Frenemies, Magical Negroes & Biscuits: True Blood S03E07

Hosted by Thea Lim, featuring Joseph Lamour, Tami Winfrey Harris, Latoya Peterson and Andrea Plaid

Dearest Commenters, please refrain from sharing spoilers that come from the books. Feel free to talk openly about anything that has been already aired, but don’t share storylines from the books that have not yet made their way into the show, just for the sake of fans of the TV show who haven’t read the books.

Tara Would Never Turn Her Back on Her Friend

Thea: Once again Tara saves the day by kicking Bill in the face. Ok, maybe it was the arm but I like to think it was the face.

You know, as much as I don’t really mind Bill, I was like “yeeah!” when Tara did that, just because it moved the plot forward in a non-simpering way. I also really like this Getting Shit Done version of Tara. I do NOT care for the way we keep getting scenes with Tara telling Sookie how Bill betrayed her, and Sookie screaming “wahh wahh two wrongs don’t make a right.” Is the idea that an aggregation of these scenes will give the viewer closure for what Bill did to Tara? I think not. It’s infuriating.

I really dislike the way that Sookie is written. I believe (though I could be wrong) that her heartlessness towards Tara (while she accuses Tara of being insensitive) is not so much built into the character herself, but more the product of TB’s writers’ inability to write women who aren’t shallow and self-centered. For example, the only way that Sookie can think of to distract Debbie is by screaming? Can you be any more Damsel in Distress? C’mon.

Andrea: My eyes rolled when she did that. But–as y’all know–I’ve disliked the way Sookie’s been written and portrayed since I started watching this show. She becomes brattier and brattier as each week passes. Her reaction to what Tara expresses about Bill turning his back on her simply fortifies my opinion of her. As Tami rightfully pointed out last week, this is childishness masquerading as sassiness….which, as Sookie proves, has a tendency to curdle into said temper-tantrum throwing state.

I mean, Tara is supposed to be Sookie’s homegurl from back in the day, right? It would seem to me that Sookie could have at least paused when Tara told her what happened just to acknowledge that her dearest friend not only has gone through some atrocious shit but that the shit was exacerbated by her man. And that Tara still–still!–helps Bill out because Tara knows how much Bill matters to Sookie, then even kicks her man’s ass for almost killing Sookie. On the other hand, Sookie “not leaving without Bill” almost gets her supposed bestie Tara (not to mention her protector Alcide) killed. And that doesn’t register anything in Sookie but “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Again, Tara keeps proving she’s the better friend. I just think Tara needs better friends….like Alcide, who at least gave her the space to “relax” (and Tara nearly starts crying, which is a beautiful acting moment by Rutina Wesley) and put his arm around her when the doctor told Tara about Sookie’s condition and that Tara had to notify Jason’s dumb ass. Alcide barely knows Tara and still knows how to act like a friend.

Latoya: Yes, this episode was full of friendship fail.

I’m going to wash my brain out:

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Hey Baby: Link Round-up & Open Thread

By Guest Contributor Alex Raymond, cross-posted from Border House

Trigger warning: Street harassment.

So, recently a Flash game was released that caused a bit of a stir on a number of gaming (and feminist) websites. The game is called Hey, Baby, and it is a game about street harassment. It is a first-person shooter where you play as a woman walking around a city fighting off waves of men who approach you while repeating “classic” street harassment lines, everything from the notorious “Smile, baby” to shouted rape threats. Killing the harassers results in a gravestone popping up with their line engraved on it. There are also both male and female bystanders who do nothing and can’t be killed. If possible, I do recommend playing the game a little before reading this post; it’s a Flash game and only takes a minute to play, although it is quite violent.

There have been a number of different reactions to the game around the internet. It has started a conversation in the gaming online community about street harassment (and in the feminist blogosphere about satirically violent video games), and for that alone, I think this is a win. But I’d like to take a closer look at the various reactions surrounding the game.

