man white gun

Tbh the father-daughter dynamic between D.Va and her actual father, the only person IN THE WORLD she can’t beat at Starcraft (presumably he’s the one who taught her to play in the first place) is a much more interesting dynamic to explore than “D.Va views a middle-aged stranger, a grumpy white man with a gun, as a father figure”

4

Every Tuesday my parents go to Austin’s Bar & Grill with 25 or more other old people. My parents start talking about what they’re going to order on the Wednesday after they were there on Tuesday. Sometimes it’s going to be salad and onion rings. Other times it’s hamburgers and, perhaps, green beans. They tip bigger than they would because others in their group tip smaller than they should. It’s something to do when you don’t have all that much left to do.

On their way to Austin’s, they will pass Garmin, a complex that started out small and just keeps getting wider and taller. My dad worked at King Radio for most of his adult life. It was founded by Ed King, a K-State graduate who built a company that became the gold standard for small aircraft navigational equipment. I worked there during the summers when I was in college where I shipped more 170B transponders than you could imagine. (Coincidentally, Mr. King paid for the International Student Center on the KSU campus and this is where Pete took me on our first “date” where he ate the food in the refrigerator that was not his.) 

Anyway, when he was at King Radio, Dad had a casual friend named Gary. They played softball together, talked about their young kids, got their hair cut by the same downtown barber. Gary and an Asian engineer at King went on to combine their names, Gar and Min, and formed the company Garmin. If my dad had been younger and less close to retirement, he would have gone to Garmin in those days when it was neither wide nor tall. Sometimes, as they drive to Austin’s for tacos and french fries, Mom and Dad mention Gary and wonder how things might have been had Dad been in on the ground floor.

Anyway, Austin’s and Garmin collided two days ago in my hometown. As you might have heard, two Indian engineers headed across the street from Garmin to Austin’s to watch what every sports bar in Kansas would be watching—the KU Jayhawks go for their 13th straight Big 12 conference title. A drunk, known to the Austin’s people, kept hassling the two men and was kicked out of the bar. He later returned, shouted something like “Get out of my country” and shot them. Another young man, who would have had no idea that he was going to become a hero that day, stepped in to help. One Indian was left dead, the other was injured along with the hero. Another day. Another angry white man with a gun. Another dead young man. Another time of us all saying we never thought it would happen in our town. Until it did.

And we’ll all begin the rituals that we’ve become so good at. A few days ago, I looked for a GoFundMe page so that I could donate to the desecrated Jewish cemetery in Missouri. Today I will donate to the GoFundMe for the Austin’s bar victims. Young kids and moms and teen girls will bring flowers to put outside the bar. Neighbors of the shooter will say that they knew their neighbor was a bit off but they never expected this. We will mourn the loss of a fellow human who was trying to make his way on this big earth. His body, paid for with GoFundMe money, will make its way home to his family. We are just really really good at this in America. Practice makes perfect.

Anyway, last night, with those words “get out of my country” that have been given more acceptance by Trump bouncing around in my head, I went to the town hall meeting at the church at the end of my street. Senator Jerry Moran was not there. To be completely fair, and I’m trying to be in these trying times, this was not an organized meeting. Moran had not set up this town hall meeting. He had not said he would attend the meeting. Rather, organizers set it up and invited him. Even on the website, it said that no one knew if Senator Moran had seen the invitation and no one knew if he would attend. So I can’t fairly say that he ducked out of meeting that he had never set up.

But his presence or absence isn’t really the story here. I live in Johnson County, Kansas. It’s not totally red like most of Kansas. It’s definitely not blue. But, still, parts of it voted for Hillary. Others voted for the candidates who could not win. If you add those together, more in Johnson County voted for someone not named Trump than voted for Trump. It’s not a purple area yet, but it’s definitely lavender. Olathe, though, is a red dot in that purple. It’s really red. Like maybe scarlet. And, still, the parking lot was packed. Perhaps with as many cars as would be there on a Sunday. It was dark and you could see the headlights of cars driving up and down aisles trying to find a place to park. 

My high school friend Verneda was there. We talked about the meanness that we hadn’t known existed in America. We talked about the night Hillary lost. We talked about how all this political activism was something new. We agreed that we needed to keep it up even when it was hard.

The meeting room was full. The overflow crowd had spilled into the lobby. No one in the lobby could hear the speakers inside. What most surprised me was the demographic of those there. I had expected young people in jeans and sweatshirts on this unseasonably warm evening. I’d thought there might be some moms there. They were there. But also there were so many old people. Like really old people. And they, the old people, were the ones in charge. One bent-backed lady with silver hair kept shushing those of us in the overflow area because she wanted to hear the speakers. She looked like those women who always run the polling stations. Those women who show up, do their job, get it done, and go home with no thanks. I repeat. The majority of the people there were old. I was—-surprised.

These old people had us fill out 3x5 cards with messages to be hand delivered to Moran’s office. They had a whiteboard where you could write a message to Moran, take a picture of yourself standing next to it, and as the old women told us, post it to social media. Social Media? These suddenly tech savvy ladies and gentlemen were telling these teens how to use social media to ferment discord.

When I was a teen, there was a song by Buffalo Springfield that I loved and, when I hear it, I remember Vietnam and halter tops and Jesus freaks. The song said:

“There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.”

That’s how it felt last night in this church lobby in scarlet red Olathe where I mingled with angry riled up Kansans. There’s something happening here. And Senator Moran and others would do well to pay attention.

