All posts by Kendra James

The Racialicious Review Of 12 Years A Slave

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup in 12 Years A Slave

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup in 12 Years A Slave

By Kendra James

Warning: This review contains spoilers, and discussion of abuse, violence, and rape.

Normally, knowing that a story has a “happy ending” helps to ease the burden of getting through something horrific. 12 Years a Slave is not that movie. It can’t be that movie with the way Steve McQueen dispenses of the conventional methods to show the passing of time. This could be 12 months, 12 weeks, or 12 years and we wouldn’t have known; I even lost track of how long I’d been in the theatre. There’s no clear changing of the seasons; no transition from spring to summer or fall, just once the point made that a crop of cotton has been lost.

Time is marked by the passing of violence rather than the passing of seasons, and it blurs and stretches and bunches together in places as it must have for Solomon Northup  (a triumphant Chiwetel Ejiofor) himself. By not providing the viewer with any demarcation of time McQueen effectively puts us in his lead character’s position. How long Solomon’s been enslaved doesn’t matter and there’s no concrete end. Just one dehumanising experience to live through after another.

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The Walking Dead Roundtable 4.1: “30 Days Without an Accident”

Hosted by Jeannie Chan

Welcome back to a new season of The Walking Dead! Every week, I will nitpick er, lead a roundtable discussion of the previous Sunday’s episode. (For a recap on the plot of the episode, go here!) We ease into the fourth season of the series with a low body count and a general sense that our post-apocalyptic survivors are holding their own and doing pretttty well? Which, in theory, affords us more time to get to know these people a little better. Carly Mitchell and Kiki Smith join me this week to analyze the new character Bob Stookey and how well the Woodburies are fitting in with the rest of the group.

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NYCC Panel Recap; Geeks Of Color Assemble!: Minorities in Fandom

by Kendra James

The Geeks Of Color Assemble!: Minorities in Fandom panel featured friends of the R activist, academic, and steampunk blogger Diana Pho (who acted as moderator) and fantasy author N.K Jemisin, a friend of mine, cosplayer Jay Justice, cosplayer and prop maker Ger Tysk, writers Jeffrey Wilson, Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad, and Emmanuel Ortiz, and writer, blogger and classical music student Muse En Lystrala. As we’ve already covered it was one of the few panels to feature an all POC lineup and subjects of discussion. It also proved to be popular enough that several people waiting in line were unable to attend in the end. Hopefully this roundup helps ease the pain for some of those who were unable to get into this excellent discussion.

Before we dive into the questions and answers presented, it’s important to take a moment to emphasise a point Pho made towards the end of the evening.

If you attended the panel and you liked what you heard, if you wanted to attend the panel but couldn’t, if you wanted to attend but were turned away, or if you simply like what you read of the discussion in this post: Please let those who run New York Comic Con know that you want to see more varied and diverse content at future events. You can rate the panel on the NYCC phone app, you can tweet at them @NY_Comic_Con, or you can write an email to Lance Fensterman and his staff at lance@email-reedexpo.com as I plan to. Anything you can do to make your voice heard is a positive step toward bringing in some change next year.

With that said, let’s get to the panel under the cut:

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Wrapped: New York Comic Con May Need To Move Out

New York Comic Con: Bringing together Rainbow Dashes of all ages.

2013: The year when, at 130,000 attendees, New York Comic Con officially outgrew the Jacob Javits Center. And unfortunately, because of its awkward location, I’m not exactly sure how they’re going to solve this one.

The lack of space affected several aspects of the overall experience this year from the floor feeling more claustrophobic than it ever has in the past, to lines for panels being capped up to 40 minutes in advance of the actual start time. It’s genuinely hard to believe that last year I only had to wait in line for a half hour to get into the Teen Wolf panel and was able to save a seat (a good seat!) for my friend who rushed in at the last minute. This year I avoided that room –1-E, the New York version of Hall H– entirely only to be treated later to horror stories about waiting in line for two hours only to be told later that there was no way you were getting in.

It wasn’t only the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and The Walking Dead types of panels where line waiting and lack of space turned ugly. Those panels were lucky to have the space they did. Smaller panels, including the five (we found one more; last year’s Hip Hop and Comics panel made a return on Sunday at 2:30) on race, diversity, representation, and generally marginalised voices, weren’t always given that space luxury and when the lines were capped well in advance of their start times it meant that a significant amount of people were locked out. I arrived about an 50-60 minutes in advance of the Minorities in Fandom panel after learning the hard way for The Mary Sue panel earlier that day that 20-30 minutes wasn’t going to cut it. Captain Marvel writer and Marvel panelist Kelly Sue DeConnick tweeted out about 30 minutes before the Women of Marvel panel was due to start that the line was about to cap. Since these were the only four options available for discussions in this vein it’s all the more disappointing that this was an ongoing theme.