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links for 2010-08-03

  • "'Our findings are significant because we proved that bias can be present but not be detected by even the top experts in the field, which could result in inaccurate prediction of outcomes such as job and academic performance for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of individuals,' Aguinis said."
  • "'During the rain delay, an ESPN broadcaster asked a black crew member if he could tap dance. Oddly enough, I can't recall any white crew members being asked to do so.'
    "Funny, we can't either."
  • "On the other hand, the game Under Ash (Tahta al-Ramad), based on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (from the Palestinians’ point of view), humanized Palestinians by giving them significant backstories that explained how they came to be involved in the Palestinian resistance. It presented Israeli soldiers as the enemy but specifically prohibited players from harming either Palestinian or Israeli civilians (in a sequel to Under Ash, titled Under Siege, Tahta al-Hisar, killing a civilian automatically leads to a “game over” message). It doesn’t allow any type of peaceful interaction with Israelis, but it is one of the few games based on the Middle East that presents cities as full of inhabitants whose lives are valuable, regardless of which side of a conflict they’re on."
  • "The Fair Sentencing Act repeals a five-year mandatory sentence for first time offenders, and for repeat offenders with less than 28 grams of crack cocaine. The old law set the mandatory sentence for conviction at five grams.

    "Under the old statute, mandatory minimum sentences involving crack — a drug more commonly used by blacks than whites, according to government statistics — led to far more severe penalties than for offenses involving powder cocaine, generally preferred by whites."

  • "Why won’t Chanel and the others publicize the fact that they make plus sized clothing? Simple. Because they know damned well that there is a certain type of woman identified as being plus sized – she is poor, cannot afford quality, is so unattractive that surely she wouldn’t wear my clothing anyway, whatever… the plus sized woman simply is not respected. 'Her mere presence in a store must offend the sensibilities of the average size 2… thus why other labels had to force her to resort to shopping online only. We must keep them out of our stores, so that thin people won’t think our store only caters to big people!'

    "To me, this is the bottom line.. and it sucks."

Is M. Night Shyamalan Really A Failure?

By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, cross-posted from Televisual

Watching the previews for Salt, I had what appears to be a common experience. The trailer for an elevator-themed film came on. It seemed strange: what is this movie? What’s it about? My confusion grew into clarity when the words “From the Mind of M. Night Shyamalan” preceding the title Devil came on the big screen. I sighed, recognizing the trademark “things are not as they appear” quality to the trailer. The rest of the audience, however, groaned.

Groaning at the sight Shyamalan’s name has been reported from screening to screening. The phrase “box office poison” is now repeatedly being associated with the director’s name. Shyamalan is only credited as creating the story for Devil, but already people are asking if the film can redeem his credibility. Shyamalan has hit a nadir, causing people to question his career and brand him a failure, a has-been riding off The Sixth Sense. My question: is it true? Continue reading

links for 2010-08-02

  • ""But last week the Senate quietly voted to strip funding for the case, known as the Pigford II settlement. The move came on the heels of the Shirley Sherrod scandal, as conservative opposition to the settlement grew after conservative lawmakers learned that a farm collective founded by Sherrod and her husband was set to receive $13 million from the case.

    "On a conference call earlier today, John Boyd, Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association, announced that that Senate will vote on a stand-alone authorizing funds for settlement claims."

  • "A new strain of Nazism has found an unlikely home: Mongolia.

    "Once again, ultra-nationalists have emerged from an impoverished economy and turned upon outsiders. This time the main targets come from China, the rising power to the south."

  • "In June, Mr. Sagbo became the first black to be elected to office in Russia.

    "In a country where racism is entrenched and often violent, Mr. Sagbo's election as one of Novozavidovo's 10 municipal councilors is a milestone. But among the town's 10,000 people, the 48-year-old from the West African country of Benin is viewed simply as a Russian who cares about his hometown."

  • "In New York, where ground zero has slowly blended back into the fabric of the city, government officials appear poised to approve plans for the sprawling complex, which would have as many as 15 stories and would house a prayer space, a performing arts center, a pool and a restaurant.

    "But around the country opposition is mounting, fueled in part by Republican leaders and conservative pundits. Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, has urged 'peace-seeking Muslims' to reject the center, branding it an 'unnecessary provocation.' A Republican political action committee has produced a television commercial assailing the proposal. And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has decried it in speeches."

