a passionate affair with a native man”
“Yellowish Fever: I know I said I could never imagine a Japanese affair, but I’ve changed my mind. Kazu, the art handler hanging my mom’s show, is gorgeous like the strong, sexy, dreadlocked Mongol in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (causing my sister to email the instruction: “Yeah, girl. crouch that tiger, hide that dragon. P.S. That’s a Chinese movie”)”
- “Japanese people look so young — fourteen year olds in ill-fitting suits. What kind of business could they all be doing? When they cross the street it looks like a music video, or the cover of Abbey Road. They are so orderly and leave a foot of space between themselves and the next office escapee.”
- “The White Man Cometh: Being the only Caucasian in a room, you almost feel invisible because you are so visible. When you’re in Mexico or someplace, at least they want your paper dollars. But here, we are uncouth, smelly, hairy. We have swine-flu. Our currency is inferior and our history is short. Yet the Japanese also love Sid Vicious, cowboys, birthday cakes, bagels.”
- “Her former colleague (a word she pronounces cawl-eee-gew) had an affair with Kazu, art handler crush, and it was a great dishonor, not only for that woman’s husband but for everyone who knew either cheater”
- “Sometimes, when you’ve been in Japan for ten days, you start to get a little funny… You will start bowing to people who hold open a door or sell you a honeydew yogurt or inform you that there are fish flakes on some crackers you’re not sure you want. You will flash a peace sign and assume a pigeon toed stance whenever someone aims a camera at you.”
- “Remember that L’s sound like R’s and vice versa”
- “Tada asks my age. I say “23, last week.” He’s excited. “HOPPY BIRSDAY!””
- “A random guy in a French maid’s apron says, “You so sexy, RENA.””
- “I had this dumb, Western idea. Like, I’m going to go to India and it’s gonna be so transcendent that I’m not gonna be afraid of death anymore, and I’m going to lay down so many of my Western anxieties and embrace a new kind of knowingness and bring it back to the U.S.”
- “We do a really good job in this country of basically sealing off sick people and sealing off toilets and sealing off everything that lets us know we’re animals. And in India not only do they not do that, there’s no interest in doing that.”
- During her trip to India, she said she sympathized more with “the stray dogs she saw than the poverty-stricken people.”
- “I hated India. I know you are not allowed to hate India. But I did. I wasn’t happy. And I felt crazy. I am a hypochondriac. I saw too many puppies that I thought needed me. So many moms and I got in a big fight and I left India. Early.”
- On the cost of her apartment: “It was this cheesy thing where they listed the prices people bought homes for. And its said something like Nicole Richie, 5.3 million dollars, Lena Dunham 430,000 dollars. It was my proudest New York Real Estate moment.” Are we supposed to be impressed that she spent ~only~ half a million dollars?
- How Girls constantly includes scenes of rape or sexual assault, and then depicts them as totally fine and no big deal
- “The world’s getting more and more full. Our generation is not just white girls. It’s guys. Women of color. Gay people.” Well that about sums it up. Those are all the existing types of people. There are NO others. And none of those categories overlap, either.
- The huge amount of nepotism on that show, which makes her assertion that the all-white casting was “a complete accident” seem very unlikely
- “I’m not super thin, but I’m thin, for like, Detroit” which is almost definitely racist, and classist as a bare minimum.
- “The vet was a young, sweet man. Definitely Jewish, which is something I care about only in times of crisis”
- “I want to date a male flight attendant. Everyone I’ve slept with is gay anyway”
- “She was always doing cleanses, yet she still had an inner tube of flesh around her middle—something that I wouldn’t begrudge if her son hadn’t once told me that he thought Nancy and I had ‘the same genre of body’.”
- “Jonah didn’t have a very specific style beyond dressing vaguely like a middle-aged lesbian”
- About a girl she knew and bullied as a child: “Cassie was a very fat girl we knew who we had nicknamed fat Cassie because she also wasn’t that nice.”
- This fuckin tweet
"Nagini", Voldermort and representation: things that disappointed me in HP
ETA: please give proper credit if you cite this or any of meta, cos this stuff takes time and effort y’all.
So yesterday when I made this post, many people wanted to know why Voldermort’a pet snake being named ‘Nagini’ was racially problematic. I was surprised that people hadn’t considered this, but then again desi issues/culture are hardly visible in mainstream media. But today I kept getting anons either professing complete shock about Naagini’s* significance, OR telling me that my interpretations were wrong. So I decided to write this meta on Naagini, the HP verse and mythological snake symbols. But first I’m gonna give some you some backstory about why Naagini bothers me so much and how Rowling seems to have missed out on some cultural context.
One of my favourite stories as a child was the one about Buddha and Mucalinda, the Snake King. Shortly after attaining enlightenment, the Buddha is travelling through a forest when he gets caught in a terrible storm. The great serpent, Mucalinda, shelters the Buddha by spreading it’s vast seven-headed hood over him, and permitting the Buddha to sit on his coils. Many statues depicting this scene are found throughout Sri Lanka. There was one at the junction close to my school that I would always stare at. The sight of the Buddha serenely meditating under the protection of a huge and powerful cobra is a striking one that captured my imagination as a child. Years later, I’m still moved on a deep, wordless level by this image.
