“I think the average guy thinks they’re pro-woman, just because they think they’re a nice guy and someone has told them that they’re awesome. But the truth is far from it. Unless you are actively, consciously working against the gravitational pull of the culture, you will predictably, thematically, create these sort of fucked-up representations.”—Junot Diaz (via luciaferr)
The genre has no problem imagining a future full of spaceships and aliens. A racially integrated society, though?
I thought this was a really interesting article, outlining what the author, Noah Berlatsky, sees as four main ways Hollywood sci-fi handles race. They are:
Metaphor (as in The X-Men or TOS’ “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”
Tokenism (again, something you can see on Star Trek and Berlatsky argues also applies to Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian)
Diversity - imagining a world where whiteness is not the default. Berlatsky points out this almost never happens in Hollywood but some SF writers like Ursula K. Le Guin do this frequently
Direct approach where racial issues in Sci Fi are dealt with “as if they are affected by or continuous with racial struggles in the present”. He cites Hunger Games as an example, where District 11 is presented as a segregated, impoverished black district, implying racial discrimination.
I think it’s a very fair case to make that creators - especially white people working on Hollywood movies and mainstream TV - should consider why it feels more comfortable to avoid addressing racial issues directly and take action to improve representations of people of colour in terms of quantity and quality.
I do take a bit of issue with Berlatsky saying Uhura “backfired” in TOS because she was too tokenized. Certainly the TOS creators could’ve done more with Uhura, but she was still a hugely important character.
Berlatsky points out the techniques above can each be used well or poorly (For example, I would argue “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” would be metaphor being used well). Can you think of other ways we see these methods used in Star Trek, for good or bad?
what if “lucy” was about lucy liu casually beating up pervy white dudes instead
and the story was about an asian woman who gets justice from the white men who used and abducted her
and it was an effective commentary on white imperialism, the violent commodification of asian people and asian culture by western society, the demonization of asian people, and the continuing history of violence on unwilling asian bodies especially those of asian women by white people
and what if when a pervy white dude asks the asian woman “do you speak english” while he’s in fucking taiwan, she shoots him in the head instead
what if this movie wasn’t going to be a bunch of white imperialist nonsense masquerading as something “progressive” at the expense of faceless nameless asian bodies
Have you noticed the many near rape experiences casually portrayed in anime? I remember watching an anime and this guy was about to force himself on this girl but his brother burst in and distracted him so the girl got away. It wasn't even like he tried to actively stop him. He just opened the door, stood there and said something and then the girl took the chance to get away. Then she ran to the guy by the door and turned to the other guy spouting some cliche "I won't lose to you!" speech.
(cont.) It was like she or the brother who interrupted them were even phased by it. This is rather upsetting because these kinds of scenarios are done so often and it’s like no one thinks twice that these male characters are forcing themselves on these girls.
Yeah, I’ve noticed. I don’t think it’s my place to critique anime as a whole though, just note and warn people when specific instances come up because I need to discuss stuff that triggers or bothers me and note it so others wont be triggered.
It’s not like near-rape experiences don’t tend to get casually or otherwise problematically portrayed in Western media too.There’s a zillion examples. I certainly don’t think we have any superiority regarding the issue, it just expresses itself in different ways.
If anyone critiques a trend like this in anime as a medium, it should be a Japanese person, not a white girl. I’ll stick to noting trends in Western media.
For instance, DC Comics doesn’t seem to believe men can get raped. Also “rape-as-origin” is still very heavy. I can talk about that stuff all day.
tv show. white man. hes sad. he has to do important thing but its hard. his girlfriend died probably. TWIST!! theres another white man. maybe MORE. hes sad too but for different reason. its very deep probably. theyre best friends but not gay but maybe they are haha fandom!!! every girl dies or goes away. just not gay white man friend. 10 seasons 100 million viewers. what will moody white men do this week.
“This kind of reaction is not uncommon, for Skyler in particular and for women – often wives – on top-drawer TV dramas in general. Characters like Skyler become targets of vituperation unimaginable to their male counterparts, most of whom engage in vastly more destructive and immoral behavior every episode. By failing to indulge every whim of the the male antiheroes around whom their shows are built, the women become obstacles to those men getting exactly what they want when they want it at all times, which is the core fantasy of antihero fiction. Cold cunning, ruthlessness, rage, self-interest, a propensity for physical violence – we gender these unheroic characteristics as male, and celebrate them; passivity, bitterness, grief, emotional enmeshment, a knack for attacking and deflating egos – we gender these unheroic characteristics as female, and loathe them. Skyler White, Betty Francis, Megan Draper, Catelyn Stark, Sansa Stark, Cersei Lannister, Carmela Soprano: On the sole count of “being women,” Fan Court finds you guilty as charged.”—
Sean T. Collins, totally nailing it. I can’t speak to Game of Thrones, but I maintain that the characters he mentioned from Mad Men and Sopranos are really great, well-written characters and the audience’s issues get in the way of many people fully appreciating them.