  • "This is not the first time Latinos in Port Richmond have been victimized in bias attacks. Ms. Troia, executive director of Project Hospitality, an interfaith organization that serves the poor of Staten Island, said the violence dates back to 2003. In one attack, a Mexican immigrant who worked as a cook at an IHOP restaurant was killed by three assailants in 2006, according to local activists and the Mexican Consulate in New York.

    "The Rev. Dr. Tony Baker, pastor of St. Philip’s Baptist Church in the neighborhood’s heart, said the attacks pointed to deep-seated problems. 'I think we’ve gone to sleep on the conditions we find ourselves in,' he said. 'And we woke up in the midst of a racial war.'”

  • "Another form of bias occurs over who gets to speak.  Folks in the uppermost echelons of social strata, government officials, well-known celebrities, doctors, lawyers, politicians and scientists typically receive much more deference than other sources. And the greater the expertise of the source, the less likely the journalist will question what she says.

    "So when a news story pits 'scientists' against Indians, and it the story is framed as science, it is predictable which groups will gain instant legitimacy. In all the conflicts I’ve mentioned, scientists and government officials get a head start in the legitimacy race. Indians are left at the starting gate and are forced to voice their opposition within an already-established framework that journalists sanction, even if they’re unaware of their complicity."

  • "Her comments elicited a large round of enthusiastic applause. And if the people sitting at my table were anything to go by, audience members were not uneducated rednecks or right-wing conservatives, but liberal, left-leaning folk who would proudly reel off their support for equality and social justice in most other contexts.
    And that’s when my epiphany happened. Where once I would have been clapping vigorously along, pleased to have my long-held assumptions confirmed by ‘someone who knows’ and who ‘you can’t really argue with’, I felt sick."
  • "I have been stewing over the implications of TIME’s decision to run the face of a mutilated Afghani woman on the cover of the magazine to raise awareness about women’s rights in Afghanistan. Many have applauded TIME’s decision to do this calling it courageous and effective, all while recognizing this is also a cheap plea for magazine sales. I am taking issue specifically with the use of the image on the cover, not the article itself which was not available online in its entirety (but trust I will steal my dad’s copy of TIME asap). My inquiry is two fold: first, the assumption that military presence in Afghanistan has made women’s rights better is a complicated one that shouldn’t be taken for granted and the second is, using the faces and bodies of women to make a generalization is objectifying. It is rare that women’s bodies have been used to understand their voices, especially when discussing the “other.” Instead they are often used to create mystique and reify colonial fantasy."

SDCC Notebook: The Fan Diaspora & Eric Wallace on diversity in DC Comics

By Arturo R. García

Reginald Hudlin summed up a lot of fans’ concerns about DC Comics’ recent storylines during his annual “Black Panel” in his response to a fan’s question: “DC Comics is very much into the nostalgia business,” Hudlin said; later in the hour he called it “bad business.” No one in the room packed full of POC fans disagreed with him.

And make no mistake – POC fans and cosplayers abounded at the convention. From my perspective there were more of us at the convention compared to last year. The sad thing, however, is that heroes of color were under-represented, either in cosplay (Isaiah Bradley there was an exception) or in the news; the biggest announcement regarding a POC superhero – unless you’re counting Robert Rodriguez’s Machete, and that character’s a whole other ball of wax – concerned DC’s kicking off a new Static ongoing series next year, with a black writer, Felicia D. Henderson (Fringe, Teen Titans) at the helm. But Henderson’s run on Titans garnered several negative reviews, prompting an equally bad response on DC’s own website.

With the Teen Titans themselves going through a cast white-washing under Henderson’s replacement, J.T. Krul, the status of most diverse cast in the DCU now falls to Eric Wallace’s Titans For Hire, a series which generated its’ own share of controversy when the Atom, Ryan Choi, was murdered in the first issue. I got the chance to talk to Wallace about Choi’s death, his own experiences as a black comic-book fan, and on diversity in DC’s stories.