by Guest Contributor Quadmoniker, originally published at PostBourgie
So, I think everyone knows that I’m a big fan of the Sims. Though the third iteration of the game has had its problems, I still spend more money than I should adding on to it. Against my own better judgment, I just bought the most recent expansion pack. It created a whole new town, with new families already populating it.
The Sims has been pretty good about allowing for diversity. It’s easy to choose your own skin color and features, and because the characters speak their own made up language it’s not culturally specific.
They live in a suburban idyll, and weird classist things have troubled me in the past: there are “trailer parks” with characters uncomfortably close to white trash stereotypes. In the newest town, there is a black family with a single mom of two sons who has worked her way up by being a cook. She is overweight, and her bio talks about how hard it’s been to raise her boys on her own. Both the bios for the sons talk about how hard it’s been growing up without a father. I’d be willing to give it a pass if it didn’t involve every stereotype possible.
Ya’ll know I love HBO’s True Blood series like I love my mom’s dressing on Thanksgiving. But the show’s writing team clearly doesn’t know what to do with black folks. For a fictional town in Louisiana, Bon Temps is awfully monochromatic. Though, I guess Alan Ball and co. deserve some “props” for doing better than than the books on which the show is based. Author Charlaine Harris rarely paints a black person that isn’t a stereotype or a cipher. Ball gives us Lafayette (a minor character who dies at the end of book one in Harris’ story ) and Tara (white in the book, new black Tara is essentially a sassy, black sidekick). But even for a less than racially conscious show, the mini-episode above is some hot buttered bullshit.
The scene: Eric, the proprietor of the vamp nightclub Fangtasia, and his henchwoman, Pam. are holding open auditions for new dancers. We’re treated to a parade of stiff, gyrating and inappropriately-dressed yokels, and then Jezebel takes the state–or rather a walking representation of the stereotype. A black woman sans “draws” and bra, breasts peeking from the bottom of her crop top, tongue protruding, sneer fixed, gyrating and shaking ass aggressively, bending over to display her backside, all to a hip hop track.
Consider the portrayals of black women in the True Blood universe. We have Tara, a take no shit Sapphire, and a minor character–Kenya, a full-figured, stern cop. Now, in this very special mini-episode, we get a sexually aggressive video vixen. It seems that the writers of True Blood can only draw black women who are telling folks what’s what, dropping it like it’s hot or standing mutely by in service–how very original.
The other wanna-be dancers in the mini-episode are treated as obvious jokes. There is a fleshy man clad in gold booty shorts and one wearing a cowboy hat and little else. There is a metal chick and a wan-looking woman in a leotard and wrap one might wear to ballet class. None are dancers. They are rhythm-less, stiff and awkward, and that is the joke. It is ridiculous for them to think they might go-go dancers in a popular nightclub. The black woman is a dancer. The joke in her case seems to be simply that she is a black woman. Is there a joke if the dancer, instead of a scantily-clad black woman, is a suggestively gyrating Pamela Anderson type? Think about that and then hold that thought.
It is also interesting to note Eric and Pam’s reactions to the black dancer. Pam, who is a lesbian in Harris’ books and ambiguous in True Blood, is mildly aroused, but the tall, blond Viking, who has become female fan favorite, is unmoved. “Next!” It is okay for Pam to be intrigued by this black woman, but not our hero (or anti-hero, depending how you feel about Eric). In fact, moments later, in slinks a brunette, Russian-accented dancer is a micro-bikini top, tight, spandex pants, sky-high heels and a fur jacket. Her sexuality, though overt, is desirable. Eric and Pam fight over the opportunity to “audition” her alone. We never see her dance. We have no idea if she has any skill. But she is clearly the chosen one.
True Blood’s deft mix of humor and drama and action is one of the reasons I am such a fan of the show. This tired bit that relies on nothing but very old racial stereotype is beneath the show and certainly beneath the black women I know, who deserve a hell of a lot better.
This is the situation, as I understand it. For the past couple of days, fans of the Korean pop group 2PM were tweeting “#RT기 다릴게 박재범 기다릴게 2PM” (never mind what it means) to show love the group’s ousted Korean American leader Jaebum, who had been kicked out by his company for anti-Korean comments he made on his MySpace page a while back (which is a whole different drama, and not really relevant for this story).
Fans managed to make the 2PM tweet a pretty popular trending topic, which got a lot of people curious about what the hell the Korean phrase meant. Others, like rapper The Game, simply saw something foreign and “Oriental” and decided to mock it with an ignorant-ass tweet like this:
“#RT 기 다릴게 박재범 기다릴게 2PM dont kno what dis trendin topic is or means but I like shrimp fried rice alot & smokin makes my eyes tight so I RT’d it”
For some people, the sight of a weird Asian language will always simply equal Chinese takeout and chinky eyes. Thanks for showing the love, Game — for both shrimp fried rice and 2PM. Your blind idiot re-tweet just supported a South Korean pop group in a time of great distress for their fans. That’s real gangsta, and they thank you. (Thanks, Jisun.)
But as I read the Independent piece, “Chinese Concubines Return Thanks To Increasing Capitalism,” which cited one corrupt government official after another keeping mistresses and sometimes offering those women kickbacks, I began to wonder what the difference was between a concubine and a mistress. Was it only semantics? Or was there some kind of legal difference?
