Category Archives: fandom

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Who-mogeneous: If Doctor Who Doesn’t Diversify, Will It Last Another 50 Years?

By Guest Contributor Anoosh Jorjorian

When I was 13 years old, my best friend introduced me to Doctor Who. Growing up as a brown girl in a predominantly white neighborhood in Sacramento, people would ask me, “What are you?” When I explained that my family came from Armenia and the Philippines, I might as well have said they were, like the Doctor, from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. The show played perfectly to my fantasies of escape into wider possibilities. Yes, funny smart man with your English accent, please whisk me away in your blue box as far in space and time as I can get from 1980s Northern California.

Nearly two decades have passed since I first watched the show, but on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, to my eyes, the show looked a bit… like 1980s Northern California. “The Day of the Doctor,” the episode marking the special occasion, was simulcast globally in 94 countries, an official Guinness World Record. So why was so little of the world in it? I had expected the diversity of the audience to be reflected on the screen, but instead the episode seemed Anglo in every dimension.

I monitored #DoctorWho50th on Twitter but couldn’t find many people of color livetweeting the simulcast. The few that did seemed to have “the feels” like everyone else. No one mentioned race. With Matt Smith’s tenure in the title role ending on Wednesday, I turned to Facebook to find more Whovians: friends, friends-of-friends, and strangers, mostly Americans, mostly people of color. What did they think about the whitewashed “Day of the Doctor”?

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Can Gareth Edwards Build A Global Godzilla?

By Arturo R. García

The release of the trailer for the latest Godzilla release spawned a pretty good discussion over at The Mary Sue Wednesday, including this critique from a fan:

It’s too early to tell just how “global” this new Godzilla is, but it would be really nice if it acknowledged that the death of human beings is universal and is no more or less tragic by virtue of location, nationality or ethnic background. I don’t see that happening for the promotional campaign, because the people who make trailers and commercials are frequently different from the actual filmmakers, and tend to be somewhat problematic at the best of times – so I don’t see them doing anything different from the norm.

Because the sad fact is that lots of people are going to look on the deaths of non-Western non-white people in films, even outright disasters, as they do for real life: as sad or upsetting, but not *quite* as upsetting as if it happened to “their” people – even if it takes place in a western city with an ethnic majority. It isn’t cinema’s job to challenge those preconceptions, but cinema is in a strong position to make a difference. Would it really be such a problem for a film to make the “bold” statement that the death of thousands of non-Westerners is just as tragic as the death of thousands of Westerners? Would that really constitute “reverse”-racism? Is that infringing on white people’s representation in the media?

The first trailer doesn’t give us a lot to go on on that score. And even if the film’s IMDB cast list counts at least six people of color involved, what we see here is mostly focused on white characters (starting with the nameless white soldier who jumps into near-certain doom at the beginning). But the only POC featured, Ken Watanabe, will likely be playing a key character in Godzilla canon — Dr. Daisuke Serizawa, the man behind the invention that killed the original Godzilla in the monster’s 1954 eponymous debut.

But a piece of the synopsis has me, at least, hopeful that this film won’t just aspire to be a “reimagined version” of the character’s first appearance, and will show better judgment in picking which parts of Godzilla canon to explore.

SPOILERS UNDER THE CUT
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Undo Process: The Racialicious Review For Doctor Who: The Day Of The Doctor

By Arturo R. García

The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith, left) and the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) find themselves confronted by their past in “The Day Of The Doctor.”

On Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary, Steven Moffat decided to give the Doctor a birthday gift. But as with all things Moffat, it comes with strings attached.

SPOILERY-WOILERY UNDER THE CUT. And since enough of us here watch the show (often despite itself), call this a weekend special.
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An Open Letter to Mike Babchik: I Am Not For Sale

By Guest Contributor Diana Pho, cross-posted from Hyphen Magazine

TRIGGER WARNING FOR THIS POST

Photo of Mike Babchik and ‘Man Banter’ crew at NY Comic Con. Credit: Bethany Maddock

Dear Mr. Mike Babchik of Man Banter,

You thought you were having fun last month at New York Comic Con when you and your film crew gained access to the convention using your job credentials at SiriusXM Radio. You thought this would be a great opportunity to provide footage for your YouTube show (now defunct, thankfully). You thought it would make great television to pull me aside, to put your mic in my face, to drive your camera’s light in my eyes and to ask if you could buy me.

You thought it was just a joke when you said you wanted to buy an umbrella with an Asian girl — because I was holding a parasol.

You thought you were being clever by mistaking me for a geisha girl, like the many submissive, diminutive women you’ve seen on TV or on the Internet or in movies.

