I should probably reblog the bunnies I drew a while ago since it seems relevant for today but its too much work for me so have this post that is relevant in that it acknowledges the existence of said drawings
So this might be a good time to talk about “flip the script” narratives and why they’re harmful.
A “flip the script” plot is something that takes an existing narrative of oppression and reverses the roles. You see it in Save the Pearls with race, or the short film, “All You Need is Love” with homophobia. The problem is that you can’t just take something that loaded and simply excise its real-life implications.
Victoria Foyt’s Save the Pearls series envisions a post-apocalyptic world in which “pearls” are people with white skin are seen as inherently less valuable than the oppressive, dark-skinned “coals” due to the desolate, sun-scorched landscape. White people who do not find a mate by eighteen are executed, because…well, don’t worry too hard about logic in this series. We’re already dealing with an incredible failure at science and worldbuilding. The ad campaign featured a white actress in blackface (another huge no-no) discussing how she has to desperately hope her “Dark Prince” will save her. She spends a lot of time dodging unwanted advances and worrying for her livelihood. Her love interest in the series, a “coal,” also just happens to be a half-human hybrid and is referred to as “an animal” “an insensitive beast” and “a dumb brute.”
So a couple things:
The notion of black people taking over and subjugating white people is the number one tool of rhetoric in the racist’s handbook.
Same goes for the patented white fear of black men posing a sexual threat to white women. The propagandist film TheBirth of a Nation uses the idea to justify the murder of black slaves. Emmett Till was lynched at the age of 14 for merely speaking to a 21-year-old married woman. And there are countless stories like his that didn’t gain national attention.
Characterizing a black person as a hypersexual animal is yet another persistent racist trope. The first step towards oppression is dehumanizing the Other.
So even despite Victoria Foyt’s intention to educate white people about racism, she ends up perpetuating anti-blackness in her story. How does that happen? Well, these tropes are often implicit and show up regardless of explicit intent. However, a flipped script perpetuates the exact sorts of things that bigoted fearmongers use in their propaganda to sensationalize their perceived loss of control. Because in a society where oppression is the norm, the privileged group will see any attempt at leveling the playing field as an aggressive threat to its power. You see this in the coded language of dog-whistle politics, in which conservative politicians characterize strides in civil rights as threats to the status quo and “traditional way of life.”
But Nika, I hear you say, I’ve seen plots that have robots enslave humans in response to stories about humans using robots as slaves. Yes, I say in response. You see that in the Terminator franchise as well as the Harlan Ellison story “I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream” and that’s different BECAUSE it doesn’t have real-life parallels. Humans haven’t enslaved sentient robots (yet) and what’s more, artificial intelligence in those narratives doesn’t tend to be racially charged. These stories still reflect very human anxieties, but they’re more indicative of our fear of playing god and then being outsmarted by our creations. Also recall that a lot of sci-fi narratives that depict the subjugation of the human race by AI (and also aliens) specifically invoke the real-life instances of human oppression without downplaying their horrifying impact.
I could go on but the point is: if you’re thinking of flipping the script on something with real-life parallels, don’t do it. Just don’t do it. Bad idea. You’ll hurt a lot of people, dredge up a lot of implicit prejudice, romanticize the historical pain of other people while dismissing its gravity, produce misery porn…it’s gonna get ugly. In essence it’s drag-and-dropping the decontextualized struggle of a people to generate sympathy for your privileged group of choice.
But the MOST important question you have to ask yourself is: WHY do you need to flip the script on oppression in order to empathize with an oppressed group, especially if members of said oppressed group are telling you to stop appropriating their struggles and actually LISTEN?
I should not tell you of Berenice, the unjust city, which crowns with triglyphs, abaci, metopes the gears of its meat-grinding machines (the men assigned to polishing, when they raise their chins over the balustrades and contemplate the atria, stairways, porticos, feel even more imprisoned and short of stature). Instead, I should tell you of the hidden Berenice, the city of the just, handling makeshift materials in the shadowy rooms behind the shops and beneath the stairs, linking a network of wires and pipes and pulleys and pistons and counterweights that infiltrates like a climbing plant among the great cogged wheels (when they jam, a subdued ticking gives warning that a new precision mechanism is governing the city). Instead of describing to you the perfumed pools of the baths where the unjust of Berenice recline and weave their intrigues with rotund eloquence and observe with a proprietary eye the rotund flesh of the bathing odalisques, I should say to you how the just, always cautious to evade the spying sycophants and the Janizaries’ mass arrests, recognize one another by their way of speaking, especially their pronunciation of commas and parentheses; from their habits which remain austere and innocent, avoiding complicated and nervous moods; from their sober but tasty cuisine, which evokes an ancient golden age: rice and celery soup, boiled beans, fried squash flowers.
From these data it is possible to deduce an image of the future Berenice, which will bring you closer to knowing the truth than any other information about the city as it is seen today. You must nevertheless bear in mind what I am about to say to you: in the seed of the city of the just, a malignant seed is hidden, in its turn: the certainty and pride of being in the right—and of being more just than many others who call themselves more just than the just. This seed ferments in bitterness, rivalry, resentment; and the natural desire of revenge on the unjust is colored by a yearning to be in their place and to act as they do. Another unjust city, though different from the first, is digging out its space within the double sheath of the unjust and just Berenices.
