Category Archives: xenophobia

Frank Miller’s “300″ and the Persistence of Accepted Racism

by Guest Contributor Jehanzeb Dar, originally published at Broken Mystic

When Frank Miller’s “300″ film was released, I was absolutely outraged by the racist content of the film and more so at the insensitivity of movie-goers who simply argued “it’s just a movie.” Later on, I would hear these same individuals say, “The movie makes you want to slice up some Persians.” I wrote an article about the film almost immediately after it was released, and now that I’m still noticing people quoting the movie or listing it as their “favorite movies,” I’ve decided to update my original post and discuss some points that will hopefully shed some new light.

“300” not only represents the ever-growing trend of accepted racism towards Middle-Easterners in mainstream media and society, but also the reinforcement of Samuel P. Huntington’s overly clichéd, yet persisting, theory of “The Clash of Civilizations,” which proposes that cultural and religious differences are the primary sources for war and conflict rather than political, ideological, and/or economic differences. The fact that “300” grossed nearly $500 million worldwide in the box office may not be enough to suggest that movie-goers share the film’s racist and jingoistic views, but it is enough to indicate how successful such a film can be without many people noticing its relentless racist content. As Osagie K. Obasogie wrote in a brilliant critique of the film, “300” is “arguably the most racially charged film since D. W. Griffith’s ‘The Birth of a Nation’” – the latter being a 1915 silent film that celebrated the Ku Klux Klan’s rise to defend the South against liberated African-Americans. Oddly enough, both films were immensely successful despite protests and charges of racism.

Media imagery is very important to study. Without analyzing and critiquing images in pop culture, especially controversial and reoccurring images, we are ignoring the most powerful medium in which people receive their information from. A novel, for example, may appeal to a large demographic, but a film appeals to a much wider audience not only because of recent video-sharing websites and other internet advancements, but also because the information is so much easier to process and absorb.

According to the Cultivation Theory, a social theory developed by George Gerbner and Larry Gross, television is the most powerful storyteller in culture – it repeats the myths, ideologies, and facts and patterns of standardized roles and behaviors that define social order. Music videos, for example, cultivate a pattern of images that establish socialized norms about gender. In a typical western music video, you may see female singers like Brittany Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Beyonce wearing the scantiest of clothing and dancing in erotic and provocative ways that merely cater to their heterosexual male audiences. These images of women appear so frequently and repetitively that they develop an expectation for women in the music industry, i.e. in order to be successful, a woman needs to have a certain body type, fit society’s ideal for beauty, and dance half-nakedly. Stereotypical images of men in music videos, on the other hand, include violent-related imagery, “pimping” with multiple women, and showing off luxury. Such images make violence and promiscuous sexual behavior “cool” and more acceptable for males. As we can see from two studies by Greeson & Williams (1986) and Kalof (1999), exposure to stereotypical images of gender and sexual content in music videos increase older adolescents’ acceptance of non-marital sexual behavior and interpersonal violence.

Cognitive Social Learning Theory is another social theory which posits, in respect to media, that television presents us with attractive and relatable models for us to shape our experiences from. In other words, a person may learn particular behaviors and knowledge through observing the images displayed on television. A person may also emulate the behavior of a particular character in a film or television show, especially if a close-identification is established between the viewer and the character. Both theories – Cultivation Theory and Cognitive Social Learning Theory – apply in my following analysis of “300.”

In order to deconstruct “300,” I will start by (1) discussing its distortion of history, then (2) contrast the film’s representation of Persians and Spartans, (3) correlate Frank Miller’s Islamophobic remarks on NPR with the messages conveyed in “300,” and (4) conclude with the importance of confronting stereotypical images in mainstream media and acknowledging the contributions of all societies and civilizations. Continue reading

Unmarried nonwhite woman’s crapload of babies not considered “little gifts from God”

by Guest Contributor Kenny Darter, originally published at Hate on Me

“What color is she?”

White ladies have a bunch of kids and get TV shows. A Hispanic woman pumps out eight babies and gets scorn – and maybe a few high-profile interviews.

California woman Nadya Suleman birthed octuplets late last month after having six kids earlier this decade – all through in vitro fertilization. Having 14 kids isn’t the soundest family planning – throw diaper subsidies into the stimulus package, Barack! – but we’ve seen this before, and we’ve seen a celebration, not a simultaneous national gag reflex.

The 2003 remake, “Cheaper by the Dozen” and its 2005 sequel track the craziness and hilarity of a couple with 12 quirky, good-looking kids. Audiences saw that it was tough managing a small army of mouths to feed, but in the end, it’s all just really quite funny and heart warming.