You thought that because I was small and female and Asian, it gave you the right to ridicule my existence.

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Race + Comics: On Ms. Marvel And Protecting Young Superheroes

By Arturo R. García

There’s a lot to root for in Marvel’s new Ms. Marvel series, which is already garnering buzz for starring a Pakistani-American Muslim teenager in her own solo series.

But, the book won’t formally launch until February 2014, which opens it up to a recurring problem with Marvel: history shows that the company’s efforts stop at gathering that buzz when it comes to its young superheroes — particularly those of color.
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Race + Gaming: Brown Skin, White Masks

By Guest Contributor David Song

A gallery of Dungeons & Dragons character types from the D&D Player’s Handbook (2003).

The phrase, “human race,” has always taken on different meanings in Dungeons & Dragons. I can remember, when I read my first D&D Player’s Handbook as an ungainly and imaginative teenager, the allure of the game that remains the same across the whole role-playing hobby: To imagine myself as a fictional character that I have created myself. The D&D Player’s Handbook guides every role-player through a step-by-step process of creating an imaginary character. And I remember being fascinated by the variety in every step of that process: Class, alignment, skillset, religion, and coming before all of them, race.

The most eminent franchise of role-playing games, and the one most tied to popular perceptions of the hobby, D&D has always had an odd relationship with race — or rather, with a concept of race, one where race has strict boundaries and inherent qualities. The choice of role-playing D&D is to play a member of the “human race,” which stands as the norm in the D&D universe, or one of diverse alternatives: dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-orcs, and so on. Not Englishmen, Frenchmen, or fantasy versions of ethnic identities, but either human beings or other people with similar but fundamentally different blood. “Race” is the very first characteristic D&D asks its players to define, before their characters’ skills, their personalities, whether they are barbarians or rogues or sorcerers.

While the earliest version of the game’s Player’s Handbook displayed only light-skinned characters, implying a medieval, quasi-European setting, 1989’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons allowed players to create Human characters who could be light-skinned or dark-skinned, their hair straight or curly, their bodies wide or slender. In other words, it avoided the tacit identification of “human beings” with “white people.” The art in the game’s 2008 handbook reflects a diversity of colors and bodies that might belong to anyone actually playing the game, beyond the image of the white male.

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Help 18 Million Rising Stop Sirius XM’s Con Creeper

By Arturo R. García

Sirius FM “producer” Mike Babchik. Image via 18 Million Rising.

Michael Babchik seems to be content to represent the dregs of the Internet. And Sirius XM seems to be content not to discuss that. But the 18 Million Rising campaign isn’t going to let them get away with it.

Babchik first brought attention to himself at this year’s New York Comic-Con, during which he and the crew of one of his projects, “Man Banter” — one of those programs for the highly-coveted Nice Guys of OkCupid demographic — were accredited as press for the event and used that access to conduct “interviews” with women on the con floor. Including Friend of The R Diana M. Pho (aka Ay-leen The Peacemaker).

Here’s an excerpt of that encounter, as shared by Dianaon Tumblr, with Babchik at that point only identified as The Creepy Interviewer

TCI: Are you a geisha?
Me: No.
TCI: Can I be a geisha?
(Warning bell two)
Me. No, you can’t.
TCI: Why not?
Me: Because you lack certain things, like style, tact, grace—
TCI: Ah, but do I smell?
Me: Well, I dunno, I’e only stood next to you for about 20 seconds, so I can’t tell if you do or not. But however—
TCI: Well in my experience, girls who stand next to me longer than 20 seconds get a cream pie.
(silence)
Me: I would give you a slap in the face.

Diana reported the incident, and in a welcome show of solidarity, many other attendees boosted the signal, so much so that Banchik was identified, removed from the event and banned forever. According to con leadership, Babchik and his crew were “very careful to stress to all involved the Sirius was not involved in any way.”

But as it turns out, while Sirius XM did not send “Man Banter” to the convention, Babchik still works for the company, for something called Mad Dog Sports Radio. However, when 18 Million Rising members have attempted to ask about this on Sirius’ Facebook page, the company has seen fit to delete their comments.

The message is clear: Sirius would rather not draw attention to the fact that one of its employees likes to go to public events and harass women, despite that person seemingly using his association with the company to scam his way into press accreditation. 18 Million Rising has an online petition calling for Babchik’s ouster from his position, which as of Monday morning has reached 81 percent of its goal of 2,000 signatures. Activities like his are a smear on broadcasting on top of a safety hazard for women in public spaces, and Sirius should find a modicum of shame in recognizing that.

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.