All posts by Latoya Peterson

Third Shot and I’m Starting to Feel It – Shot at Love Recap

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

Okay – I’m starting to get bored with the extensive recaps. So, I’m going to leave that to the official MTV blog and just highlight a couple interesting notes from the show.

The Trouble Same Sex Reality Shows

I’m going to let Dan Savage speak on this one, because he nailed it a couple years back:

Sometimes the mail is sooooooooo depressing that I just want to think about other things.

Like Next. Last weekend I was stuck in a hotel room in Portland, Oregon, on account of a teensy, weensy hangover, and I caught a marathon of the MTV dating show. Here’s how the show works: One person—say, a boy—goes on a blind date with a girl. If the boy doesn’t like the girl, he says “Next!” and one of four other girls, all waiting on a bus, takes the first girl’s place. The rejected girl returns to the bus to be cruelly mocked by her rivals. The boy continues barking “Next!” until he finds a girl he likes. Sometimes there are five boys on the bus and a girl barks “Next!”, and every once in a while five gay boys are on the bus and another gay boy barks “Next!”

While the gay episodes demonstrate to MTV’s impressionable viewers that young gay people are really no different—they’re every bit as shallow, vapid, and crude as their straight counterparts—not one of the gay episodes really worked. Instead of anxiously waiting to see which of the five will be chosen, viewers of the gay installments of Next anxiously wait for the five boys on the bus to strip down and get it on. The gay boys on the Next bus aren’t rivals, MTV, they’re all potential matches, which makes the one guy who isn’t on the bus nearly irrelevant. In all three of the gay episodes I saw, the boys on the bus were more into each other than they were into the boy for whose affections they were supposedly competing; in gay Next, the boy who “won” a second date with the boy-who-wasn’t-on-the-bus declined, preferring to run off with one of the other guys on the bus.

Recreating the “five bitchy rivals” dynamic that makes the hetero episodes of Next so entertaining wouldn’t be that hard, MTV. Here’s all you need to do: Put five hairy bears on the bus that are only attracted to pretty twinks, and let them compete for the, er, hand of one pretty twink. Or five white guys that are only into Asian guys competing for an Asian guy. Or five tops and one bottom. Or five Log Cabin Republicans and one CPA. Take a little more care with the casting and preinterviews, MTV, and you’ll be able to solve Next’s gay problem. You’re welcome.

Dan Savage, July 5, 2006

MTV, Tila…why are we acting surprised when some of the non-butch, lipstick lesbians (who are attracted to other, non-butch, lipstick lesbians) start hooking up? You knew that was going to happen. And you’re on a reality show – which means you know at least half those people are lying about their motives/background/sexual orientation just to get on TV.

Snitching Clusterfuck

I personally can’t stand those fucking “Stop Snitching” tee shirts. Every time I see one, I have to forcibly restrain myself from lunging at the wearer and choking them out on the metro. However, while watching Domenico and Ashley screw over Brandi, Rebecca, and Steve, I was overcome with the urge to grab one of those shirts and add the phrase “on yourself.” Seriously, yo! It’s the oldest trick in the book. Domenico said nothing, and Steve snitched on himself. Brandi said nothing and Rebecca snitched on herself. If this was a scripted program, we could have at least got a laugh track. Or a “dun-dun-DUN!”

The Ellen Factor?

Everyone loves Dani. Seriously. From my friends to the commenters on the message boards, it seems like most of the support is behind Dani. According to societal standards, we should not be cheering on the futch as she is outside of society’s prescribed roles for lesbians. She isn’t porno ready. There are other girls who are using their T & A a lot more and accomplishing a lot less. So what is it about Dani? Why is she just so damn likeable?

“She kind of reminds me of Ellen DeGeneres,” commented my boyfriend during the last show.

It was as if someone hit me over the head with a squeaky hammer. She IS like Ellen. Is that why we like her? Has Ellen DeGeneres become the archetype for the acceptable butch? Is Ellen the original futch? Hopefully, someone a bit better versed in queer politics and theory can school me in the comments section… Continue reading

Link Love: POC in SF Carnival – International Blog Against Racism Week

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

Occasionally, even the most dedicated activist has days when they just want to say…fuck it. I don’t want to tackle these problems anymore. I don’t want to think about this anymore. I was rapidly approaching that point this week. Exploring the many facets of gentrification, researching Tila Tequila, reading more reports of racism, and reading the denials of racism that come from so many in the mainstream media (and the anonymous posters on message boards) was taking its toll on me.

And then – like a little ray of sunshine – I found the International Blog Against Racism Week. (Thanks Willow!)