Last year’s NYCC Hip-Hop panel was incredibly well attended, and The Black Panel at San Diego Comic Con this summer was one of the events to make. Combined with the lines and space issues this year, the draw and presence of an audience for these panels is clear, no matter what NYCC might think as they’re selecting what to feature. I heard several people muse and infer that the NYCC staff made a conscious decision this year to not be known as a convention with a heavy emphasis on “issues”. The few reports I heard of late commers (and by late, I mean people who were standing in line for up to 40 minutes) to the Mary Sue Panel being addressed as “hopeless idiots” by NYCC staffers aligns nicely with that mindset.

We needed more panels, yes, but if there were going to be so few selections those selections needed to be held in rooms large enough to accommodate the women, POCs, LGBTQ, and ally fans who just wanted to spend one hour hearing about something that directly concerned them. There are more of us than those organising the con thought.

One suggestion tossed around in conversation was the idea of satellite locations– using a variety of locations throughout the city to host off site events and panels. SDCC and Dragon*Con both do this by utilising several hotels in San Diego and Atlanta respectively while NYCC sticks solely to the Javits Center. Of course, the Javits Center basically being located in the middle of the West Side Highway, and across multiple expansive construction sites (the walk from 8th avenue to the Javits was murder this year) makes it difficult to imagine how satellite locations would work. The closest and largest hotels that might have the space for off site events are blocks away (New York City blocks; they’re longer than you might think) and it would be difficult to get back and forth without some sort of provided transportation. It could all be done, but I suspect we’d be looking at higher badge prices for future cons.

It’s a lot for Lance Fensterman and the rest of the NYCC team to consider, but it’s at least worth talking about if the ‘issues’ panels aren’t going to be automatically given the space they need.

Between the space and panel issues, the lack of wifi, coming home one afternoon to see several suspect tweets under my account, and the fact that this harassing camera crew got press passes when several legitimate media outlets didn’t, there wasn’t much to be impressed about with the way the con was run this year. With apologies issues concerning the tweet-jacking and the harassment, two of the four issues have been addressed. I’m very curious to see what –if anything– they’ll have to say about panels and space.

Aside from the above, I took away a few other stray observations from this year’s Con as well:

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The Walking Dead Recap 4.1: “30 Days Without An Accident”

Photo by Gene Page/AMC

 By Jeannie Chan

And we’re back! Welcome to Season 4 of The Walking Dead recaps! I will try not to be as long-winded and opinionated in summarizing each week’s episode as I tend to get in the TWD Roundtables, but… I can’t make any promises.

The third season finale left me with so many questions and such disappointment about the gaping plot holes, I completely forgot what happened. AMC is kind enough to refresh our memories and let us know that the prison inherited a bunch of Woodburies. Rick finally admitted that he was not fit to be in charge of everything (sort of) and established a council. Also, Carl’s ease with which he killed another human being is something we definitely need to watch out for.

**SPOILER ALERT! Full recap for The Walking Dead 4.1: “30 Days Without an Accident” under the cut!

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Racialicious attends New York Comic Con 2013

by Kendra James

Let’s keep this short, sweet, and blunt: I’m disappointed at the lack of panels dealing exclusively –or even mentioned in summary– with issues of diversity, gender, sexuality, and other marginalized views at New York Comic Con 2013.

I can’t recommend and won’t be attending too many panels this year. Of 334 panels and screenings I was able to find 3 focusing exclusively on marginalised voices in fandom. 3 panels in 4 days of con-going. (Gosh, how will I ever will I have the time make it to all of them?) I’m thrilled to be attending what I am, but the lack of diverse content is concerning, to say the least.

On Thursday night there’s the LGBT and Allies in Comics panel presented by the New York Times and Geeks Out. X-Men writers Marjorie Liu and and Greg Pak will be featured along with Dan Parent and Rich Bernatovech.

While there are panels that have at least one person of color featured, there’s no focused panel on any marginalised issues in comics, fandom, or media to be found on all of Friday.

Saturday appears to be The Day for diversity at NYCC this year, and by that I mean a grand total of 2 panels will be hosted. The Mary Sue will present Representations in Geek Media at 2:45 where panelists, including Phil Jimenez, will discuss their favorite minority, disabled, LGBTQ and female genre characters. Later that evening at 6:30 I’ll be attending Geeks of Color Assemble!: Minorities in Fandom, a full PoC panel discussing the question of what challenges in media remain that minorities still have to overcome.

On Sunday Marvel hosts their Women of Marvel panel which will once again feature Marjorie Liu, but given that it’s a company sponsored panel one has to wonder how much critique and open discussion will actually take place.

If we’re willing to count Sunday’s panel, that brings the grand total of panels focusing on representation in media to 4 out of 334. Attendance and interest have never seemed to be a problem; the NYCC hip-hop and comics panel was incredibly well attended last year and each focused panel I attended at San Diego Comic Con this summer was filled with people at rapt attention. Nor is it an issue of panels not being submitted*. I try to look on the bright side, reminding myself that cons are exhausting and doing too much tends to ensure that I end up sick on the Monday after, but this is just ridiculous.This may have been the year of Pacific Rim, but this lack of representation at one of the largest cons in the country shows geekdom still has quite a way to go when it comes to leveling the playing field.

