Our always-eloquent reviewer Amal El-Mohtar has some serious issues with Jess Row’s provocative new Your Face in Mine.
Trans men and women face many problems — not least among them is the small but pernicious group of people,usually found on Tumblr, who use the rhetoric of trans experience to claim that they too are trapped in the wrong body: an able body (I have the soul of a person in a wheelchair!) or a white body (I’m black inside!). Treating gender, race, and ability as identical and equivalent categories, they blithely declare that they are “trans-abled” or “trans-ethnic,” so they too understand oppression. The appropriate response is usually an eye-roll.
To see Jess Row raise the subject of “Race Reassignment Surgery” with seriousness, and to see him use it as a fulcrum from which to examine, at exhaustive length, white liberal guilt, demands rather a different response. Never before have I read a book that marshalled such a wealth of research and intellectual inquiry to so grating a purpose: portraying the white need to appropriate black culture as an equivalent to the danger and difficulty of living with gender dysphoria.
I AM SO FUCKING SICK OF THE NOTION THAT ONLY THOSE WHO DON’T WANT POWER ARE DESERVING OF IT.
Occasionally it works out, fine, but someone who doesn’t have a passion for leadership is going to do very poorly at the top. Because that shit’s hard, it is ungodly hard, and only if you’re truly committed to it are you going to be any good at it. Someone who just accidents their way into it is going to drop the ball, not to mention the fact that they haven’t prepared themselves for the task, so they’re untrained and untried.
Ambition is not a bad thing. Ambition for power is not a bad thing. Being ruthless and cutthroat and amoral, sure, but not ambitious.
And yet again and again and again and again and again I see books where only the person who doesn’t want the job is considered good enough to have it. And I think it’s born out of this idea that ambition is evil, but at the same time they need to be in charge for the story to work, so we end up with this fucking trope that is literally the opposite of sense-making." - Reading With a Vengeance (via the-right-writing)
Are there things you see in characters that you just say, “Uh, not for me.” ?
Emma Thompson is my queen.
If you get this gifset you will get why I utterly fucking hated that David Benioff and Dan Weiss made Catelyn Stark beg big brave hero man Ned to stay home in Winterfell with the kids rather than go Do The Brave Thing.
Because it is just her being a classic been-there-done-that hurdle for said big brave hero man, and don’t be fooled otherwise.
i want more stories of boys growing up idolizing women
calling women their heroes, telling women they want to be just like them when they’re grown up
men being fondly told anecdotes of how they’re acting just like their lady mentors at that age
how everyone can see so much of those women in them
how they should be proud to carry that influence with them
Disney vs. 7 early fairytales
The 1812 version of Snow White is even worse when you consider that the girl was only seven years old in the tale (plus her unconscious body ended up being carted around by the prince until one of his servants accidentally woke her up). Also, in The Little Mermaid, the mermaid’s unable to speak because she had her tongue cut out >__<
But I’d love to see faithful adaptations of the original tales. Especially Bluebeard. We need a Bluebeard adaptation.
Actually, the original-original pre-Grimm Brothers’ stories that were passed around Europe via oral tradition are nowhere near as violent as the Grimm’s made them. Cinderella’s stepsisters were never ugly and kept their eyes, Snow White’s mother was not even a villain (instead a group of bandits were), and instead of spending the whole story napping Sleeping Beauty outwitted a dangerous bandit leader, wouldn’t let him sleep with her, and saved herself.
The original oral stories were radically changed by the Brothers Grimm to fit their personal and political beliefs. Most notably, they often added in female characters solely for the purpose of making them evil villains and took away most of the heroines’ agency and intelligence. Both brothers belonged to a small fanatical sect of Catholicism that vilified women because of the idea of Original Sin and Wilhelm in particular had a particularly deep hatred of women. The Grimms were actually pretty horrible people. Those cannibalistic queens and ugly stepsisters and the mass amount of violence against women didn’t exist until the Grimms wanted them to. Their ideas stuck so soundly though that we now assume they were in the original tales and that these terrible characters and ideas come out of some perceived barbaric Old World culture. But in truth they’re really the Grimms’ weird obsession with hating women showing through. The original oral folklore focused on the heroes’ and heroines’ good deeds and used them as ways to teach cultural norms and a society’s rules and encouraged girls to be quick-witted and street-savvy instead of passive princesses, and the Grimms promptly stripped that all away.
"Grimms Bad Girls and Bold Boys" by Ruth Bottingheimer is an excellent book on this
Now things are starting to make sense.
In an analysis of more than 1,000 television shows that aired on 67 cable and broadcast networks during the 2011–12 season, UCLA researchers studying racial diversity in the entertainment industry found that more viewers were drawn to shows with ethnically diverse lead cast members and writers, while shows reflecting less diversity in their credits attracted smaller audiences.…Yet, according to the study, released on Oct. 8 at the 27th annual National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications conference in New York, ethnic minorities and women remain woefully underrepresented on both cable and broadcast programs as lead actors, writers and show creators.
Here are the results for the fantasy section of the survey.
reminder to myself to look into writing gay ebooks
When Young Black Girls Actually Had
Something to Look At…
And every show gave a positive outlook for black girls.
And they weren’t just blankly “positive” in that they were one-dimensional and just “reactive” to stereotypes. These shows included nuanced stories where there were repercussions for mistakes, lessons learned, identities formed. They were…human. And all of these were amazing. <3
A female character is designed to be Really CoolTM. Is she
… Are male characters too Really CoolTM?
