Category Archives: Uncategorized

Censureship, Myself & Ender’s Game

Pieces of this post have been sitting on my computer since the summer so with the movie coming out I decided to fix it up and post it in the hopes of getting  my blogging back on track

So the film “Ender’s Game” based on the book of the same name by Orson Scott Card is coming out soon. I’m not here to talk about the many issues with Orson Scott Card, his political views are well-known and written by his own hand in most cases.  What I wanted to talk about is my own relationship with Ender’s Game and this new trend I’ve been seeing where people who choose to blacklist a film/show are accused of censorship.

I have a long and complex relationship with “Ender’s Game” both the book and the film, so my feeling on it are more complicated and gray than my feelings for OSC. I read EG at the right age, the perfect age, the age where I felt like no one understood me, adults were ineffectual against my harassers and I had a lot of anger inside that I wanted to get out somehow. I identified with Ender, his struggles and isolation but it was the character of his sister Valentine Wiggins that I left the book loving. The character of Valentine showed me the difference between pacifism and weakness. Ender changes the world through violence and ignorance but Valentine changes it through her words, through arguments meant to sway public opinion. Valentine was the first capitol-A  Academic I read about, the one I’ve probably spent a lot of my life trying to be. When you feel that close to a character you want to see them brought to life, want to see more of them. Also the fact that Valentine is being played by Abigail Breslin, on of my favorite young actresses leaves me hopeful for a great portrayal.

And the casting is another reason I want to see it. Viola Davis is in it. I love Viola Davis and have been truly disappointed in the work she’s been offered post-Help (the less said of her magical negro servant who sacrifices everything for her young white charge in “Beautiful Creatures” the better, looks it’s The Help with magic!). Nowhere has the racism of Hollywood been more blatant lately than the post-Oscars careers of Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis and the roles they’ve been offered.. Generally an Academy Award nomination (let alone a win) results in an avalanche of offers for the actors. Spencer has talked about how this definitely wasn’t the case for her though she’s taken an excellent view of it, acknowledging the disparity of Hollywood while planning ahead:

Well, it must have started ringing at some point, because you have some pretty great projects coming up, like Diablo Cody’s movie and Snow Piercer.
Well, the funny is thing is that I got the Diablo Cody movie and I got Snow Piercer before I got any nominations, so I knew I had both of those projects in November. I don’t want to sound as if [I'm complaining]. The reality is that there are so few roles out there for women and for women of color, and I’m a character actor, this I know. And I’m getting to see more of the roles that are out there, but there aren’t many. And zilch have been studio movies. Zilch. So my challenge and my opportunity now is to take the opportunity to create my own work. I’m fine with that.

In addition to these reasons people will argue that you have to give Science Fiction films your money so that Hollywood knows that SF/F sells and therefore makes more movies. I understand this argument, it was the one I made for the super-insanely disappointing movie “Sucker Punch”. It looked campy and great in the trailer and was the first women-headed film that production company had done in seven years so I wanted it to make money. Despite the ineptness and horrible stereotypes of it’s script I wanted it to succeed just so Hollywood Execs would not be able to say, “See movies with female leads don’t make any money let’s not do it again.”

And I want Hollywood to make more science fiction films. I want them to make more diverse science fiction films (which speaking of Octavia Spencer I am so hyped for her sf/f outing Snowpiercer!). I don’t, however, want them to give OSC my money. I don’t want them to think that OSC films are the way to go. The very last thing we need is a “Prentice Allen” TV series or a “Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus” movie or his homophobic masterpiece “The Songmaster” – the miniseries.

Ultimately the fact is that no one can predict how Hollywood will view the success or failure of something. Executives are not a conglomerate, they are individual people with their own minds, they have their own prejudices and assumptions and that effects how they perceive something. If they took every success as proof of the American public’s wants/needs ‘Alien’ would have been followed by a slew of tough, amazing protagonists in SF/F films who just happen to be women (we got a few, I’m looking at you Linda Hamilton but far from a slew). The success of Grey’s Anatomy would have lead to a slew of TV shows that had a diverse cast and a writing room that was mostly women. How many shows last 10 years?

