[Discussion] On Television, Cinema and Race

Thread for race issues in media.

Birth Of a Nation
This movie isn't do so good. I think this is because black people are tired of slave type movies, white people don't want the white guilt, and everybody else is turned off by the rape case. I mean this in general. This is just a perfect storm for the downfall of the movie.

Surviving Compton
Straight out of compton left out the ladies. This lifetime show means to correct that. I believe all of the production was done by women.

Mulan live.
All Chinese cast. Maybe the dumb choices of Gods of Egypt are over.

Alright, this is taking the point of this thread VERY broadly, but it caught my interest.

So the WWE's expanding it's streaming service to China. Why do I find this interesting? Well, the WWE's been trying to build a market there (I've been paying casual attention to pro wrestling over the last year or two), looking to hire new wrestlers from there and other untapped markets (it's arguably part of the reason Jinder Mahal currently has a belt).

But more importantly, the WWE (and pro wrestling in general) traffics a lot in... shall we call them "crude" stereotypes? And I wonder if that kind of thing will fly in China if they try it, and not just with the government, but with Chinese people, who are very emphatically not here for feeling like they or China itself is being insulted by foreigners.

Will they completely elide those issues and choose to do something different and not touch any volatile issues? Or will their first Chinese wrestler be some kind of honking great Mao Zedong caricature who gets into a feud with another wrestler and then someone mentions something about Taiwan and it all goes straight to hell?

My guess would probably be "go nowhere within 10,000 miles of anything politically volatile, RE: China."

Given some of the racist things in Chinese media I would suspect old style wrestling stereotypes would go over very well. However, they would probably do it how wrestling is currently without the over the top racism. For countries like Japan they just send the US episodes over. They don't do a new league .

Oh, they're not going to do a new league, but they ARE trying to get Chinese talent. My question is, when they GET that talent (because they're going to push someone eventually), how are they going to treat it? Because it's one thing if you're making fun of other groups, but, as I said, from what I've gleaned, the people of China are NOT here for having their nation insulted by foreigners (or other Chinese people, for that matter).

I would imagine they'll just have their new wrestlers use existing stereotypes Chinese people have about themselves and their different localities. Not going the Kung-Fu Panda route and consulting experts on Chinese culture for how to appeal to Chinese viewers without offending them would be incredibly stupid.

Music video by Logic about a black teen going through life being gay.

OK I'm engaging the hive mind.

A little background, I'm Chinese (from Singapore) but have been living in the US for about ten years. The opposite party I consider a friend but not a close friend - we get together from time to time and communicate through Facebook and texting. He is white (from Michigan) and has gone a little politics crazy after the election - I will call him "Justin."

Justin has been on a tear lately about the portrayal of minorities in media citing whitewashing in movies and TV as the reasoning for not watching certain shows and for portraying them as horrible and "racist." I engaged with him (not very wise) on "Iron Fist" and "The Defenders" - personally I don't have a problem with Iron Fist being a white guy. I understand why some people have issues - and I acknowledge those issues.

Justin some what freaked out when this came up between us and started ticking off all the reasons I need to feel outrage (all of which I understand), then started accusing me that I'm not really Chinese because I'm not from "Actual China" (truthfully I don't understand this claim). I responded by telling him that a white guy demanding how I should feel about how my own race is portrayed in media seemed much like the colonizer oppressing the colonized. Needless to say I told him I thought that HE was being racist about it. He left in a huff (boardgame night) and posted a long note on FB about the incident (and to note he didn't mention my race so he got a lot of people responding that I was a racist for thinking whitewashing is ok)

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think I am. Where is the line on this - when can someone decide that whitewashing is wrong or right, and is Justin being racist, misdirected, or am I being racist thinking that he shouldn't lecture me about it?

*writes, erases, writes again, erases*

Bottom line: Justin's being a dick.

Flintheart Glomgold wrote:

is Justin being racist, misdirected, or am I being racist thinking that he shouldn't lecture me about it?

I feel like some people love being on the right side of history and feel empowered trying to force that history as quickly as possible. He finds it problematic that there aren't many minorities in mainstream media, then I assume he feels that anyone else not outraged are tacit collaborators by letting it happen. I don't think anyone's particularly right here. Sure, there should be more representation in movies, but shoehorning it in doesn't feel any better. If a movie takes place in rural Vermont, there's probably not going to be a lot of gay Muslim black women in that setting.

Flintheart Glomgold wrote:

then started accusing me that I'm not really Chinese because I'm not from "Actual China"

My personal favorite No True Scotsman fallacy. Like, just look at the Great Wall. A movie made and financed by Chinese people for Chinese people who independently decided to cast three westerners in the lead roles. Hollywood is very star focused, and it seems even China doesn't get away from this.

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

*writes, erases, writes again, erases*

Bottom line: Justin's being a dick.

This.

Justin, in an attempt to perform being on the right side of racism, falls on the wrong side of it.

Call it White Male Fragility or whatever you like. Seems like Justin has internalized the "don't be a dick when it comes to race" message a little too literally, and devoid of context or nuance. He's attempting to take the high road ("there are problems with depictions of race in media"), but neglects to notice that there's a Chinese person in the middle of that road, so he runs them straight over instead of deviate from what he has been told on numerous occasions is the most noble of roads.

1.) I thought you were a duck and am a bit let down tbh

2.)

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

*writes, erases, writes again, erases*

Bottom line: Justin's being a dick.

Thanks hive mind, I feel better about it overall that Justin was just being a jerk.

Justin's being a bad ally. His conscious motives are in the right place, but rather than demanding outrage, he should be coming alongside folks and defending their right to get upset, which allows for those folks to be upset or gracious or whatever.

Prederick wrote:

Alright, this is taking the point of this thread VERY broadly, but it caught my interest.

