WisCon 31 Recalled 3/4: Is This Level Of Exhaustion Normal?

Again, If I get any names or facts wrong, feel free to let me know. I’ve only got my own faulty memory to rely on here.

The day started not with a bang but with a whimper as I climbed out of bed slowly and prepared myself for my second panel of the weekend. I wandered down to the Green Room for some tea and then headed over to the meeting room. On the way I ran into a bunch of the FeministSF Blog bloggers and talked with them for a bit.

There were a few people in the room and one of my fellow panelists, K. Joyce Tsai. I knew Joyce from online but had never really met her in person before this Con (we had talked the previous night outside the parties & at the Whither Hero(in)es panel on Friday night.) so we talked a little in our bleary, sleepy states. In came Doselle Young, in his atheist t-shirt and furry slippers and the first words out of his mouth: “I’m not the moderator, am I?”
Joyce & I: un-huh
Doselle: Damn, I don’t want to be a moderator, let’s just run this anarchy style.
Me: Fine by me
Unfortunately for my inner anarchist, but luckily for the audience, Janice Ellen Young was also on the panel and took on the role of moderator.

What These People Need Is A Honky!
– Joyce had a list of films that meet this trope (I will find the list and post it in the WisCon Addendum post on Tues. or Weds.)
– Leah (in the audience) brought up the white female teacher savior trope and I told them about the skit “Nice White Lady” from MadTV.
– I brought up Tamora Pierce’s Trickster duology, which I do love but has way too much: “Oh we couldn’t have done this without you, young white spy!”
– Doselle brought up the movie Mimic(?) and the fact that not only does the black man sacrifice himself for the white main character (a staple in these types of films) but he goes to his death SINGING! Doselle said he was afraid to look down and see that his popcorn had been changed to watermelon.
– Of course we brought up “Dancing with The Last Samurai of Heaven.”
– Joyce brought up the film Cry Freedom and the lack of black characters (speaking ones in particular) in the second half.
– Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and Jar-Jar, the evil traders with Asian accents & the evil merchant/slave-owner with a Jewish accent. (It should be noted that when I say accents I mean stereotypical racist portrayals of accents)
– Johanna (from the audience) told us the Ewoks actually speak Tagalog a lot. “Yes, the little brown bears speak the language of the ‘little brown people’!”
That hurt me…a lot.
I brought up the Wounded Knee adaptation and the bullshit of the added part-white character. Doselle had to take a moment.
– Someone brought up the little coda always at the end of the film, “This is still a problem in…”. Which I brought up is mostly for a white audience. It’s like ‘Oh there’s still racism in America? Yeah I’m black I already knew that shit.’ This makes it very obvious who the films are made for and it ain’t PoC.
– Joyce brought up Shogun & the Empire book series by Feist & Wurts.
– The fact that a large majority of interracial relationships are white man/woman of color. That interracial is hardly ever interpreted as PoC/PoC.
– I said I have no respect for those (like Mariah Carey) who actively hide their heritage only to admit to it later to cash in on the trend.
– The fact that many white people view Denzel as “the Good Negro” in that he is safe and they can identify with him as opposed to say Djimon Hounsou. (Note: I don’t view Denzel this way but it is why for a long time he dominated any roles that needed a black man; we’re just starting to see the end of this)
– Also that Denzel, Avery Brooks, Eric LaSalle all had/have enough power to alter their character, whereas most PoC in Hollywood do not. That this is why their characters often turn out more realized than other PoC characters.
The Pam Noles blog post about white men dominating hollywood, I compared it to the coda at the end of the films. Is there any PoC who did not know this was still the case?

After the panel it was discovered that all the panelists were from California. Just an oddity no real point to the fact.

We all talked for a while then Jackie & I headed out for lunch. I think we went to the Noodle place again (we went there about 3 times and I always ordered the Mac & Cheese. We were in Wisconsin it would have felt like a betrayal not to sample their delicious cheeses!) I can’t recall if this should have gone in Sat.’s report but I’m putting it here. Jackie and I entered our room to find a plate of freshly made chocolate-covered strawberries & 2 glasses of Sangria. Our friend Kit from back home had heard about the bad thing that had happened to us that first day. She called the hotel and had them send up the treats with a nice little card. It was a wonderful surprise. I have great friends.

Then over to my next panel:
Colonialism…In…Space! (which I told everyone had to be read the way it was written.)
Panelists were: Me!, Victoria McManus, Jane Acheson (who has a great post here), Sara Brodzinsky & James A. Trimarco.
So I am gonna say that this was the panel I was most worried about because I felt I was going to be the only (or only visible) PoC on the panel and I was right. I wouldn’t have even been on the panel had Liz Henry not dropped out. I took Liz’s spot which I think is a very good thing. A panel on Colonialism with no PoC there would have felt weird, not because white people can’t talk about colonialism but they’re drawing parallels to the (mostly) white colonization of brown folks. If we’re going to discuss that I felt the panel should have been a little more mixed. When we are discussing Colonialism…In…Space! in comparison with first contact scenarios…it was just felt odd not have more PoC on the panel. Especially since colonialism in America is not over, it happens everyday.