As it turns out, concubinage has always been differentiated from having a mistress because of its legal status. According to the Reference.com encyclopedia:
Concubines have limited rights of support from the man, and their offspring are publicly acknowledged as the man’s children, albeit of lower status than children born by the official wife or wives; these legal rights distinguish a concubine from a mistress.
Since having concubines has been illegal in China since the founding of the Republic in 1912, why are these modern-day Chinese mistresses being called “concubines”? Why is The Independent insisting that China’s bringing back this “feudal institution”?
Oh right. Because we’re talking about China. Exotic, mysterious, fetish-y, weird, sexually perverse China. Land of half-a-billion sideways vaginas. Got it.
by Guest Contributor Andrés Duque, originally published at Blabbeando
What’s up with the Spanish-language version of “Yahoo! Answers”?
As the moderator of a couple of online news lists on LGBT issues, I sometimes rely on Google Alerts to keep up with the latest news on the LGBT community. Once in a while the results will highlight links to some homophobic content on the internet, but that’s to be expected.
A few months back, though, I noticed one interesting trend: While LGBT-related questions to the “Yahoo! Answers” English-language service rarely popped-up and were inoffensive when they did, questions submitted to Spanish-language versions of the service (mainly to “Yahoo! Responde Mexico” & “Yahoo! Responde Spain“) showed up frequently. And, more often than not, they were also tinged with homophobic drivel.
So I geeked out and started keeping those Google Alerts last February. I probably missed a few, and there are probably a lot more questions submitted that were not captured by the Google bots, but I’ve posted the “Yahoo! Response” questions that came my way during that period of time (below I’ve included the original question in Spanish and provided a translation. I have also provided a link to the question if they are still on Yahoo!’s servers).
Obviously, there are some questions that might have been submitted from a lack of knowledge on LGBT issues rather than homophobic intent (questions about homosexuality and religion or whether gays are ‘born or made’), or those posed by people making sense of their sexual attractions (“How do I know I’m Gay?” “Does this make me a lesbian?”), or those that might be from people just joking around (“Is My Cat Gay?”).
Surprisingly, though, I’d say that roughly half the questions I collected seemed to have a specific homophobic intent which seemed rather high to me and, of those, only a few had been removed from the site after being posted. Continue reading →
by Guest Contributor Tanglad, originally published at Tanglad
Let me get this out of the way first. This is not a movie review. It is a review of movie reviews about Brillante Mendoza’s Kinatay. Spoilers follow, though the title pretty much tells you what you’re gonna get.
Last weekend, Filipino director Brillante Mendoza won the best director award at the Cannes Festival for the movie Kinatay (”Slaughtered“). Mendoza’s win was a surprise, considering how Kinatay is probably, as Prometheus Brown puts it, the most hated film at Cannes.
Newly married Peping, who attends the police academy, receives an offer via text message to make a fast buck with a shady friend. By nightfall, he is in a van with a group of vicious gangsters who have kidnapped a bar hostess to demand a loan repayment under orders from an elusive general…
The real time pacing, feels like being stuck in a traffic jam, but the dramatic thrust is relentless as one hears through the muffled darkness, the woman being gagged and beaten mercilessly. The horror escalates to rape, murder and dismemberment. None of this is left to the imagination, with the men’s verbal sexism being equally distasteful.
That was a positive review. (See here to view Kinatay excerpts, and here for a round-up of reviews and more background on the film.)
Roger Ebert’s review, charmingly titled “What were they thinking of?”, is typical of how critics who hated Kinatay approached the movie. There is hardly any discussion of the merits of the movie itself, and instead a whole lot of indignation over the unpleasantness that viewers were subjected to:
It is Mendoza’s conceit that it his Idea will make a statement, or evoke a sensation, or demonstrate something–if only he makes the rest of the film as unpleasant to the eyes, the ears, the mind and the story itself as possible…
No drama is developed. No story purpose is revealed…
By Guest Contributor G.D., originally posted at PostBourgie
Malcolm Gladwell has caught a lot of flak for his piece last week on how underdogs win, and perhaps rightly so. His central point, though — that the outgunned can have a fighting chance at success if they ditch convention and play to their strengths — is one worth considering, and given the resilience and tactics of the insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq, is a topical one, too.
But in making his point, he goes to some weird places. The framing device for this story is a not-particularly-talented eighth grade girl’s basketball team at Redwood City in the Silicon Valley. There are only two decent players on the squad, and their coach is a TIBCO software executive named Vivek Ranadivé, an Indian emigré who had never seen or played basketball before he arrived in the States. The upshot of that background is that he didn’t have any preconceived notions about the right way to play basketball. So instead of having his players run back on defense after a score or an opponent’s rebound and wait to be picked apart by more skilled players, he instituted the full-court press. His team proceeded to beat up on and frustrate teams with better players, and found themselves in the national championship game. Obviously, the press can make up big gaps in talent.*
But one of the things that raised the eyebrow of my blogmate and fellow sports junkie blackink was the problematic way the Redwood City Girls were described, versus the way their ‘talented’ opponents were characterized.