Category Archives: Open Thread

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Open Thread: Shonda Rhimes says ‘A Hashtag Is Not Helping’

By Arturo R. García

Considering that at least part of her success has been buoyed by Twitter, Scandal showrunner Shonda Rhimes’ apparent views on Twitter seem somewhat dismissive.

During her commencement address at Dartmouth University, Rhimes encouraged students to “pay it forward” with their education, including this bit of advice:

Find a cause you love. It’s OK to pick just one. You are going to need to spend a lot of time out in the real world trying to figure out how to stop feeling like a lost loser, so one cause is good. Devote some time every week to it.

Oh. And while we are discussing this, let me say a thing. A hashtag is not helping. #yesallwomen #takebackthenight #notallmen #bringbackourgirls #StopPretendingHashtagsAreTheSameAsDoingSomething

Hashtags are very pretty on Twitter. I love them. I will hashtag myself into next week. But a hashtag is not a movement. A hashtag does not make you Dr. King. A hashtag does not change anything. It’s a hashtag. It’s you, sitting on your butt, typing on your computer and then going back to binge-watching your favorite show. I do it all the time. For me, it’s Game of Thrones.

Volunteer some hours. Focus on something outside yourself. Devote a slice of your energies towards making the world suck less every week. Some people suggest doing this will increase your sense of well-being. Some say it’s good karma. I say that it will allow you to remember that, whether you are a legacy or the first in your family to go to college, the air you are breathing right now is rare air. Appreciate it. Don’t be an as*hole.

Rhimes is incorrect on at least one of these examples: Take Back The Night did not begin as a hashtag. That particular campaign against domestic violence can be traced back to the 1970s, and has always included in-person vigils and marches. So for her to say it is just a hashtag doesn’t square at all with reality.

But it’s also fair to point out that a href=”http://time.com/114043/yesallwomen-hashtag-santa-barbara-shooting/” target=”_blank”>#YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen emerged as vital conversation points in the wake of the shooting and stabbing attacks in Isla Vista, California. They also served as points of connection for people who might not be willing to open up in a “public” setting, allowing them to share their stories as they saw fit. That doesn’t make them “Dr. King,” but the idea of online safe spaces shouldn’t be treated as invalid, either.

Likewise, #BringBackOurGirls did the same for the mass kidnappings perpetrated by Boko Haram in Nigeria, and the pressure upon the government to respond.

So in those instances, it can be argued that the tags did help, because they alerted people to the problems at hand in ways that larger media outlets were not able or willing to do. And in the case of #BringBackOurGirls in particular, the tag was a visible part of the first demonstrations associated with it in Nigeria, let alone the ones that followed around the world. In other words, seeing the tag led people to do just what Rhimes is calling for.

Moreover, what if a person has no outlets — or at least, no safe ones — within their communities? What if a person is not physically or emotionally able to put themselves in the middle of events that are typically crowded, loud and, in a worst-case scenario, potentially dangerous?

Lastly, it cannot be forgotten that Scandal, in particular, has not only survived, but thrived in part thanks to being able to generate such heated online conversation and live-tweeting. As Think Progress reported last year, data has emerged showing that people “sitting on their butt” can have quantifiable — and thus, money-making — influence on a show:

Specifically, the study found that for 18-34 year olds, an 8.5% increase in Twitter volume corresponds to a 1% increase in TV ratings for premiere episodes, and a 4.2% increase in Twitter volume corresponds with a 1% increase in ratings for midseason episodes. Additionally, a 14.0% increase in Twitter volume is associated with a 1% increase in TV program ratings for 35-49 year olds, reflecting a stronger relationship between Twitter and TV for younger audiences.

Further, the study found that the correlation between Tweets and TV ratings strengthens for midseason episodes for both age groups. An increase in Twitter volume of 4.2% and 8.4% is associated with a 1% increase in ratings for 18-34 year olds and 35-49 year olds, respectively. Moreover, by midseason Twitter was responsible for more of the variance in ratings for 18-34 year olds than advertising spend.

So what do you think, Racializens? Was Rhimes off-base?

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Open Thread: Scandal 3.12, ‘We Do Not Touch the First Ladies’

By Arturo R. García

Olivia (Kerry Washington) and Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) face yet another re-definition of their relationship.

This week’s episode was best served when it strayed from the usual tropes. Sure, we got Olivia and Fitz arguing (again) about the rules of their relationship, and starting the episode with them in flagante pugna about her deciding to “date” Jake — with him outside the door — at least made it a more interesting take on the Fight Of The Week.