The fact is that Hollywood takes the success of things that they champion as proof that the people want it, while things they are unsure of/don’t want to think about/deal with/make more of are called flukes whenever they succeed.

So what really cemented my decision not to pay to see this film?

The response  coming from OSC and his rabid supporters. First there’s his horribly demeaning and condescending letter:

“Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state. Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.” — Orson Scott Card.

Ok let’s break the outrage down to it’s component parts, shall we?

Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.

First of all, to act like there weren’t already LGBT folks advocating for rights back then is disingenuous at best, ignorant at worse. His homophobic masterpiece “The Songmaster” was written in 1980 so his views were already well established then and he was authoring his homophobic columns by 1990. So at least personally he was fully aware such issues exists during the length of the 80s. But the most horrible thing about this line to me, is that it shows OSC lack of imagination. Yes, it was written in 1984 and as a sf/f author you should be able to imagine the future of our world that reacts to real life issues. The fact that your future includes no GLBT folks says a lot about you and nothing about the time it was written. Especially since you have authors at the same damn time coming out with groundbreaking pieces that explored gender, race, class, sexuality, ability and a whole slew of other identities in wholly new ways.

With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.

Again I call bullshit. Legal protections have never ended a debate or discrimination in this country, yes they allow for more rights under the law but marginalized people have always known that the laws are applied unevenly. We know that just because a law says were equal doesn’t mean we won’t be hurt/killed/denied our rights. Also we know for a fact that just because something is law doesn’t mean people will follow or acknowledge it. For a recent example look at the ACA and the recent gov’t shutdown.

And the last bit of ridiculousness:

Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

This is the most offensive bit of the whole thing. First of all it recast GLBT folks as intolerant of those with different opinions. Leaving aside the straw man argument that OSC sets up here, explain to me why I have to show tolerance towards someone who never showed it to folks like me? See I’m not intolerant of your opinion in general but when your opinions are on MY RIGHTS which have shit all to do with your life then you’re damn right I’m gonna hold it against you. So basically you spent all this money to deny me rights, wrote columns on how I and people like me are the downfall of society and used to sit on the board of an organization explicitly set up to deny me rights (National Organization for Marriage, he resigned in mid-2013 right when controversy for his film and opinions were heating up, fancy that) and keep me a second class citizen but I’m the one who needs to show tolerance for you OSC? By giving you my hard earned money?

Which leads us to the fans who somehow champion the idea that by not going to see his movie and encouraging others to do the same I am somehow silencing him and his voice. I’ve seen this entitlement in fans a lot, for some reason they will argue that choosing how you want to spend your money and sharing that with others is censorship.

Let me be clear I have NO power in Hollywood. I cannot stop a film from being made. I cannot change the story to suit my ideals. I can’t whiten a character or change their gender. I have no power over the media, what I do have power over is what I choose to give money to. Choosing not to give OSC my money is not silencing him in any way, I am not telling him that he cannot hold his opinions, write his book, write his homophobic columns; what I am saying is that I refuse to give him any more money or social cache by contributing to your movie being a success. That is the only power I have in light of the Hollywood machine.

That is not silencing people, silencing people with money and power is what NOM  did with the money and cache OSC  provided for them. Also even if he’s no longer on the board I don’t trust he still won’t give them his time, money and attention. Am I punishing him for his opinion? No. I’m choosing not to participate in a system that would end up with putting money in his pocket.

I still want to see Abigail Breslin & Viola Davis though. Maybe I’ll stick with my initial plan of paying for a film, something featuring GLBT folks and women of color, something I think should get more money/press/billing and then sneak into “Ender’s Game”.

It’s still voting with your wallet but in a cheating, sneaky way – it’s like rigging the election with your wallet. It’s the capitalist American way.