I digress, the bottom line being it was uncomfortable being the only PoC there, though I rather be uncomfortable than there be a panel on colonialism with no PoC. When we were introducing ourselves I struggled with if I should bring it up. Y’know point out the elephant in the room. Instead I just brought up the fact that I identify as a colonized person in America, which I do. Allison, who was in the audience, later told me that I should have brought it up, that she expected the moderator to and truthfully so did I.

The panel did go well, though I think my uncomfortableness with the situation made me dominate the conversation more than I usually would.
– I brought up BSG and them being the colonized people at which point Jane said one of my favoritest quotes from the Con “It’s still pretty white people oppressing pretty white people.” Which is very true. I mentioned that I thought it was revolutionary in the way that it forced most of the audience to code with an oppressed and colonized people. A rarity to be sure.
– There were some great books and movies brought up but I never take notes so they are lost to the winds of time.
– I brought up Nalo’s Brown Girl In The Ring as a very visceral moment of colonialism. The Minister needs a new heart and it is ripped from the body of the oppressed. This was in a response to a question about books and colonialism that I can’t quite recall.
– Jane brought up the Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirstein and spoiled it a bit but I still want to read the series. I vaguely recall reading the first book years ago. Anyway she had some great examples on why the land itself is a colonizer along with the people.
– Victoria mostly took the silent moderator approach, just there to keep things on track.
– James had some great books he listed but as I said no notes.
– We also brought up the fact that the story most used in books is the big bad colonizer comes in to destroy someone. Then one of the colonizers lives among “the people” and learns they’re fabulous. Then he attempts to save them from the colonizer. This also ties in to the “What These People Need Is A Honky.” panel
– One book suggested that I do remember and could not find during the Con was So Long Been Dreaming a collection of sci-fi stories focusing on post-colonialism. I need to pick that up.
(There will probably be a post later about how my identification as a colonized person affects my writing because after Jane wrote about it I started to think about it a lot.)

Then I was off to: The Author’s Blog: Does It Help? Does It Hurt?
Panel: Lori Devoti, K. Tempest Bradford & Michael Mornard
This was a good panel with a whole lot of audience interaction. I asked questions about reviewing books on your blog and things of that nature. The advice given which I’m going to stick to is when critiquing work you have to have a reasonable critique. You can’t say “This book is stupid and so is the author!” but instead have things about the book that you disliked and point them out and your reason for disliking them which I think I’ve mostly stuck to. In other words don’t get personal, although that’s inevitable to a point, try and stay distanced.
Lively panel and lot of laughter. Points I remember:
– Once you put something online, it’s there forever in some form. Think before you post.
– People are reading your blog, even if their are no comments. Think before you snark, under your real name about people you need to interact with (I had to add the qualifier because I love snark and don’t want it to go away).
– Some authors use the blog to stay connected with fans and make them feel involved in the process.

I stayed in the same room because Candra & Allison were giving their paper presentation: Inherited Traits – Race, Gender, and Intertextuality in Heroes.
Unfortunately due to technical difficulties they started late so we didn’t get the whole paper but the 75% of it we got was great. They had clips to illustrate their points and brought up a lot of things I hadn’t seen because I stopped watching. I only had to leave the room once, when they showed the attempted rape of Claire, because that’s way too much for me to deal with. (In case I haven’t mentioned this elsewhere in the blog I cannot deal with sexualized violence, it makes my stomach turn. It’s something I don’t like to read or watch. In fiction rape is often played as titillating or motivating and to see this horrible base act made into something sexual for the audience’s male gaze is just disgusting. There’s a whole post here for later so I’ll stop now.)
Despite several attempted derailments by random men in the audience I do think thiswent very well. Although it did take me a little bit to realize exactly what intertextuality is because in my film class we always called it extra-diagetic information. Luckily I cottoned on but even before I did I enjoyed the things brought up. I especially enjoyed their discussion of the death of Simone and how the blame is placed only on Isaac (even though he was right!). Yeah, I could go on about this for a while but let’s move on…

We (Jackie, Candra, Allison, a bunch of people whose names I don’t remember or never knew & I) went to dinner at this burger place. The conversation turned to films that involve diversity of all types.

Then it was back to the hotel for a nap and then the GoH (Guest of Honor) speeches. Unfortunately while the spirit was willing the flesh was exhausted. Jackie attempted to wake me from my nap. I mumbled something about leaving me behind and went back to sleep. I woke up in time to start ironing my shirt for the fancy dress party. Jackie walked in to find me ironing while watching Flavor of Love: Charm School (or whatever it’s called). Give me a break, the hotel had limited cable! It was a good episode too, the one where Hottie hides two of the girls dresses to fluster them before a competition, where Andrew Firestone from The Bachelor interviewed them (no, I couldn’t make this shit up!).

Anyway we headed upstairs to one of the parties but it was crowded, stuffy and hot. Also we’d worked the parties the last two nights in a row. So we headed downstairs to the bar and drank until last call (which is really early in the hotel, 10:30p.m.) then up to Candra & Allison’s room. We just hung out chatting for a couple of hours. Then Jackie & I headed down to our own room and passed out.

Next: WisCon 31 Recalled 4/4: What do you mean it’s over?!? No, I won’t return to the real world! Nooooooooooo!


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