[Sean here—I wrote this for Rolling Stone regarding Breaking Bad, so there are spoilers if you click through the link, but this passage references Game of Thrones, with what I think is good reason.]
In other words: a character that is praised for their…oh, who am I kidding, his callousness and cruelty will be especially callous and cruel towards marginalized people because that is what our society allows. Encourages. It´s easier to act that way towards Them. There is no equal playing field. If the character were crueler towards the privileged (if he kissed down and kicked up), it´d have to be conscious, but then he wouldn´t be a courageous anti-PC outlaw, would he? He´d have to be sensitive, somehow, or even, heaven forbid, socially conscious, which is anathema for a Gritty Hero for Today. (read: Today´s Threatened White Masculinity)
Related: there´s nothing more infuriating than going through the Hermione Granger tag on A03. It goes like this: Harry/Draco, Lucius Malfoy/Severus Snape, Theodore Nott/Charlie Weasley, blah blah, and 3 lines later, oh, there´s Hermione. When it´s not about Marriage Laws and how Hermione brings sunshine into the lives of Malfoy Son/Tom Riddle/Rodolphus Lestrange, of course.
That´s what you get for looking for stories centered around one of the most memorable girls to emerge in popular culture the last 15 years. Harry gets the powerful-Harry!, dark-Harry!, fem-Harry! (irony of ironies) tags, but if you want a story where Hermione´s the protagonist, good luck with that! (unless you´re satisfied with some predictable tripe about her Sookie-like Powers of Magical Vagina. In that case there´s no shortage for the next wizard lifespan)
And if such an iconic figure can´t get her spate of Bildungsroman narratives and Save the World epics, there aren´t many girls and women who can, fictional or not.
Morale of the story: Hermione should call Black Widow and Regina Mills to found the Club for Overlooked Geniuses Who Are Tired of Saving the Ostentatiously Heroic Peabrained (Male) Public Figures ´Bacon (And All I Got In Exchange Was the Dismissal of My Emotions!)
Related: I´m fucking sick and tired of going to A03 to search the F/F tag and have 75% of the stories (it does vary according to the day) be about an M/M couple with the F/F pairing in 4th or 5th position in the ensemble cast.
Even when explicitely trying to exclude stories about cis men, there´s no surefire way to get female-dominated storylines. Fuck the patriarchy (it´s not A03´s fault, to be clear, since ff.net´s search engine is much worse. It´s fandom. It´s society. It´s us)
“Conceptually, female bonding is a precondition for lesbianism. If women are situated only in relationship to men or in antagonistic relationship to each other, the very idea of lesbianism is precluded. This partially explains the appreciation lesbian audiences have for films with female bonding. So often has female bonding stood in for lesbian content, that lesbian audiences seem to find it an acceptable displacement at the conclusions of… “lesbian romances.””
— - “The Hypothetical Lesbian Heroine,” Chris Straayer, mentioned in this article “Lesbians in Media and Culture: Failure to Communicate.”
There’s so much to say about this one quote. Like how it’s the reason why femslash is often way less of a thing than m/m slash — mainstream media, unless it’s marketed specifically to women, is skewed heavily against any kind of interaction between two women unless it involves a man. So in order to femslash, you wind up having to invent
camaraderie that isn’t even there, let alone romantic chemistry.
(See: every TV show or spec fic franchise that has a “the girl” fighting or crimesolving alongside a cast of diversely personalities male characters.)
Brilliant observation. Truly, it breaks my heart to notice that a huge section of fandom, where straight girls and women might even make up the majority, is clearly more comfortable and invested in writing stories centered around male characters (the disproportionate amount of M/M fanworks bears witness to this, as has been pointed out).
I used to be so desperate for interesting girls and women in my stories that I would consume any kind of work that had one, even if the fact that the Smurfette principle and the Exceptional Woman trope conspicuously reared their head always hurt. Nowadays, not only will I stay far away from dudeliocentric worlds, I also instantly flee from stories that don´t heavily feature relationships between women, whether cis or trans*, and/or non-binary identified characters.
If we´re supposed to reflexively root for the underdog, I want it to be a true underdog, someone who is forcefully being shoved down the social ladder, not a projection of a fantasy pity-party from a privileged creator.