I wish people would understand that for black wolf 359 fans, it was never a matter of “lovelace is never allowed to suffer or be harmed and anything bad that happens to her is racism.” I fell in love with lovelace because from the moment her character was introduced we already knew she’d been through hell and was still going through hell. and because she was funny and clever and determined and loyal and brave and vindictive and simultaneously dangerously self-sacrificing and determined to live no matter the cost. her survival through ongoing horror is one of the most miraculous aspects of her character.

the most recent arc was not inherently bad. her being killed mercilessly, dehumanized, and then returning and being herself in spite of not even being human…….that isn’t automatically misogynoir. it isn’t irredeemable. I would even say that it’s a really compelling story and fits well into her trajectory so far. you don’t know how many times I cheered for her during episode 47. my heart was too large to contain. I was so proud listening to her beat up kepler. listening to her take on a command role again. listening to her saying that she wasn’t going to continue on her quest for revenge anymore (even though she has EVERY DAMN RIGHT TO DESTROY EVERY PERSON WHO HURT HER THIS WAY) because it isn’t who she is; because it was who they tried to make her. this episode where she takes her autonomy, identity, personhood back from goddard, back from the body bag, back from the depths…….that was powerful.

it isn’t that this arc is inherently wrong. it’s how it was handled. thinking about her “death” and how traumatizing it was to hear the only character voiced by a black woman die in that manner…….I always find myself comparing it to an episode of ars paradoxica where a brown man is killed with a gun. in that episode, they provided a warning about gun violence, an assurance that they had a reason for what happened, a commitment to thinking much more carefully about the role of guns in the future of the show, and a request that listeners stick around for a panel at the end of the episode. despite the warnings I was still very disturbed by the way the character died. then I listened to the panel and found that my concerns were addressed in a thoughtful and compassionate way. the writer of the episode, himself a brown man, talked about how he was aware of the context in which the episode existed, and had a good reason for it. the whole panel gave showed so much thought and made it evident that the creators all understood the cultural climate in which black and brown people are killed every day by white men with guns and authority. that they hadn’t killed the character by default, as is so often done with black and brown characters. that they understood the potential for harm to marginalized listeners. the other thing is that ars paradoxica has been increasingly diverse in terms of racial and lgbtq+ representation. they’ve actively committed to a narrative world in which all of us exist. so killing a brown man in that context didn’t mean killing the only person of colour and leaving us with an entirely white, entirely straight cast.

with wolf 359, there was no trigger warning until several days later when our outrage and hurt finally prompted them to add it to the text of the episode description. they did a live vlog about it a few weeks later. while those were good first steps, they emphasized to me how little consideration had initially gone into the social context in which the podcast is being produced. it made me feel that I couldn’t trust the writers to think through the violence directed at black women every day. like they hadn’t given any consideration to why their cast was all white except cecilia lynn-jacobs, and at that time, lacked any lgbtq+ representation whatsoever. it was the lack of forethought in creating and releasing the episode that really hurt. it wasn’t contextualized, it wasn’t given adequate consideration. so for black women listening to the show (and for people of colour in general) hearing lovelace “die” that way, in the middle of the episode, at the hands of a white man with a gun, was a form of retraumatization and dehumanization. so was hearing kepler call her “it” as her recently dead body struggled for breath in a body bag. so was having white fans (and some fans of colour too) tell us to stop being so emotional and shut up and enjoy the story, as if our trauma was too inconvenient to listen to. so was waiting for over six months to see what would happen to lovelace, not knowing if she would be herself, if she would be accepted, if her humanity would be permitted.

I love wolf 359. I love isabel lovelace. I even love her story arc. I don’t think it was inherently harmful. I think the way it was presented, the timing of the episode releases, the lack of forethought and awareness from the creators is what made it so harmful. it was irresponsibly handled. and I guess that can’t be changed. we can’t go back in time and fix that. but I wish that fans and creators alike would make a bit more room for our pain, our fear, our demands to be treated better. I loved the most recent episode and I intend to keep listening, but in many ways my trust has still been broken and I’m not at a point of healing yet. and I really want to get there.

  • Marcus: /has multiple near death experiences, berated so much by his friends and family for a crime he didn't do so he moved away, constantly racially profiled, fights for marginalized groups, attained a gun license and parkour skills for self defense, watches his best friend bleed out on the floor, would die for everybody, grieves and cries alone, only just turned 24, wants to be happy.
  • Wrench: /30 year old white man who loves guns and explosions, yells at Marcus, queerbaits him, would kick a puppy.
  • y'all: poor wrench my baby :(
  • y'all: *makes fics and art on how bad Wrench's life is*

the cishet white man fires the gun, intending to kill the female protagonist. his aim sucks, just like everything else about him. the stray bullet hits an innocent lesbian standing nearby. everything stops. there’s an expression of utter shock oh her face. and then…

“WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!” she screams as she reveals a bulletproof vest under her jacket. “I COULD HAVE DIED!”

she quickly disarms and pacifies the man.

“why are you wearing a bulletproof vest?” the protagonist asks, stunned.

“well, duh. i am a lesbian who just had a sex scene with the woman i love like 10 seconds ago. it seemed like a logical thing to do.”

“lmao tru,” the protagonist laughs as the end credits start to roll.

showrunners all over the world are enraged. what a plot twist.

“we didn’t see THAT coming!” they cry.