surprisingly rage-free thoughts on whitewashing

The internet right now is fair teeming with rage on both sides of the upcoming ScarJo cover of legendary anime Ghost in the Shell.

meme credit: @ValerieComplex

I also recently read an article on food gentrification – a phenomenon I’d often noticed but never put a name to – by Sara Peters over at Knowable.

I’ve sat out of the GitS discussion for the most part, waiting for my Filipina Fire to burn itself out enough that I can contribute with as little acidity as possible.

As a lover of movies and a lover of food, I am a lover of stories. Movies tell a story. Food also tells a story, particularly when someone makes the effort of sharing theirs with you.

And I think the most basic thing about whitewashing – whether with movies or food – is the way it corrupts those stories. It takes and proliferates toxic assumptions to a wide audience, whether the level on which it infects that audience is conscious or not.

These assumptions are as follows:

  1. That white people will only find this story about an [Asian / Black / Latino / etc] protagonist interesting / compelling / relevant if we make that protagonist white.
  2. That white people will only care about the character and make an emotional investment if the character is white.
  3. Assumptions 1 and 2 imply that white people feel the same about real-life stories and real-life people.
  4. That if you’re white, you can’t relate to – and don’t have to care about – those “other” people.
  5. That if you’re not white, then you shouldn’t expect white people to relate to or care about you.
  6. That if you’re not white, you can’t ever expect to be the protagonist of any story – not in your work, your community, or your life.

In other words, guys,
Whitewashing is damaging both to the cultures being denied representation, and to the white people who actually do see non-whites as being equally Human.

Growing up in Smallville taught me that yes, there’s plenty of white people who view non-whites as being somehow “less than”.

But spending my late teens and early adulthood in Downtown Vancouver, Kitsilano, East Van, the West End, the Drive, Burnaby, Richmond, and Toronto have taught me that – at least in places where your next-door neighbour lives less than a ten minute walk away and probably isn’t related to you – people in general care about one another.

If you see someone struggling to push the pedestrian button because they’re carrying loads of groceries, you’ll likely also see a complete stranger approach them and save their day (in a small way) by pushing the button for them.

Sure, that story isn’t as exciting as that of a cyber-enhanced soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals… but it’s one people care about – enough to do something about, even if it’s just small.

So please, Hollywood. Please, big-city food scene. Stop telling people that they’re bigger assholes than they are. Stop telling them they should be bigger assholes than they are.

Because if they start believing you, no good will come of it.


nerd rush // dc tv

Groundhog Day Continues

I’ve always been more of a Marvel girl – well, not the Marvel Girl – but a Marvel fan who is also a girl. Still, as much as I’ve followed Marvel Comics forever, having purchased my first Wolverine at the tender age of six, my favourite superhero has always been Batman.

I’ve never been a fan of Justice League, having always found DC’s pantheon to be full of boring characters (especially a Batmanless Superman). Still, I thought that Bat-trickle would be worth it all. I milked the entire series, including Justice League Unlimited for more Batman and in the process, I discovered something I never expected: Batman isn’t the only thing I could ever love in DCI’ll do my best to whiz through my opinions of the buffet of shows I’ve gobbled down in the past month.

I grew up watching Batman: The Animated SeriesBatman/Superman Adventures, that bubblegum adaptation with Adam West, and every last live action Batman flick, with the sole and very pointedly chosen exception of Halle Berry’s Catwoman. Any time a new Batflick is out, I’m on it like Bane on Venom. Under the Red HoodYear OneDark Knight Returns… It was inevitable that I would eventually run out of material that wouldn’t commit me to a new addiction of pouring my money into a comic subscription. Luckily, two of my best buds in Brooklyn know DC much better than I do, and were ready, willing, and eager to point me to some new stuff.

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nerd rush // my thoughts on the new lex luthor

So, apparently WB announced the actor cast as Lex Luthor for teh new Batman vs Superman movie.

I hold a firm belief that the conversation prior to this decision went a little something like this:

“Who should we get as Luthor?”
“Oooh what about Bryan Cranston?”
“You know.. Heisenberg! Like in Breaking Bad. Y’know.. Jesse & Heisenberg?”
“Ohhhhh YEAH!” [feigns understanding]

3 days later, this happens:
Meet your new Lex Luthor: Jesse Eisenberg
Oh, and Jeremy Irons is Alfred.
A lot of fans have declared for or against the casting for each major role in this film so far… but I for one will make my decision only when I’ve seen the movie.  ‘Til then, I’ll just huddle in my room with my laptop and devour popcorn while Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly make my geek ears tickle.

nerd rush // x-men: first class almost makes up for wolverine. almost.

this is what you get when you take uncanny, astonishing, new, and x-treme, mix them all together and give them shiny new ideas to replace all the tired old ones

In typical nerd fashion, my friends and I made a b-line for the theatres once X-Men: First Class was released.  For a number of reasons, I really wasn’t expecting much more than a sore face.  You know, due to excessive facepalming.

What were those reasons?  There was the gruelling experience that had been X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  Furthermore, the original posters for XMFC looked like they’d been done by an eight year old on MS Paint.  (Not the one on the right.  That one’s nice.)  And Kevin Bacon?  Really?  I don’t know if I can take a super-Bacon villain seriously.  I didn’t care about the shiny trailers;  the first fifteen minutes of X2 were mindblowing, but the rest was a disappointment.  By that logic, there was a high likelihood that this movie was going to suck.

I consider this one of many situations where I’m glad I turned out to be wrong.

X-Men: First Class was awesome.  In my opinion, absolutely nothing in the entire Marvel Universe could ever hope to make up for – or undo the emotional damage that was – X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

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