But it wasn’t until Jake, and then Mellie, and then Huck, began questioning Olivia that the episode scored the most. SPOILERS UNDER THE CUT.
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Open Thread: The 2014 Academy Awards

By Arturo R. García

Best Supporting Actress Winner Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years A Slave”)

Well, that was a lot to take in. Some of the highlights:

  • Maybe the night’s sentimental favorite, Lupita Nyong’o, won the Best Supporting Actress award for her work on 12 Years A Slave, which went on to win Best Picture.
  • John Ridley also won Best Adapted Script for his work on 12 Years, though … was it us, or was there some shade going between him and director Steve McQueen?
  • Robert Lopez, a Filipino-American, won Best Original Song along with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez for “Let It Go,” from Frozen.
  • Mexican-born Alfonso Cuarón, who some felt was snubbed for the Best Director award after Children of Men, made good Sunday and won for Gravity. 
  • Cis-hetero actor Jared Leto won Best Supporting Actor for playing a trans woman in Dallas Buyers Club, and seemed to omit mentioning the trans community during his far-flung acceptance speech. As Autostraddle notes, it’s not like he can claim ignorance of his actions at this point.

Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments and check out the full storify below, but under the cut, some video, and some more observations from the evening.

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Open Thread: Scandal 3.11, ‘Ride, Sally, Ride’

By Arturo R. García

Our own Kendra James will have a proper review Monday morning, but we figured we’d get the ball rolling and gather your first thoughts on the Scandal spring premiere. SPOILERS UNDER THE CUT

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Open Thread: Adrian Broadway

By Arturo R. García

Coming on the heels of the seemingly unfathomable not guilty verdict for Kenneth Dunn on murder charges for shooting and killing Jordan Davis, the news that another young person of color, 15-year-old Adrian Broadway, was shot and killed — seemingly for egging a car — was a gut punch on top of another to start the week.

But this time, the suspect is also a person of color: 48-year-old Willie Noble, who allegedly ran out of his house as Broadway and her friends were driving away, after smearing the vehicle as part of what was described as an ongoing prank battle, and shot into their car. She died shortly afterwards at a local hospital.

Noble has already been taken into custody and is being held on $1 million bond. He is charged with first-degree murder, one count of terroristic acts, and five counts of aggravated assault.

As KARK-TV reported, Broadway’s school, McClellan High School, prepared to resume classes this morning with the benefit of extra counseling staff for her classmates. Some of them have begun making other preparations in her honor:

Broadway was a freshman cheerleader. The squad gathered Monday night for dinner and to talk as they grieve through this process together.

While the school plans on welcoming students back Tuesday, Friday is Homecoming. Adrian was on the freshman homecoming court. The school plans on setting out one empty chair with a black sash and rose in honor of Adrian.

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Friday Fundraiser Open Thread

We got a pretty good response last week, so with today being Valentine’s Day, let’s try and share some more of the love.

As we stated before, the goal here is to help each other find projects that could a financial boost. We’re looking for stuff of the Indiegogo/Kickstarter variety: academic, artistic, literary, musical, cinematic, etc.

So tell us: What’s out there that needs our support?

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Open Thread: The Presentation of Michael Sam

By Arturo R. García

After getting scooped by Sports Illustrated when Jason Collins announced he was gay last year, ESPN maneuvered itself into being perhaps the most visible outlet for Missouri University star Michael Sam’s own public coming-out over the weekend. But even if the network appears to be going all-in with the story, there’s some interesting pockets of silence around him thus far.

For starters, it should be noted that the announcement was not made on the network’s flagship football show, NFL Countdown. Instead, ESPN’s critically-lauded newsmagazine, Outside The Lines, broke the story along with the New York Times and Outsports. OTL specializes in big-picture, human interest stories (it recently reported [trigger warning] on the university’s apparent mishandling of a swimmer’s mental health and sexual assault) and Chris Connolly did ably cover at least some of the immediate questions surrounding the road ahead for Sam.

But it’s been nearly two days since Sam’s announcement, and we haven’t heard from Countdown host Chris Berman or his lieutenant of sorts, senior analyst Tom Jackson. The only member of the Countdown cast who has been featured in ESPN’s coverage as of Tuesday evening is correspondent Chris Mortensen.

Meanwhile, SI reported that Sam’s announcement is already cause for concern among league administrators.

“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” said an NFL player personnel assistant. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”

All the NFL personnel members interviewed believed that Sam’s announcement will cause him to drop in the draft. He was projected between the third and seventh rounds prior to the announcement. The question is: How far will he fall?

“I just know with this going on this is going to drop him down,” said a veteran NFL scout. “There’s no question about it. It’s human nature. Do you want to be the team to quote-unquote ‘break that barrier?’”

And the thing is, Sam is as close to an “ideal candidate” for this moment in history as you can ask for: He was co-Defensive Player of the Year in the ultra-competitive Southeastern Conference, for a team that finished in the Top 10 nationally, and was projected to be picked in the third or fourth round of the draft. So for Sam not to get picked would be really suspicious, to say the least.

But what do you think about the Michael Sam story thus far?

[Top Image via Michael Sam Facebook page.]

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Open Thread: Fundraiser Spotlight

From time to time, you’ve seen us shine the spotlight on fundraisers for various projects. Now, it’s your turn.

The rules are simple: In the comments, drop us a link and a quick description for a project you think merits backing; it can be related to academia, art, literature, music, moviemaking — anything artistic, in other words. The idea is to get as many eyes on as many endeavors as possible, and hopefully as much help, as well.

Everyone, the floor is yours.