“John & Kate Plus Eight” on TLC has tracked the trials of the Gosselin family as they manage their eight little offspring. They somehow manage, and viewers send money. Continue reading

When Xenophobia Meets Homophobia

by Guest Contributor Marisol LeBrón, originally published at NACLA and Post Pomo Nuyorican Homo

An ugly blame game ensued after the passing of California’s Proposition 8, which restricted the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman. With exit polls reporting 70 percent of Blacks and 53 percent of Latinos/as supporting the ban on gay marriage, many white members of the LGBT community blamed people of color for the ban’s success.

The December issue of gay news magazine The Advocate stepped into the fray. The cover of the issue provocatively announced, “Gay is the New Black.” Although the cover story’s author, Michael Joseph Gross, dismissed blaming Black voters as a “false conclusion” and a “terrible mistake,” comments posted to the site took him to task for other reasons. Most comments strongly disagreed with Gross’ Black/gay comparison, but many others asked why communities of color and queer communities are still considered mutually exclusive in the mainstream LGBT rights movement.

A comment posted by “Greg J,” pointedly charged, “Gays of color, transgender, and yes, even lesbians are missing from the larger discourse of the gay rights struggle – primarily the gay marriage issue. The gay right’s movement was and remains the ‘gay, white, middle class’ movement!”

The Prop 8 fallout shows how much work remains to be done to connect the LGBT rights movement with other struggles for social justice across a spectrum of issues. Unfortunately, it may have taken the brutal murder of Ecuadoran immigrant Jose Oswaldo Sucuzhañay to highlight the invisibility of queer people of color – particularly queer immigrants – in LGBT rights discourse. His murder will hopefully provide an impetus for coalition building.

Jose Sucuzhañay and his brother Romel were attending a Sunday evening church party on December 7, 2008. They later decided to end the night with some drinks at a local bar in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. The two brothers left the bar at 3:30 a.m. and walked home arm-in-arm to support each other. Three men drove up to the Sucuzhañay brothers, one man got out of the car and began to shout anti-gay and anti-Latino slurs at them. Continue reading

Damn You, Sleeping Chinese

by Guest Contributor Jen, originally published at Disgrasian

One thing I did not get for my birthday yesterday was sleep. Despite having a pasta-tasting menu for dinner (five buttery pasta courses = sleep, right?), I found myself awake at 5 a.m.–again–drinking scotch out of my new birthday tumbler (I got two, one for me, one for Diana), catching up on my interwebz, commiserating with our friend Edana on Facebook, who was also awake and asking all of the pertinent questions one has at that twisted hour (namely, what’s wrong with us and why has alcohol failed us), and cursing this dull, repetitive, unceasing misfortune of mine.

So the last thing I wanted to see this morning was a website devoted to sleeping Chinese people. Because it’s like, How dare you. But the truth is, watching people sleep is fascinating, particularly when they’re not actually beside you in bed, taunting you with their sleepfulness. And the pictures are all taken of people asleep in public places, which suggests that these sad sacks probably have more in common with someone like me than I would think.

You’d think that the website’s premise would be kind of offensive, like sleeping Chinese people are no different than animals at the zoo, especially since the photos are taken by some German dude living in China, but the idea endeared itself to me after I read the photographer’s welcoming statement:

    “They talk about ‘The Sleeping Giant’. About ‘The Birth of the New Super Power’ or ‘The Awakening of the Red Dragon’. Often with a strange kind of undertone, which is supposed to frighten us. The reality definitely looks more peaceful.”

Fighting Chinysteria one picture at a time? That’s one thing, at least, that’ll help me sleep better at night.

To go to sleepingchinese.com, click here.

Who is Afraid of Sanctuary Cities?

by Latoya Peterson

Reader Kheng sent in this video, currently being aired in California. Kheng writes:

I am watching TV and I come across this commercial. It made me sick to my stomach. I don’t know if you want to feature it on the blog, but I found it quite offensive and I am surprised it even aired.

After checking out the video, I can see what she means:

Text:


Californians are a compassionate people.

Our sanctuary cities defy state laws, so we can protect illegal aliens – even though they are named in 95% of outstanding homicide warrants in L.A.

Even though they are wanted in up to two-thirds of fugitive felony arrest warrants. Illegal alien gang members get back on the street because our cops can’t ask immigration status.

Have sanctuary cities taken our compassion too far?

Share your opinion at Capsweb.org.

Paid for by Californians for Population Stabilization.

I know y’all loved the standard issue Latino gang member (complete with red bandanna and mustache) and promises of property crime. They even made sure to show they were not being racist – they used a picture of a black cop! (But, on second glance, that cop looks kind of blatino…maybe the LAPD is on the side of the illegals!)

Okay, all joking aside, I’ve been seeing this “illegals are murders” meme popping up a few different places now. So let’s focus on the statistics that are cited in the video. Are the numbers cited true? Continue reading