Category Archives: reviews

Race & Racism in The Time Traveler’s Wife

By Guest Contributor Aliya; an earlier version of this post can be found at Sanctuary

(*I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum*)

ttw When I started reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, I was already aware that in the movie version of the book, Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams were cast to play Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire. So I was already aware that the two main characters were white, and I didn’t really bat an eye at it – most successful authors (particularly if their book is becoming a movie) choose white protagonists for whatever reasons (or without even considering other options).

But as I was reading, I started to notice a trend – in contrast to the white main characters, who were rich, musicians, lawyers, artists, etc – and versed in punk music as well as opera, and in German, French and English literature, the characters of color were either silent, strange, and/or did not speak English, but rather english, or slang/broken/obviously-second-language English.

Which annoyed me.

Don’t get me wrong; as an English Major, I fully enjoyed the book, and consider it possibly one of my favorites.  To deny the racism/lack of race in the “usual” favorites – Pride & Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities, Wuthering Heights, etc, or in the general canon of English Literature is a bit ridiculous – so I have come to accept that many books I love were born out of a time of racism, or have subtle or overt racism in them themselves…(Did you know Heathcliff might’ve been a person of color??)

But the fact that representation after representation of smart, intelligent, or ‘worthy’ characters in the Time Traveler’s Wife were white…troubled me. There are flaws to the white characters, but their “flaws” are human flaws – they somehow never struck me as weird, and they never took away from their roles in Henry’s life as saviors and friends, respectable and intelligent.

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District 9 is racist [Alternate Perspective]

By Guest Contributor Nicole Stamp, originally published at [pageslap]

distric 9

Saw District 9 tonight, the alien movie by Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson. I thought it was appallingly racist; here’s why. (Spoilers ahead.)

Basically, 20 years ago, a million crustacean-like space aliens arrived in Johannesberg. They’re forced to live in a horrible slum called District 9, and now the human citizens want them gone, so they’re about to be evicted from their slum and relocated to a concentration camp outside the city.

If you look at the film as an apartheid allegory, it has problems right off the bat. The aliens are loathsome, trash-eating vermin who fight endlessly, destroy property for no reason, and piss on their own homes, which isn’t a truthful or flattering allegorical comparison for actual black South Africans under apartheid. Apartheid is terrible because humans were denied rights. The “apartheid” of these aliens isn’t that terrible – it’s kind of justifiable, because they’re actually dangerous, violent and destructive. I think it would be a better allegory, and a more sophisticated movie, if the aliens weren’t unpleasant. If they were peaceful and kind, but the humans still demonized them, the film would be much more chilling; the horror would be “man’s inhumanity to lobster-man”, not “eew gross they eat pig heads!”

But to my knowledge, District 9 does not explicitly present itself as an apartheid allegory, and changing the nature of the aliens basically makes it a different movie, so I’m gonna give it a pass in this post (although I’m very open to hearing other people’s thoughts about the allegorical angle). I think the choice to make the aliens disgusting was mostly artistic license, designed to make the film’s tone and visuals more gritty and scary, rather than any attempt to actually be representative of black people oppressed by apartheid. So that wasn’t my problem with this film.

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Missing Identities: Racialicious Revisits Secret Identities

By Guest Contributor Sunny Kim

secret2 I first learned about Project Secret Identities over two years ago when a call for story submissions started to float around my corner of the interwebs. My excitement was limitless! No more waiting for some white guy to come save me! Now I could have my own superheroes. Secret Identities promised to fill the need for comics that cast us as the superheroes and I waited with bated breath for the release.

Here we are in 2009 and the book has been released to much fanfare. And yet, I feel disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I dig the nerd specs on the pleasing green cover (I rock my own pair everyday). There are some real gems in this anthology including the oft-cited “The Blue Scorpion and Chung” (Bruce Lee hated being Kato) and the true-to-life stories in the section From Headline to Hero (“Taking Back Troy” re-imagines Vincent Chin’s story in a way that doesn’t let us forget it). Despite the many great stories found within this anthology there are some glaring holes that I can’t seem to fly over.

The editors of the book tell us that Asian Americans have more in common with Clark Kent than just his geek chic appearance and as such present an opening for our superheroes. Yet the editors define Asian American by the stories they chose, and it seems like they define Asian as “East Asian with a sprinkling of Filipino and a drop of Indian.” In other words Secret Identities is more East Asian than Asian, and Shen and Yang have — I’m sure unintentionally — deleted most of the Asian continent in their selection process.

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