The rationale for participating in this carnival is listed on the website, written by blog host Oyceter:

International Blog Against Racism Week (IBARW) originated in an email discussion among coffeeandink, liviapenn, minnow1212, rachelmanija, rilina and me, but for me, the origins go back to the Great Cultural Appropriation Debate of DOOM. The debate started from a Wiscon 30 panel, but it was the aftermath on LJ that made me stop and think about racism for the first time. More specifically, it was after I requested the conversation to stay on white appropriation of POC culture just in the comments to that post and got comment after comment protesting the exclusion of white culture. My later post on racism in Pirates of the Caribbean 2 was another eye-opener, with comments ranging from “white people are stereotyped too” to “you are being paranoid!”

As you may have noticed from the above, I came into anti-racism late after struggling for years with wanting to be “the good Chinese girl” who blended in and didn’t rock the boat, who took it upon herself to make other people comfortable, no matter how she felt.

All six of us were still finding our feet with anti-racism when we began to email each other. We then tossed around a few ideas, some being a community we could post to, or all of us posting something on our LJs. We debated a lot about tone and how to present things; most of us were afraid of alienating people by being “too angry.” In the end, we decided to do something meme-like that would be on all our LJs at the same time out of practicality: if six of us were blogging at the same time, there would be a much smaller chance of one person getting bombed with 100+ nasty comments (I have to admit, this was my main concern, having been the person whose LJ had just exploded).

I particularly like this carnival because there is a very thoughtful discussion of why they chose to blog against racism, what they hope to uncover, and the criticisms they have encountered. Continue reading

A Shot at Love – Second Recap

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

Show Number Two! I grabbed my now addicted boyfriend and settled in to see what happened in this episode…

After the dramatic reveal, the lesbians feel betrayed and the men are apprehensive. Men make more comments about the women’s general hotness and the women act uncomfortable. There is some discussion of forming an alliance.

Three of the men start to fight. While the crew members break it up, the lesbians loudly proclaim their anti-violence stance. [Because, obviously, women are peaceful and loving when compared to the barbaric warriors with penises.] During the fight, Rebecca swoops in for the kill, comforting a flustered Tila who expresses surprise at all the drama surrounding her “Surprise, I’m bi!” speech.

[Captain Obvious asks: Why were we not prepared to have drama after coming out in a surprise twist on a televised reality show?]

While all the drama is going down, the hyphy-iest lesbian on the show decided she had enough. She expresses a revulsion men in general (and uses the word icky.) Apparently skeeved out by all the men joining the party, Lala left the show.

Interesting perspectives from Alex on homosexual women. He seems to be fairly rational about what is going on – I wonder how long that will last.

There was also a small attempt made at gender parity. Tila had the girls catwalk in the first episode…but had the men catwalk in heels during this episode. It was campy and cute, but once again presented as farce. Real men don’t walk in heels, silly viewers! Domencio – who had a fabulous comment around homophobia in episode one – also seems to be the most adept at walking in high heels. This was noted by Tila, and not in a good way… Continue reading

A Shot at…Diversity? Tila Tequila and Reality TV

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

I’m no girl next door…I’m the bitch down the street.—Tila Tequila

tila tequila a shot at loveI was not going to do this review series. I hardly ever watch TV. I am not as well versed in queer issues as some of the other writers on this site. And in my heart of hearts, I am endlessly amused by the antics of Tila Tequila so I can’t really muster up any righteous indignation. (Wendi can though – if you missed it, check out No Tequila for me, Thanks to get a more critical look at Tila’s persona.)

Still, I decided to tune in to Tila Tequila’s ultra hyped new reality show “A Shot At Love with Tila Tequila.”

Whoa…this actually reflects some form of reality

Watching the guys and girls parade around, lobbying for the attention of Ms. Tequila, I have to wonder – who did the casting? This is one of the most racially diverse casts I have seen on reality TV. Three black girls? Multiple people who look like they are checking a few different boxes on the census? Obviously, someone in the casting department got the memo that hot people come in all colors. I also wonder how much influence Tila had over the casting. No Asian men, unfortunately. But is Eddie Middle Eastern? And is Rami part Desi? Inquiring minds want to know…

A Quick Thought on the Sex Wars

So far, the men are coming off pretty bad. They seem pretty vapid and one-dimensional…as if many of them missed the casting call for “I Love New York” and ended up on this show. Personal gimmicks were heavily used. There’s a verbal pissing match between two guys with grating accents.