“[Some Indian and “Western” commentators] have reduced India's rape crisis to a cultural problem. Men, we are told – specifically, Indian men – are culturally lacking and barbaric. They have no concept of women's rights or equality. They are born and bred to sexually assault and degrade women. This is a familiar phenomenon, and an outgrowth of colonialism. When horrible crimes happen, specifically to women, we reduce the culture, in this case, of about 1 billion people, to a gang-bang-enabling society of rapists. And of course, by blaming Indian culture specifically, Western sexism is brushed under the table. We arrive at Gayatri Spivak's formula explaining the colonial exploitation of anti-woman violence in colonized societies: “white men saving brown women from brown men”. The process of reducing brown men to savages has been all too familiar in recent years. We have seen Egyptian men reduced to “animals” and “beasts” by the New York Post because a mob high on a combination of stupidity and jubilation about Mubarak's downfall brutally assaulted white reporter Lara Logan. We have seen a number of “native informants,” from Mona Eltahawaly to Hirsi Ali, tell us that Arab and Muslim men “hate” women. In typical colonial fashion, gender dynamics, including real crimes and acts of brutality, are reduced to “cultural” problems in which we can reduce entire societies to large gang-bang parties predicated on savage men who simply prey on women. ”—Amith Gupta - Orientalist Feminism Rears its Head in India via Jadaliyya
“Every single empire in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it uses force only as a last resort. And, sadder still, there always is a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming words about benign or altruistic empires, as if one shouldn't trust the evidence of one's eyes watching the destruction and the misery and death brought by the latest mission civilizatrice. ”—Edward W. Said, Orientalism
Jumbled Ruminations on "Argo"
One of the most infuriating things in the world is when people expect you to “catch them up” on extremely complex histories and cultures and ethnicities and peoples and geopolitical struggles which they could very easily research on their own. What’s even more infuriating? Argo. I have had far too many folks ask me to “explain” why they shouldn’t see Argo, and almost every single time I get upset because it’s so fucking obvious — you’re watching Hollywood once again attempt to narrativize the Middle East through its Western filter. But it’s difficult to even try to explain the many layers of jingoism and self-aggrandizing propaganda in this film and its contemporaries to those who are incessantly trained to prioritize the lives of a handful of wealthy white people who are, thanks to Affleck, valorized as the “civilized,” “educated,” “elitist” Anglos vying for “safety” and “freedom” when confronted with the Angry, Bearded, Brown Revolutionaries™ — and their Supportive, Shrouded Sisters and Spouses® — who “reign over” an “exotic” and “evil” land. Someone who graced me with their presence just this past week said something to the effect of, “Well, where are all the Iranian American filmmakers? I’m sure Affleck would’ve let them take over the film production, but they apparently don’t exist.” What exactly is going through the mind of someone who thinks this way — someone who assumes that Hollywood’s power players would readily afford anyone outside of their entity of privileged, white, Euro-American, Judeo-Christian men the opportunity to make their version of this particular film at this moment in modern history? And, moreover, what exactly is going through the mind of someone who thinks that one Iranian American filmmaker is going to speak for us all? My friends and I have had far too many unnecessary run-ins with a lot of thoughtless, condescending, xenophobic, and bigoted white folks — white-passing privilege makes these experiences all the more interesting because people assume you’re “one of them” and say literally anything they want in front of you — and many of these people have fostered such a cripplingly myopic conceptualization of “terrorism” that they actually talk about “terrorism” as if it’s the polar opposite of anything that Europe and its great North American allies have ever engaged in. No one seems to think about resistance vis-à-vis “terrorism.” No one seems to think about our collective engagement in the Orientalist gaze — how we at once fetishize and denounce the victims of our leaders’ myriad neoimperialist projects. No one seems to think about the acute stigmatization and racialization of Islam. No one seems to think about just how fucking heartbreaking and rage-inducing and gut-wrenching and soul-crushing it is to see peoples and places and religions you are connected to further demonized and othered to no avail by dangerous and irresponsible profiteers — by people like Affleck and Clooney and their cohorts who masquerade as “politically-conscious artists” yet who, in all actuality, poison the masses with fuel for fire, with more reasons to hate “those savages over there.” Argo is the beating of a war drum whose reverberations are unceasing. If you’re going to spend only the first minute or so of the entire film giving audiences an historical foundation that reads like a subpar Wikipedia session, you shouldn’t be producing a mainstream blockbuster movie about Iran. If you’re going to compare CIA operations to abortions, you shouldn’t be producing a mainstream blockbuster movie about Iran. If you’re going to close your sefid circle jerk of a narrative with a soundbite from a former U.S. president instead of a cautionary message about sanctions/drone strikes/apartheid/Islamophobia/warmongering, you shouldn’t be producing a mainstream blockbuster movie about Iran.
What I do argue also is that there is a difference between knowledge of other peoples and other times that is the result of understanding, compassion, careful study and analysis for their own sakes, and on the other hand knowledge—if that is what it is—that is part of an overall campaign of self-affirmation, belligerency, and outright war. There is, after all, a profound difference between the will to understand for purposes of coexistence and humanistic enlargement of horizons, and the will to dominate for purposes of control and external enlargement of horizons, and the will to dominate for the purposes of control and external domination. […] Today, bookstores in the United States are filled with shabby screeds bearing screaming headlines about Islam and terror, Islam exposed, the Arab threat, and the Muslim menace, all of them written by political polemicists pretending to knowledge imparted to them and others by experts who have supposedly penetrated to the heart of these strange Oriental peoples over there who have been such a terrible thorn in “our” flesh. Accompanying such warmongering expertise have been the omnipresent CNNs and Fox News Channels of this world, plus myriad numbers of evangelical and right-wing radio hosts, plus innumerable tabloids and even middlebrow journals, all of them recycling the same unverifiable fictions and vast generalizations so as to stir up “America” against the foreign devil.
—Edward Said, May 2003