Inspiration Rediscovered

It’s been a month since my last post and I thought I’d explain my absence. It’s a confluence of a couple of factors, planning the immediate future has taken a lot of my time and energy, RaceFail ’09 has made me bitter, angry and apathetic and finally my second semester of Grad School is kicking my ass so hard I had to drop a class. I tried to write a post over the last month but I couldn’t think of anything to write: 

Writing? Before last week I hadn’t written any new fiction since the end of January

Oppression? RaceFail ’09 made me so angry I could not write about privilege and power dynamics without literally feeling sick to my stomach

SF/F? See my answer to Oppression and there hasn’t been a SF/F show that’s pulled me in in ages and until the beginning of March I hadn’t red for the pure pleasure of reading for a long time.

Music? School? Work? Miscellania? Apathy x 10

But this is not a whiny I’m leaving the internetz post. This is saying that thanks to my spring break  (which I’m still currently on) and my vow to step away from all but the most dire of my resposibilities during the week; getting to see/talk to a bunch of great folks like my HLB Allison, Tempest, Nora, etc.; immersing myself in some writing (mine and other peoples) and trips to a few museums I am actually feeling inspired and excited more so than I have in a long time. It may not last but I’m gonna try and hold onto the feeling so forecast for more frequent posts looks good…once I’m back from spring break of course.

Late 90′s/Early 00′s Music Vid Post

So my iPod is currently being fixed so I’ve had to fall back onto a cd player and my 500 strong CD collection. So the snag if I haven’t actually bought a physical CD in about three or four years so I’m listening to stuff that are flashbacks to younger days and my musical tastes of way back when. So I wanted to put a few of the songs out there in remembrance for a time when I loved them and felt so connected to these songs. But as a sidenote? Being without an iPod sucks! Not only do I not have a lot of the more recent music I’ve been listening to but I also have a smaller pool of songs to choose from (although come to think of it this would be a good time to weed out some music from my iPod that I never listen to) its a little scary how addicted we become to things that add convenience to our lives, I mean can you remember life without a cell phone?
*shiver of fear*
On that chilling note, here are some of the songs I’ve rediscovered over the last three days without my Ipod.

Regine Velasquez – You’ve Made Me Stronger

Mya – Case of the Ex
 

Joydrop – Sometimes Wanna Die

Keith Sweat – Twisted

Beth Hart – LA Song

Bright Eyes – A Perfect Sonnet

Fiona Apple – The First Taste

Heather Nova – London Rain

3 Links for Tuesday

Some things of interest on this Tuesday afternoon:

1. My latest Stargate Atlantis column is up at Fantasy Magazine – Crossing Lines: Stargate Atlantis — There’s No “I” In Team. Check it out, it’s full of snark and bitterness. If this weren’t the last season of the show I’d be breaking up with it. Now another thing you might notice over there is that I’m now listed as staff. I am officially the Co-Reviews Manager, this is one of the reasons I’ve been busy lately but I didn’t want to say anything until I’d been doing it for a while, y’know that whole not jinxing it thing.

2. K. Tempest Bradford’s awesome story Until Forgiveness Comes is up at Strange Horizons. The narrative is written in the form of a newspaper article on the anniversary of an immense tragedy. I don’t want to spoil any of it so I’ll keep mum about the other aspects but the world she creates is so intriguing I can’t help but wish for more stories in the universe. Definitely head over and read it.

3. Finally the Phillipine Speculative Fiction Sampler, this was just pointed out to me today so I haven’t had time to check it out yet but I’m excited to see speculative fiction coming out of other countries. The speculative fiction community is so focused on the U.S. and England (and to a lesser degree Canada) and ignores the fact that there are people writing this genre all over the world. As it says in the introduction:

However, as prolific or talented Filipino writers might be, one of my concerns is that their work doesn’t get read outside of the Philippines, or even Metro Manila for that matter. And in this day and age of the Internet, it’s not an impossible hurdle to overcome. That’s not to say Filipino writers aren’t being published abroad or online. They’re even being acknowledged in anthologies like The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. In case of the former though, that only accounts for a small percentage of our output and in the case of the latter, prospective readers don’t really have convenient methods of reading the said work.

This is what we won’t forget.