Tila places a lot of emphasis on how then men act typical, and the show is edited to highlight that. None of the guys comes off as caring or engaging. After episode one, I’m kind of bored with them and I don’t remember enough to tell them apart. The socially awkward guy was cute, trying to be cool and spilling his drink. And then there is that guy who is a virgin, which is interesting. The guys with the accents stand out…but isn’t that kind of a given? One guy sounds like Mr. Garrison from South Park. (Since when is it Ms. Garrison?) Here’s to hoping the men actually get personalities in episode two.


While there were a lot of questionable scenes playing to the sexual tension in Tila Tequila’s reality show (i.e. why did the women cat walk in skimpy outfits for their first challenge, while the guys got to just sit around; Tila being comfortable kissing multiple women, but not multiple men; the various sexy Tila shots), by the far the weirdest moment was when contestant Greg broke out the Kama Sutra kit. Sensually rubbing oil on Tila’s neck, he takes the opportunity to slide down her top when she asks him to do her arms. Six other contestants look on during the massage, apparently titillated. Continue reading

Moving Gaming Forward: Having Meaningful Conversations About Social Issues

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson, originally published at Cerise Magazine

Watching some of the carnage unfold in the blogosphere conflicts surrounding the released trailer of Resident Evil 5, one thought kept echoing in my mind:

This conversation is going nowhere.

A few members of the gaming community, while pondering a very valid point about the issue of racism in gaming, inadvertently raised the hackles of developers and designers alike when taking on one of gaming’s best loved franchises.

Jason over at Microscopiq ended up with 365 comments on his dissection of the released RE5 trailer, where he asserts:

After all, in RE4, you spend the game shooting equally out-of-their-mind Spaniards. But, then, the Spanish haven’t been so egregiously misrepresented as blacks through the ages, have they? Not even close.

From Birth of a Nation to Black Hawk Down, black folk are apparently responsible for some of the most mindless and evil activities you got. Rape, murder, satanic voodoo. With bulging eyes, simian super strength, and a room temperature IQ, we’ve been portrayed as savages beyond redemption. So, when we see images like these, it doesn’t just resonate with the long lived zombie genre, it also triggers memories of so many awful stereotypes — and what those stereotypes have been used to justify past and present. Put down the crazed negroes before they take the white women! And so on…

But perhaps the most troubling part is that these scenes seem to be set in Africa; the “dark continent.” With all the positive steps being taken of late to raise awareness of the good things happening in Africa as well as the urgent need in some parts of the continent, we really can’t afford this kind of step back. We need to find ways to humanize Africans, not dehumanize them.

Valid points, but they still raised the ire of some gamers, who wrote things like:

Resident Evil 1 – white people are zombies
Resident Evil 2 – white people are zombies
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis – white people are zombies
Resident Evil Code: Veronica – white people are zombies
Resident Evil Survivor – white people are zombies
Resident Evil Gaiden – white people are zombies
Resident Evil: Survivor 2 Code: Veronica – white people are zombies
Resident Evil Zero – white people are zombies
Resident Evil: Dead Aim – white people are zombies
Resident Evil Outbreak – white people are zombies
Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 – white people are zombies
Resident Evil 4 – white people are zombies
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles – white people are zombies Continue reading

The Gentrification Shuffle

Gentrification: The displacement of poor women and people of color. The raising of rents and eradification of a single, poor and working-class women from neighborhoods once considered unsavory by people who didn’t live there. The demolition of housing projects. A money-driven process in which landowners and developers push people (in this case, many of them single mothers) out of their homes without thinking about where they will go. Gentrification is a premeditated process in which an imaginary bleach is poured onto a community and the only remaining color left in that community is white… Only the strongest coloreds survived.—Taigi Smith, “What Happens When Your Hood is the Last Stop on the White Flight Express?” from the anthology Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism.

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

Last year, the Washington Post published a series of articles about the H street corridor in downtown DC. The article detailed the thoughts and opinions of the historical residents, who had seen H street through riots and a depressed economy, and spoke with the new residents who had moved to H street after the city slated the area for economic revival.

What interested me more than the article was the surrounding chat about gentrification, proctored through one of the Washington Post’s “live online” sessions. The discussion quickly dissolved into an argument about the events at a local bar, where some new residents picked up some of the sidewalk chalk sitting in a decorative basket and began drawing on the tables.

The black proprietor objected to them using the chalk. The white party at the table asked why they couldn’t draw with the chalk, since you generally use chalk to draw. The proprietor responded, saying you shouldn’t draw on a place where people eat – no one wants a bite of chalk dust.

