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just who the hell do you think you are, anyway?

Posts Tagged ‘racism

movie reviews: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice + The Princess and the Frog

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Two short movie reviews, crossposted from my personal journal. Expect posts in more depth soon. (I actually have time now that I’m home from Japan.)

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
I went to see The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It was pretty good. Nicholas Cage was surprisingly attractive in it; he doesn’t usually do much for me, but the Aragorn-esque outfit helped. /easy to please There was some serious Lord of the Rings ripoff stuff in there; e.g., Morgan le Fay’s freak out was filmed just like Galadriel’s “in place of a Dark Lord you shall have a Queen” thing. A decent summer movie, but not a great one – the car chase was so-so, but the car itself was an old Bentley. Classy. (Unfortunately, the car did not remain a Bentley for the duration of the chase. Now that would have been awesome.)
My biggest complaint was that the female characters weren’t characters, just love interests. Becky in particular was really boring – not quite cheerleader, not quite Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but definitely ~*perfect*~ and c’mon, just because you knew someone in fourth grade doesn’t mean you’re destined to be together. They didn’t seem to have anything in common beyond that; she was a music major who does yoga and he was a gawky physics nerd. (Yoga was not, in this instance, used to show that she was a selfish bitch, though! It often is.)
Veronica had some potential, but she nobly sacrificed herself in the first ten minutes and then was pretty much useless when she came back.
Oh, and the whole reason shit happened was because the two male apprentices fought over the female one. Plus, the big bad was a woman.
Girls: will do nothing but fuck your life up. (Becky was a constant distraction from David’s training to save the world.)
Needless to say, I was displeased with that part. Also, it did not pass the Bechdel Test. Actually, it didn’t even get close; two named female characters didn’t even talk, let alone about boys. The closest we got was Becky talking to an African-American woman in a coffee shop (a convo we did not hear so much as see through David’s stalker gaze), so they could show how politically correct they/the characters are and still have a film entirely about white people.
I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE, FILMMAKERS.
… and I’m sick of your bullshit.
The mop scene was fun, though; David basically does like Magical Mickey, complete with the music from the same scene in Fantasia.

The Princess and the Frog

Mouse and I watched The Princess and the Frog. I thought it was a let-down; the music wasn’t very inspired and for all the ruckus Disney made about Tiana being the first Black protagonist in an animated Disney film, she was only human for about 15% of the film. Talk about a cop out.
Oh, and the previews for Tangled, which I was originally excited for because the concept art was really pretty and Rapunzel was supposed to be kinda awesome, are really leaving me cold. It looks like another trite “princess saves herself and the prince” story – and I am all about girls kicking ass and taking names instead of being helpless and rescued all of the time, but these half-assed knockoffs inevitably destroy the grrrl power message somehow and end up reinforcing boring heteronormativity. Yawn. If anything they’re even worse, because you’ve gotta work hard and be awesome, but still, your reward at the end of the day is a man, instead of full-fledged personhood and legal/social equality for yourself.
The Princess and the Frog had the same problem. Tiana knew what she wanted and how to get it, but in the end, her life just wouldn’t be complete without a man. ‘Cause all career driven single women are bitter ugly harpy spinsters and we definitely don’t get movies about us. =/ She was doing fine without a man, you know. I would have liked that movie much better: girl and dude decide that they can be friends or try again later, but right now she’s got shit to do, you know?

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Written by Fangirl

July 16, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Magic Under Glass

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the new, not-whitewashed, cover for Magic Under Glass

the new and improved cover: two figures, a taller man and a shorter woman, stand facing each other beneath a glass bell jar; behind the man is a piano; outside of the bell jar, pink flowers and petals are falling

Bloomsbury USA has done it again.
No, not found “the next Harry Potter,” unfortunately. No, Bloomsbury USA has, once again, whitewashed a book jacket. This is the second time within a year that this company has done this: first was with Liar, about a bi-racial girl with short hair who mysteriously turned into a long haired white girl on the cover of the book. Liar, thankfully, was fixed before the hardcover went to press, though advance reading copies featured the white model.

Magic Under Glass, however, was released in hardback with the white model. Some people have called for a boycott of Bloomsbury, while others are writing to the company to express their dissatisfaction, but avoiding the potential harm to the fledgling author’s career.