Having said this, I do not wish your eyes to catch a distorted image, so I must draw your attention to an intrinsic quality of this unjust city germinating secretly inside the secret just city: and this is the possible awakening—as if in an excited opening of windows—of a later love for justice, not yet subjected to rules, capable of reassembling a city still more just than it was before it became the vessel of injustice. But if you peer deeper into this new germ of justice you can discern a tiny spot that is spreading like the mounting tendency to impose what is just through what is unjust, and perhaps this is the germ of an immense metropolis…
From my words you will have reached the conclusion that the real Berenice is a temporal succession of different cities, alternately just and unjust. But what I wanted to warn you about is something else: all the future Berenices are already present in this instant, wrapped one within the other, confined, crammed, inextricable.
Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino
Read this on the plane today, and it seemed relevant to the current discussions around Social Justice that have been populating my tumblr feed of the past few days.
I am trying to convince people - not only the public, but lawmakers and people in power - that investing in the frontier of science, however remote it may seem in its relevance to what you’re doing today, is a way of stockpiling the seed corns of future harvests of this nation.
Best songs of the 1980′s - #6 - Keep on Rocking in the Free World - Neil Young
I’ve been listening to Neil Young lately. Because fuck Donald Trump and stupid old motherfuckers who think they own everything.
There’s always a few songs I have to listen to of Neil Young’s. This video of Rocking in the Free World from SNL is one. It’s everything that was great about the late eighties and early nineties. I’m not even sure what that means, but in this video a rock-n-roll wizard is willing us to EVOLVE and LOVE EACH OTHER and he does it all while kicking complete ass. Another song I was listening to this week is already 45 years old. Wait, 45 years old?! WTF? Yep, Southern Man is 45 years old. And sadly it’s still extremely relevant today. Thankfully there seems to be a growing shift by the majority to deal with ignorant racist terrorism in 2015, but huge problems still remain. Fucking Up, is also a great song Neil opens concerts with. And at 13+ minutes live, it’s a kind of a fist fuck of sound delivered with a laugh at our many failures. “Why do I keep fucking up?!” As anyone who’s ever tried to make a little piece of art will tell ya. It’s all about failure and fucking up. My all time favorite Neil Young song is off the Sleeps with Angels record. Mr. Young was in the middle of recording this record when he found himself suddenly in the midst of a strange conversation. Kurt Cobain had quoted one of Neil’s songs in his suicide letter. And Neil did his best to answer Kurt in this record. The conversation continues. My favorite Neil Young song, My Heart is off that record.
And yeah maybe I get a little misty whenever I listen to Neil because they played Heart of Gold at my best friends funeral and he and I loved us some Neil Young. We actually saw the SNL performance of Rocking in the Free World together on live TV. My best friend was a good man and a true artist. I guess these days I’m trying to be an artist too. Not as a profession. I have a regular shitty job like everyone else. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still live and create as an artist, we all can. Because in this world there are basically two kinds of people. There are stupid evil fucks who want to own everyone and control everything because they are afraid. They have a hole in there heart and they try to fill it with things but its never enough. They are failures who misunderstand what life, love and failure is all about. They should listen to the artists. Artists are just people who use the hole in their heart to create and say something to ourselves and to the world about our deepest experience. What we create might not be perfect but, “My heart My heart I gotta keep my heart. It’s not too late its not too late I gotta keep my heart.” Maybe art is just us, making love to the world. Maybe it’s just about us not being afraid to “fuck up” and expose ourselves, no matter how silly or weak our art is. Art isn’t some special thing about being talented. It’s about pouring out the whole of your heart because that’s all you really got in the end. And sure you might wanna become a better mother fucking lover so, lets make bigger and better art, lets make really good art and love and fuck each other properly. Preferably wholly, with every piece of junk we got.
So this has been rattling around in my head for a while now, but push came to shove today, and it seems pretty relevant, so I’m finally posting about it. Some of these comments will be put into a formal WP post later about building communities, and what potential community builders can anticipate and plan for when building communities, but for today I want to restrict my discussion to the members of the Kemetic community.
This is really long, so to save you all from having to scroll through it, Imma put in a cut. For those of you who would like a TL;DR, it’s this:
I don’t control how the community is built, Set does.
People are people and all communities have similar breakdowns and problems because people are inherently predictable. Us, too.
Reasons why the coveted serious recon-based Kemeticism hasn’t really taken off, suggestions on how to fix.
This seems particularly relevant to me today, so I really wanted to share it.
One of the (many, many, many) reasons I love Kurt is that I’ve always felt he did religion “the right way”. He has his faith, he has his convictions and they are strong and at the very core of his personality. *However* he chooses to live this faith, to perform good works and be the best person he can, honoring those convictions in that way. And you know what? It shows. Those around him see that in him, and they grow to respect not just Kurt, but the faith that guides him.
There is nothing but love in this man’s heart and he gives of it freely. He passes no judgement on those around him who do not see eye to eye with his ideals and would never hesitate to help them in any situation. In the end, his own open-mindedness encourages others to take a step back and think, and I think he would consider that an ultimate success.