So the WWE's expanding it's streaming service to China. Why do I find this interesting? Well, the WWE's been trying to build a market there (I've been paying casual attention to pro wrestling over the last year or two), looking to hire new wrestlers from there and other untapped markets (it's arguably part of the reason Jinder Mahal currently has a belt).

But more importantly, the WWE (and pro wrestling in general) traffics a lot in... shall we call them "crude" stereotypes? And I wonder if that kind of thing will fly in China if they try it, and not just with the government, but with Chinese people, who are very emphatically not here for feeling like they or China itself is being insulted by foreigners.

Will they completely elide those issues and choose to do something different and not touch any volatile issues? Or will their first Chinese wrestler be some kind of honking great Mao Zedong caricature who gets into a feud with another wrestler and then someone mentions something about Taiwan and it all goes straight to hell?

My guess would probably be "go nowhere within 10,000 miles of anything politically volatile, RE: China."

I think the trick is that even in white characters, wrestling uses broad-brush caricature, with the idea that the audience should be able to pick up what they are and whether they're heel/face very easily. The trick is that the signifiers of a caricature vary by culture, so spanning multiple cultures and having signifiers still "work" is going to be tough.

Regarding Dan Carlin stuff, I agree that he at least generally wants to be on the right side of things politically, but he's still sort of stuck in a fair number of older ways of thinking when it comes to history, and the "softness" of current Western culture is definitely part of that. It definitely bugs me. That said, I took the stuff about not being able to imagine genocide in his current context as a maybe-unintentional admission of his privilege and the way it blinds him.

In fact, our current American culture has leveraged the alienation of global capitalism to obscure a great deal cultural genocide committed in the name of progress. Not that there aren't benefits that come with "modernization," but there certainly are also costs.

But then Larry's answer is also clearly correct.

LarryC wrote:

He might have better insight into it if he advocated listening to people talking about their experiences having it done to them.

wordsmythe wrote:

Regarding Dan Carlin stuff, I agree that he at least generally wants to be on the right side of things politically, but he's still sort of stuck in a fair number of older ways of thinking when it comes to history, and the "softness" of current Western culture is definitely part of that. It definitely bugs me. That said, I took the stuff about not being able to imagine genocide in his current context as a maybe-unintentional admission of his privilege and the way it blinds him.

In fact, our current American culture has leveraged the alienation of global capitalism to obscure a great deal cultural genocide committed in the name of progress. Not that there aren't benefits that come with "modernization," but there certainly are also costs.

But then Larry's answer is also clearly correct.

LarryC wrote:

He might have better insight into it if he advocated listening to people talking about their experiences having it done to them.

Maybe I'm being generous because I like the guy. But when I listened to it, I thought he was doing both of these. It sounded to me like he was saying, "As a middle-class white guy in America, it is nearly impossible to even imagine what it would be like to be involved in a genocide, because it is so far removed from anything close to my experience." He acknowledged that it's hard for him to picture it and why. And that's why he reads original sources and diaries of people involved in events, and frequently encourages his listeners to do that too. I thought it was a very intentional admission of privilege and encouragement to go read original sources.

So there is comic called Harriet Tubman Demon Slayer. I'm not sure how I feel about it but think this could be disrespectful.
Your text to link here...

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that maybe, as a white guy, I probably should not be telling black artists that they are disrespectful of their race.

As a black guy I don't mind calling out black artists for being disrespectful. I'm not sure if this is disrespectful though.

At least at first look, it seems to be similar to Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Which was a terrible movie, but the book wasn't awful, so maybe this won't be bad ridiculous.

I actually liked that movie, it was fun.

Anyway Ed Skrein drops out of Hell Boy because of white washing.
Hell Boy why not Hell Girl

I read a few Hellboy comics and wasn't aware of the character being white washed. I only read graphic novels and not the series.

Baron Of Hell wrote:

So there is comic called Harriet Tubman Demon Slayer. I'm not sure how I feel about it but think this could be disrespectful.

Did you mean to say "awesome"? Because I think you meant to say "awesome."

Her heroism has been re-imagined as steamfunk and her remarkable feats given irreverent treatment. I don't think her legend is diminished by these things.

My opinion as a WASP (White Anglo-Slavic Pagan).

Was steamfunk a typo? Cause either way that sounds awesome.

lunchbox12682 wrote:

Was steamfunk a typo? Cause either way that sounds awesome.

Not a typo.

An offshoot of sword & soul fantasy.

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

sword & soul fantasy.

Why have they not made a movie in this genre yet?

Rat Boy wrote:
H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

sword & soul fantasy.

Why have they not made a movie in this genre yet?

There's some hope that "Nollywood" (Nigeria's burgeoning film industry) will be first to step up.

Black Panther looks very steamfunk to me.

Vector wrote:

Black Panther looks very steamfunk to me.

Or Afrofuture.

Black Girl Nerds did a review on the first comic of Harriet Tubman Demon Slayer.
Harriet Tubman Demon Slayer

Interesting review and raises the potential issue I have with the comic. Making slavery and racism the actions of supernatural actors it runs the risk of effectively covering their institutional and human roots.

I trust the author threads that needle and hopefully he lulls a wider white readership into it and gets them to confront the truth and their white fragility. Without knowing the author, but knowing he's a Black man, I suspect that's the plan.

Interesting review and raises the potential issue I have with the comic. Making slavery and racism the actions of supernatural actors it runs the risk of effectively covering their institutional and human roots.

I could probably write a real GWJ article about this, but yes and no. Clearly turning bad people into monsters keeps us from having to associate with them and see their evil in us, but it also makes it easier to give more nuance to their motives without risking too sympathetic a portrayal, because they're still literally monsters.