So, what to do? Bloomsbury has withdrawn the whitewashed cover, and a new design is in the works. So, while you may be dying to read what sounds like a really fun fantasy novel, I suggest holding back and waiting until the new & improved cover is available at a bookstore near you. Don’t buy the whitewashed cover, if it’s still available. Wait until the corrected version comes out, and then get you and everyone you know to buy it, so that Bloomsbury (and other publishing companies) will know that yes, people do buy and read books about people of color, so they can stop representing characters of color with white models.

Written by Fangirl

January 24, 2010 at 1:00 pm

how to be a better feminist: a beginner’s guide

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Let’s start with this: I’m not a good feminist. I’m still working through my own issues around race, class, gender, sexuality. You name it, I’m still working through my issues on it. On the whole, I try to keep my privileged mouth shut, because most of the time, I don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s possible that I don’t know what I’m talking about in this post, either – but here’s how I’m starting to learn how to talk about it.

I made notes of as many identities as I could think of on the “about me” page,* so I won’t list them again here. They might be worth looking over if you want to know where I’m coming from.

I mentioned in my open letter to Feministing that they had strongly influenced me as a budding feminist, which, given what I’ve recently discovered, makes me uncomfortable. A lot of people have a lot of problems with their brand of feminism – what some have called narcissistic feminism – and I don’t want to be the kind of feminist that people within the movement have problems with. I have problems with a lot of those problems; I don’t want to be an ableist feminist, a racist feminist, a transphobic feminist … I want to be a feminist feminist.

But where to begin? When one of the biggest feminist blogs has failed you in this regard, what to do and where to go? Go everywhere. Follow links left by commenters to their blogs, and the blogs of other people. When you stumble across a blogger you agree with, don’t just read her blog, read her blogroll.†

For that matter, when you read a blog you don’t agree with – specifically, one that makes you feel defensive or uncomfortable – examine why. Maybe they’re just transmisogynist/homophobic/racist/classist/ableist/generally asshatty douchebags whose opinions are better left ignored. Maybe – and this is why you have to examine why you feel so uncomfortable reading what they’re writing –  they’re hitting you where it hurts: right in the privilege zone, which I imagine to be located around the solar plexus. (Have you ever been kicked in the solar plexus? I was, once, during martial arts: it hurts, and it sort-of makes you feel like you can’t breathe and want to throw up – all in all, quite the unpleasant experience.)

Confession time: sometimes Womanist Musings makes me feel uncomfortable which is why I keep reading it. Renee has some brilliant insights, many of which force me to examine my own privilege. It’s uncomfortable, like when someone tells you that there’s something stuck in your teeth … as you’re heading home from the party. Only it’s worse, because it’s not just that you’ve looked silly all day without meaning to or realizing it, but because you’ve been hurting people, possibly for your whole life, without meaning to or realizing it. Obviously, it’s more comfortable for you to just not know – but it’s not more comfortable for the people you’ve been unconsciously inflicting your privilege on.

While we’re on the topic of unconsciously inflicting your privilege, this is also why I don’t comment on WM: because I have issues that I still need to work through before I can be anything more than a well-meaning troll. Well meaning, certainly, but on the whole, my contributions would still detract from a generally more intelligent, more experienced dialog. Sometimes, it’s okay to speak up, but sometimes you should just sit down and shut the hell up.

(Never, ever try to tell someone else how it is for them. I shouldn’t have to say this, but it does happen and now stop it. The oppressor does not get to tell the oppressed what is and is not offensive. Write that down and stick it next to your monitor. Look at it every time you engage in conversation online about feminist issues.)

(Oh, and notice I made that a link? Don’t use other people’s ideas without crediting them; it’s not just good feminism, it’s good writing – whether that be blogging or academic writing or fanfiction.)

So there it is. Perhaps it’s a bit conceited or overblown to call this post “how to be a better feminist,” but I figured it might at least catch your attention. I’ll add the caveat “how to learn to be a better feminist if you’re a college-educated white woman just getting involved in this whole equality thing” (Have you noticed the blog title? I’m all about hyperbole.) I hope you even learned something, or found a link to another, more experienced and articulate blogger who taught you something.
(Also, reading real books is a good thing to do – but books, like blogs, tend to be dominated by a privileged “mainstream” few. Also, they’re expensive.)


*with the exception of a distinct class identity, because I’m not sure where I belong in that spectrum (more on this later)
†hi there, feminist men with feminist blogs! I don’t mean to erase you, but in my experience, the majority of bloggers (that I read) are female (actually, I read one blog authored by  a man)

Written by Fangirl

October 12, 2009 at 1:27 pm