When you look at old school movements and social organization when a particular proposition or push failed within a community the reaction was to go into the community and forge alliances and find out exactly why these groups voted this way.

The mainstream LGBT community has gone straight to hate. Pam’s House Blend, Rod 2.0 and Jasmyne Cannick all have  testimonials of African-Americans who went to the big No on 8 rally in L.A. with signs and to support the movement or were just in West Hollywood and were showered with egregious racist abuse.

Just one example:

Geoffrey, a student at UCLA and regular Rod 2.0 reader, joined the massive protest outside the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Westwood. Geoffrey was called the n-word at least twice.

It was like being at a klan rally except the klansmen were wearing Abercrombie polos and Birkenstocks. YOU NIGGER, one man shouted at men. If your people want to call me a FAGGOT, I will call you a nigger. Someone else said same thing to me on the next block near the temple…me and my friend were walking, he is also gay but Korean, and a young WeHo clone said after last night the niggers better not come to West Hollywood if they knew what was BEST for them.

oh and another:

To date, I have received several phone calls from Blacks, both gay and straight, who were caught up in Westwood around the time of that march. From being called “niggers” to being accosted in their cars and told that it was because of “you people gays don’t have equal rights and you better watch your back,” these gays have lost their damn minds.

The mainstream LGBT community has always acted as if there are no People of Color who are LGBT or tried to have us pick one identity over the other. It’s time that we face facts – the mainstream LGBT movement has always been a supremely white movement, not because there aren’t POC who are out, like they try to claim but because we have NEVER been a priority for them. Many would argue that this is only the actions of a few individuals but you know what? The fact that none of the big organizations to my knowledge – HRC, GLAAD, Equality California, etc. – have said nothing about this racist speech. That says a hell of a lot about them. And don’t tell me they’re not aware of it because at least one group, Truth Wins Out, has spoken out.

So here’s the thing the mainstream LGBT movement needs too know : When your racism once again sinks back under too hide under that facade of liberalism it will be way too late because we’ve seen your true colors know and beyond anything else this is what we’ll remember. That your reaction was to scapecoat black people with no reliable basis for such and then you went straight to racist abuse. And when you finally settle down and realize that you ran a crappy campaign with slim to no outreach while the Religious Right got in bed with people they never ever would have spoken with otherwise, the evangelicals made ties with the Catholics and the Mormons – do you know how big a deal that is? But you just expected to win. So when you realize that you need coalition and you need outreach and you need to actually go in and talk to and campaign in Communities of Color?

We will always remember that you called us niggers.

Extra Link: Bilerco Project – check out all the other groups that voted overwhelmingly in favor of Prop. 8 and again I ask, why are you blaming the black people?

“Prop. 8 It Passed ‘Cause of Black People!” …. Yeeeeeeah, no.

So the new screed for the No on Prop. 8 people is that it’s the fault of black people that the proposition passed. So let’s break the numbers down, black people make up 6.7% of California and 52% of people voted yes on Prop. 8! Even if every black person in CA voted Yes on Prop. 8 it does not equal even remotely the number of white people who voted for it, so how is it our fault again? Why is the focus all on us?

Is there queerism within communities of color? Yes abso-fucking-lutely, but that’s present within all communities and we all need to do that work. I don’t mean to diminish that queerism at all but I also do not want it elevated because it’s occurring within a community of color which is the M.O. of a lot of the focus around the intersections of POC communities and queerism. Rarely if ever when queerism within POC communities is discussed do queer POC get a chance to speak on their experiences at the intersection of those two or more identities.

The whole campaign for ‘No on 8′ was fucked from the jump.

As my friend Jackie said – “The Yes on 8 people were smart, they campaigned heavily in People of Color communities from the beginning and their commercials included People of Color (POC)”.