Yeah I definitely think people’s favorite fictional characters serve an aspirational quality. I have so many favorite characters who fall into the “Ugh can I be you can I kiss your feet” category. Of course it’s also possible to like a character who mirrors the absolute worst you feel you have inside you, it’s almost like, “Yes you’re not the only one who is this awful”, and if it ends on a hopeful not for them you can feel there’s hope for you too. If it ends on a less hopeful note, well at least you still feel something, like, sometimes you just feel something useful because something in the world has shown you yourself in lucid words.
I must say though I don’t at all mind sword wiedling badasses, even if they’re not an automatic “LOVE” for me. But I don’t like hypersexualized warrior queens or whatever and … generally I don’t like violence all that much so if it’s self defense or if I can take it less than seriously, okay, but if it’s OTT then it’s too hard to ignore.
Hahah this is probably all true. Anyone with a bit of a bratty side will remind me of me, so.
People whose insides don’t always match their outsides — I just see it all the time, you know, people describe themselves one way but that’s more about who they want to be or want to convince themselves they are, but that’s not always the whole story. But also part of me can relate to the whole intentional mask thing as I’m sure many can.
The emotion/logic binary just feels oppressive to me, it’s really a visceral knee-jerk rejection. I think it can be interesting if you have a character who’s supposed to be struggling with it, but sometimes I just want a character who maybe wouldn’tve even “heard” of it because yeah can we just pretend it doesn’t exist thanks.
Characters suffering the logical consequences - JUST GOOD FICTION, MAN. But when it’s specifically of their own actions, I mean that’s something one must (should? could? does even when lying to one’s self about it?) relate to every day of their lives. I FIND IT COMPELLING YES.
Chuck Klosterman has a new nonfiction work, I Wear The Black Hat. In it, Klosterman grapples with villains – and more specifically, why society has come to embrace some while holding others up as the torchbearer of evil. We recently spoke with the author and discussed James Gandolfini’s role in reshaping television, why Klosterman is no longer capable of hating bands and how to him Fred Durst remains as intriguing a subject as ever.
I think it’s funny he even had to say some of this, but interesting anyway:
Particularly dealing with musical acts or any bands or my relationship to rock music or whatever, it’s one thing to dislike an artist. And to dislike an artist means you don’t enjoy the experience of listening to them. And of course I still have that experience. But the idea of hating an artist is different. “Hate” and “Love” aren’t opposites. The opposite of “Love” is “Indifferent.” So if you actually hate something, it actually means you have a pretty deep emotional investment with what that expression means. Like if you hate the Red Hot Chili Peppers or you really hate The Doors or whatever, you’re really doing this for other people. And that’s the part that I don’t have the relationship with anymore. Like the idea that I need to hate the band in order to somehow suggest my worldview to someone else. My relationship to the world is somehow more reasonable.
Would that more people had this epiphany, even at Klosterman’s age.
I probably think that period [of being a music critic] is over for me. I mean, I certainly know how to do it. I know how to sort of perform that act. Part of being a good critic means that you will let something affect you in a way that is more profound than the average listener. And that’s what makes you a different person. But somehow it doesn’t feel right to me. Because I know that so many feelings in my mind are beyond my control. It would be one thing if when I listened to say, the new Drive-By Truckers record, if I was actually having a relationship with the music. But part of me knows that also having a relationship to all these other bands I’ve listened to, all these things that have happened in my life, what I think it means to like Drive-By Truckers – all these things that are really outside of the music, and I can’t get away from that anymore. Once you make that jump, you can’t go back.
Well I think you can go back, but prevention is the best remedy regardless.
It was the same way that both Creed and Nickelback had this experience. Hootie and the Blowfish went through this in the Nineties. I feel like Bush had this experience; Stone Temple Pilots, too: Bands or artists where it becomes absolutely acceptable to hate them arbitrarily. You can make an argument for what’s wrong with them musically or culturally. But that’s not even required. The kid who came up to me and asked me about Fred Durst, I just thought it was really fascinating that he was asking me why he hated Fred Durst. I found it a strange question. I thought that was something I should be asking him. It’s almost that he had started from the premise that he hated this guy and he just wanted someone to give him the words to explain why. I find that a very compelling idea. I’m just one of those people that sort of imagines most of what we believe socially is made up; it’s absolutely not real. It’s almost as though there’s certain feelings people want to have and they’re just gonna happen about something and if we can just collectively agree on what those things are we’ll all feel more comfortable.
Bolding mine, for emphasis.
The Gandolfini thing is interesting because that is true in terms of the medium of television. I think that the adoption of the antihero is kind of the only hero America still creates. It started with books and moved into film and rock music really. And then eventually got to television. Television is sometimes the last to adopt culturally adversarial ideas because it’s such a populist medium. The Sopranos probably was the first show doing this; it was kind on an island on HBO where they were saying: “We’re going to make this character who, he’s a murderer and a criminal” – that’s the first thing we know about him – “and we’re going to work the story sort of through his eye.” And I think that [Sopranos creator] David Chase initially was probably very worried about the fact that he had this main character who was classically a villain type of personality. But it worked so effortlessly and so brilliantly that now it’s almost the central way to make a high-end television show. All of the really good television shows – Breaking Bad, Mad Men,The Wire, all of these good show, even Game of Thrones – in every case the villain is not only the most interesting person but also oddly relatable. I don’t think that would have been the case 15 years ago.
And notice how all those antiheroes are MEN. Always.
The interesting part about it, especially in television, is that people are trained to understand the program or the narrative through whomever is the first character they’re introduced to. So when we’re introduced to Walter White, he’s immediately a sympathetic person and it almost doesn’t matter what he’s going to do over time to most people. They’ll have a really hard time breaking away from the fact that that is the character they understand the show through.
It’s almost like how writers frame their fiction affects how readily the audience wants to empathize with certain characters over others!!