As usual, please feel free to say hello if you see me on the floor (between not being in panels all day, and likely being one of the few, if not the only, Black Margaery Tyrell in attendance, I should not be hard to spot), and follow @racialicious and @wriglied for live tweets of the panels I attend and excited reports of any Nicole Beharie sightings.

*In the spirit of full disclosure, Racialicious submitted a panel for consideration on the challenges of growing up as and raising geeks of color. It was not accepted.

Open Thread: Scandal S03E01; It’s Handled

Contrary to popular belief, nothing has actually be handled all that well.

by Kendra James

“You seem to do a lot for a show you say you don’t even like,” one of my friends observed as I explained how I’d bought an Olivia Pope sized wineglass and an all white lounge ensemble (which I can’t wear yet because it’s October 4th and 80 degrees in New York City) to prepare myself for Thursday’s Scandal premiere.

No lies detected there. I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m not quite sure how good Scandal is. Entertaining? Certainly. Good? Questionable in my mind.

What makes the whole sordid affair (literally, as the saga of Olitz treks on) worth a new wine glass and pajamas then? Twitter. Unlike other ABC shows that I assumed would improve with good livetweet –Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD comes to mind– my enjoyment of Scandal really does hinge on my being able to sit down with a glass of wine and the whole of Black Twitter at my fingertips. If nothing else, Scandal provides a unique sense of community that shows with even the largest fandoms could only hope to achieve.

All of that said, the online reactions to last night’s season 3 premiere did not disappoint. And, you know, the show itself wasn’t bad either.

We’ll have our Round Table up sometime next week, but until then feel free to discuss last night down below and have a few stray observations for the road:

  •  How many of us are explaining “work twice as hard to go half as far” to white friends who can’t make that math work at the water cooler this morning. Daddy Pope’s air hanger speech not but 4 minutes into the show proved that Scandal is here to go hard this season.
  • Speaking of Daddy Pope, that is one terrifying man. Terrifying, but I’m going to guess predictable. 10:1 odds that he had something to do with the later mentioned plane crash that killed Olivia’s mother. This is a soap opera after all, and so far no one’s been thrown into a coma.
  • And a final note on Olivia’s background: I was vindicated when her isolated prep school background (which I’ve been calling since S1) was finally revealed.
  • Huck’s presence was missed this week, but as it’s only the season premiere we can cut them some slack for that.
  • Mellie is that mother who will beat you right here in the aisle of this fancy grocery store with all these people watching if you don’t stop acting up right. now. She is tired, she will make a scene, and she’s smart enough to take you down while doing it. Can you imagine Mellie actually in charge of the CIA?
  • Fitz once again prattled on to his VP about “the leader he’s always wanted to be.” We’ve yet to hear what that actually means, but I’m guessing in Fitz’s brain it means “fixing racism by being a Republican with a Black girlfriend.” That’s not a platform.
  • Fitz also proved, as he tried to deal with Olivia, Sally, and Mellie throughout the night, that he sees himself as a master manipulator of women. But I’m sure that’s something we’ll touch on more in the roundtable.
  • The White Burberry Coat That Broke Twitter is listed at Neiman Marcus for the blowout price of $908, which is down from the regular $2595. The matching Prada purse is going to run upwards of $1500, depending which model you want. This reminds us that not only can you probably not afford Olivia Pope’s services, you also can’t afford to be Olivia Pope.
  • Finally, a few good Scandal reads to tide you over into next week: Why Liberals Love TV’s Fictional Conservatives, by our own Tami Winfrey Harris, Twitter, Fandom, and Why ABC’s Scandal Matters by Chicago’s WBEZ blogger Britt Julious, and Olivia Is Back! Why We Love Scandal, by friend of the blog T.F. Charlton.

 

Quoted: On America’s Reaction to Miss America, Nina Davuluri

‘How the f--k does a foreigner win miss America?’ One man tweets after Nina Davuluri’s historic win.

The former Miss New York and Miss America crowning Miss. New York as the new Miss America, via NY Daily News

Keyboards just have a way of bringing out the racist in everyone. Gotta love America.

But a harsh reality is that Miss America, would never be Miss India.  They’re about as messed up when it comes to colorism as other people are.  A former coworker always discussed how her darker Indian family members were discriminated against, and even her own mother warned her to keep her daughter out of the sun so she wouldn’t get dark.  She also used to joke about the Fair & Lovely skin lightening commercials that permeate the airwaves in India.  Coincidentally, Fair & Lovely is a product of Unilever, who also makes Dove.

As Lakshmi Chaudhry, sarcastically but truthfully, wrote on First Post, “That gorgeous chocolate may play as exotic in the West, but in India, we prefer our beauty queens strictly vanilla — preferably accessorised with blue contact lenses.”

-”An Indian-American Was Crowned Miss America & The Racists Reared Their Ugly Racist Heads” by Yesha Calahan via Clutch Magazine