The No on 8 people came into communities of color late and they came soft, the whole push for No. on 8 was soft. In so many ways the current push for gay rights is predicated on assimilating into the mainstream and yet somehow trying to keep enough status to call on People of Color communities and say, “We’re just like you! We’re allies!” But here’s the thing we’re only allies when you need something. When initiatives for/about POC have come up the gay community has mostly been completely silent. For more on this read LadyJax’s post Something told me this was going to happen. Where she talks about gentrification, coalition building and reciprocity. Like she says the No on 8 folks needed to come hard and say ‘Bottom line our rights are being taken away. We are a minority who is having our rights stripped and if it happens to us it can happen to you.’

Do two wrongs make a right? No absolutely not (and that’s not what LadyJax is saying either).

What is being said is that you can’t act just like any other cog in the oppressive system one second and then try to play on some invisible connection to POC the next when you’ve done nothing to nurture any kind of bond or relationship there. In so many ways the big GLBT organizations – HRC, GLAAD seem to ignore POC as much as possible you just have to look at the amount of praise that shows like The L Word & Queer As Folk receive as opposed the silence that shows that feature queer POC like Noah’s Arc are greeted with. They would like to ignore the fact that there are in fact queer POC. Communities of Color, our issues and problems are completely ignored and a lot of that has to do with the fact that rich gay white men, the focus and funding of GLAAD and HRC profit off of not remembering that – especially in regards to gentrification and the way that POC get treated in our own neighborhoods when gentrification begins. Because they would prefer to ignore us the outreach that happens is minimal if there at all. Is it any wonder that when we’re approached a couple of weeks before the election with comparisons to segregation and civil rights that we’re more likely to scoff than join hands and sing a round of kumbaya?

In so many ways liberals just expect the support of minorities just for being liberal but guess what it doesn’t work that way. We’re just like every other group of people, there are going to be some who are queer, some who aren’t, some who support Prop. 8 and some who don’t and you need to do the work, to do the outreach and to build communities not just come to us when you need something.

The bottom line is if the support of communities of color is sought then coalitions need to be built, we need to be acknowledged as a constituency that have power and pull and treated like any other. I mean the NAACP of California came out against Prop. 8 but was that mentioned anywhere that you saw? I only learned it this morning and that’s something that should have been explicitly brought up in their ads and literature.

I went a bit off point there but the fact is that not only is the assertion that it’s black people’s fault that Prop. 8 passed racist as all get out for spotlighting the their support for Prop. 8 as the deciding factor as opposed to the majority of white people that voted for it but it’s also exactly the kind of attitude that DOES NOT lead to coalition and relationship building. You want to win next time, you want POC support next time? Then you go into the community, you speak to people, you communicate, you build relationships. You don’t wag a blaming finger in the face of black folks and say “Oh it’s all your fault how could you?!” because that? Won’t get you any kind of positive reaction next time around.

For more posts from POC check out rydra_wong’s awesome linkspam.

Newest Crossing Lines

My latest column is up over at Fantasy Magazine as of today – Crossing Lines: Deconstructing Black Superheroes. Check it out and elt me know what you think.

Terminology – Metrosexual

I heard someone called a metrosexual on the street yesterday, in a joking laughing matter and remembered why I hate the term so much. Metrosexual is a supremely gendered term that just goes to reinforce gender roles.

A “metrosexual” is what exactly?

You might be “metrosexual” if:
1. You just can’t walk past a Banana Republic store without making a purchase.
2. You own 20 pairs of shoes, half a dozen pairs of sunglasses, just as many watches and you carry a man-purse.
3. You see a stylist instead of a barber, because barbers don’t do highlights.
4. You can make her lamb shanks and risotto for dinner and Eggs Benedict for breakfast… all from scratch.
5. You only wear Calvin Klein boxer-briefs.
6. You shave more than just your face. You also exfoliate and moisturize.
7. You would never, ever own a pickup truck.
8. You can’t imagine a day without hair styling products.
9. You’d rather drink wine than beer… but you’ll find out what estate and vintage first.
10. Despite being flattered (even proud) that gay guys hit on you, you still find the thought of actually getting intimate with another man truly repulsive.
“Some people think he’s gay, but he’s actually metrosexual.”
-via Urban Dictionary.com

Okay let’s unpack this a little bit. It’s a vile mix of enforcing gender roles, sexism and queerism. And a lot of this ties into the fact that for a lot of men the term metrosexual has taken the form of an attack on their masculinity.