This is where the story gets a bit blurry. The white kids assert that the proprietor became shrill, telling them that they didn’t belong in her neighborhood. The proprietor states that the white kids became hostile, saying she should be lucky that they were spending money in her “ghetto” neighborhood.

The article and chat discussion epitomize the delicate dance we do around gentrification. Class divisions and race divisions tend to pop up, turning neighbor against neighbor. Revitalization of an area isn’t always bad – many people enjoy living in luxury condos, having shops within walking distance, and having a nicer, cleaner, and safer neighborhood. Gentrification, however, is revitalization in a different stripe. While revitalization seeks to improve a blighted or run-down area, gentrification aims to attract people with higher incomes to live in the community.

And unfortunately, the people with higher incomes tend to be white. While affluent professionals of all races participate in the gentrification of historically ethnic enclaves, the introduction of whites to a predominantly POC area seems to herald the coming of a gentrification effort. Continue reading

Will Smith: Flip-Flop Wearing, Alcoholic, White-Woman Chasing Superhero?

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

A bit late on this one, but MTV news has recently reported on Will Smith’s newest project:

You might be up on the latest action-movie news regarding “Iron Man,” “Justice League of America” and “Watchmen,” but have you heard about that other superhero? The alcoholic, homeless guy in the flip-flops? If not, it might be time to put Will Smith’s postmodern comic flick on your radar, because it could be on the verge of creating another “John Hancock” revolution.

“We’re halfway through it right now,” explained director Peter Berg this week, giving us some exclusive details on the film. “Will Smith plays an alcoholic, suicidal superhero [whose actions are] destroying the city of Los Angeles, and he’s trying to rehabilitate his image.”

The article then allows Jason Bateman to explain the movie from his perspective:

“Will plays a down-and-out superhero — a drunk, homeless superhero that the [public] doesn’t like because he’s so drunk that when he solves crime, he creates a lot of collateral damage,” Bateman explained of the movie, which has been dangling Smith on wires 50 feet over L.A. streets. “Early in the film he saves my life, and I say to pay him back I’ll revamp his image for him because I’m in corporate PR. We’re well into that, and I’m buying him a cape and telling him how to do news conferences and all that crap — and then he falls for my wife, Charlize Theron.”

My eyebrow raised at that point. The fallen superhero concept is provocative in itself, outside of any other plot point. A black superhero? More interesting. An alcoholic, homeless, black superohero with a white female love interest? Oh snap…

I am really interested to see how they will pull this one off, considering Hollywood’s history with having a black male lead and a white female lead. (See Roberts, Julia and Washington, Denzel – and for a little easter egg, check out Allison Samuels’ book Off The Record. Julia Roberts’ take on Denzel and Hollywood was priceless.) Continue reading

Movie Review: What Black Men Think

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

If you take nothing else from this review, remember this:

That often-touted statistic that there are more black men in jail than in college? That’s a myth.

In the documentary What Black Men Think, director Janks Morton takes a sledgehammer to the falsehoods and misconceptions that are used to describe and categorize black men. Using expert opinions and cold hard facts, Morton tackles popular perceptions and assumptions that plague black men to this day. (Racialicious has mentioned the film before, here and here.)

Assumptions include:

– There are more black men in jail than there are in college
– The crack epidemic and the resulting violence in the black community
– Black Men on the DL and the AIDS crisis
– “I can’t find a black man because they all want white women.”
– Black Men don’t pay child support.

The trailer for the film addresses some of these statistics directly.

The documentary shines by using a very clear methodology to debunk some of the most deeply ingrained myths about African-American males, combining Matrix-style public announcements with expert commentary and factual analysis. The experts cited in the film came from all walks of life and all ends of the political spectrum. Discussion and commentary were provided by John McWhorter, Armstrong Williams, Juan Williams, Clenard Childress Jr., Michael Steele, Mychal Massie, Jessie Lee Peterson, Steve Perry, Shelby Steele, Alvin Poussaint, Earl Ofari Hutchinson and Darryl James.

Check out what they have to say:

[Note on the experts: some people – self included – were a bit shocked to see some of the experts on the panel. My boyfriend in particular was extra salty about the inclusion of Shelby Steele and John McWhorter. “What do they know about being black?” he fumed. I shared some of his sentiments, as some of the people cited in the film seem to have had issues with embracing black issues, or have challenged their own black heritage. However, in viewing the film, I was pleased to see that politics was left by the wayside this time. The discussion focused on black masculinity in all forms, and all of the gentlemen included on the panel were able to discuss their ideas and experiences without the sensationalism that normally marks their public statements. Continue reading