Metrosexuals care about their looks, care about style, have taste and are refined in a general sense. These are trait societally expectedof women. I have many a female friend who can tell you of the horrible interactions they’ve had because they don’t practice hair removal or prefer Pabst to white wine or dress in a casual style all the time. The contempt for men who do these things not only reveals the contempt for these practices in general, practices more associated with women but also attempts to reinforce gender roles by strictly defining certain acts as “womanly” and “manly”. So there’s that. 

The contempt for metrosexuals and use of the term as an insult is a large scale version of schoolyard bullying. “These are things that men don’t do! If you do them you’re weird, not normal.”  The term itself is problematic because it exists at all, it’s main purpose seems to be to create a division between metrosexuals and “real men” who would never think of doing any of that “girly shit”. In addition to this it also acts as a form of protection for metrosexuals. It’s a defense mechanism that can be called in when they are accused of homosexuality, because any deviation from the strict male gender roles obviously must be a symptom of homosexuality but metrosexuality is still better than homosexuality. You can see this clearly in the definition above (#10). In fact almost all the definitions of Metrosexuality at Urban Dictionary contain a reference to homosexuality, usually an insult.

The discussion becomes even more complex when you bring race into it and point out that I’ve never seen anyone not white termed metrosexual, no matter how dressed up, refined or dapper they were. Because on the rare occasions we do get to see a Man of Color dressed up in any way 99.99% of times what is his role? He’s a mobster/gangster/defendant/crooked businessman/yakuza/drug dealer/pimp…you get the point.

So… in one term we have a confusing and intersecting web of misogyny, strict gender roles, queerism and racism. Is it any wonder I hate the term?

Int’l Blog Against Racism Week 3 is This Week!

By way of [info]oyceter:

For 2008, IBARW will take place between August 4 through August 10.

If you would like to participate, here’s what to do:

1. Announce the week in your blog.

2. If you use a blogging system that allows post icons/pictures, switch your default icon to either an official IBARW icon, or one which you feel is appropriate. To get an official IBARW icon, you may modify one of yours yourself or ask someone to do so. Here’s a round up of IBARW icons.

3. Post about race and/or racism: in media, in life, in the news, personal experiences, writing characters of color, portrayals of race in fiction, review a book on the subject, etc. (Linking back here is highly appreciated!) The optional theme this year is intersectionality.

more at IBARW3 livejournal post here 

I don’t know what I’m writing yet but there will be something for IBARW3 going up this week.

Media Friday! 7-18-2008

Thank Jebus it’s Friday y’all, ’cause this week has been the longest ever. It felt like a month. I suspect some sort of warp in the fabric of space-time. So I’m thinking of making my Friday posts all about the media where I post videos or pictures or whatever.

Now many here may not now it but there are certain reality shows that I love (only a few! I can’t help it). At the top of my list is So You Think You Can Dance. My two favorite dances from this week:

Twitch & Comfort – HipHop

Will & Katee – Pas de Deux

And for all you genre fans out there, here’s the trailer for the upcoming adaptation of the graphic novel Watchmen. For those who don’t know Watchman is a 12 issue mini-series comic, released in the U.K. in 1986/1987 largely thought to be one of the best graphic novels ever. I have major issues with the comic to the point that I have never re-read the story after that first time. These issues have to do with blatant sexism, queerism and racism that thread through the work. I don’t want to spoil anyone but it’s a seriously problematic book. The thing that saves it is the crazy ass political leanings of the characters and the way everything plays out. Moore does fuckedupedness well I just wish the comics weren’t so damn problematic and traumitizing!  

That being said many American comic writers/artists decided to break with the comics code and do their own think after seeing the dark, gritty, real world of Watchmen. It truly made a lot of the “adult” comics I love today possible.

It’ll be interesting to see if the adaptation gets as dark as the comic, which is pretty damn dark. The movie’s not out until March 2009.