Tag Archives: television

The Evolution of Snow White

By Guest Contributors Paul and Renee, cross-posted from Fangs For The Fantasy

One of the newest trends we’re seeing in speculative fiction is the revisiting of fairy tales, especially in a modern setting–they’re almost a unique sub-genre of the Urban Fantasy and Fantasy genres.

And, in many ways, this is very important to do as fairy tales are some of the very first stories many of us are exposed to as children. Unfortunately, they’re also very old stories–and contain a lot of very old and sadly prevalent tropes that have stayed with us over the years. Generations of children have grown up with stories of helpless princesses, passively waiting for a handsome (and anonymous–after all, any man will do if he’s in the right place at the right time) prince to save them from abject peril. There is no question that this iconic image–repeated over and over in fairy tales, has had a profound effect on our culture, our society, and our view of gender roles, and there have been numerous excellent posts deconstructing the damaging messages of fairy tales.

There is no fairy tale that can be considered more centre stage than Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. An ancient tale, it rose to prominence when it became Disney’s first full-length animated movie and was forever cemented front and centre as not just a fairy tale–but the fairy tale. The ultimate tale of the protagonist–poor, helpless, sweet and oh-so-fair Snow White is attacked by her evil stepmother, while she helplessly sings to wildlife and eventually resides in a glass coffin to be rescued.

This is clearly an image that needs challenging–and, appropriately, Snow White is front and centre of the fairy tales that are being revised for the modern world. Between Once Upon A Time, Mirror Mirror, and Snow White and the Huntsman, we see a very different princess. The modern Snow White does not lay in glass coffins awaiting rescue. Her reaction is to attack, not to run away in fright, or maybe sing a little ditty to bluebirds. The modern Snow White kicks arse, she wields a sword, actively hunts down the Evil Queen, and she stands shoulder-to-shoulder with her Prince Charming.

One of the things that we love most about Once Upon a Time is that, while Mary Margaret may be the soggiest lettuce in town, Snow White is a highwaywoman, a fighter, and a swashbuckler–every bit Prince James’s equal. Snow White is no longer a prize to be claimed, no longer an object to be won, and no longer a passive element in what is supposed to be her own story. And if she needs rescuing, she is quite capable of rescuing herself, thank you very much.

This is both so very needed and very empowering. It’s powerful to not only create new stories that empower marginalised bodies, but re-examine these old tropes and challenge them in a way that not only sets a new paradigm but highlights how wrong the old paradigm was.

Continue reading

Mailbag – February 20, 2012

Arturo spotted some disturbing news from the K-pop world on Twitter: Jenny Hyun, songwriter for groups like SNSD and Chocolat, went on a long racist tirade about African Americans. According to Asian Junkie (which has the full tweet stream, but it’s a lot to deal with this early in the morning):

Yes, you read that correctly, she actually did call for the genocide of black people, which I don’t even know how to explain in words because it’s so fucking insane. Frighteningly, that’s only one of many out-of-this-world racist statements that she makes throughout the tirade. [...]

So what sparked this rant?

Floyd Mayweather‘s tweet about Jeremy Lin.

    Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.

So yeah, she suggested the genocide of black people because a fucking boxer who is black suggested that Jeremy Lin is getting hyped more because he’s Asian and not black.

What Floyd Mayweather said is wrong, and his dislike for Asians is well documented, going back to his racist rant against Manny Pacquiao. However, being racist back (and disturbingly so) certainly isn’t the answer.

We checked in with contributor refresh daemon, who pointed out that Hyun is actually Asian-American, from California – she knew damn well the impact of what she was saying. The internet has also dredged up Hyun’s own stated history of mental illness, which may have led to her public outburst. At some point, I’m going to finish that piece around cultural appropriation, j & k pop, and the violence of revulsion, but until then, Asian Junkies is having an interesting debate in their comments section.

Reader Wen sent in a tip on a public conversation on racism and Australian television. Two prominent stars took to television and twitter to speak out against tokenization, marginalization, and underrepresentation. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Firass Dirani, who stars in new ABC drama The Straits, yesterday told Fairfax that major networks did not create roles for people from a broad range of cultural backgrounds.

And that prompted New Zealand actor Jay Laga’aia, recently cut from the cast of long-running soap Home and Away, to rail against perceived racism in Australian television, making his rage known in three angry tweets that included an attack on Channel Seven.

Jay Laga’aia, who is known outside of Australia for his role as Captain Typho in the Star Wars franchise, aired his displeasure on Twitter:

Ah, if only.

Reader Caroline sent in a poem from Chastity Gunn about racial microaggressions:

What’s Behind “The South Asian Boom” On TV?

by Latoya Peterson

Mindy Kaling Office

Over at Slate, Nina Shen Rastogi points to the rise of South Asian characters on television. In an article titled “Beyond Apu: Why are there suddenly so many Indians on television?” Shen Rastogi examines the changing opportunities for South Asian actors:

Why are Indians suddenly the “it ethnicity,” as Ravi Patel put it to me?

This, too, is at least partially a function of changing demographics. More Indians in the fabric of American life means we’re more likely to be a source of inspiration for non-Indian writers, like the two Jewish guys from suburban New Jersey who wrote Harold and Kumar—the title characters are based on their friends. Reshma Shetty, who stars as Divya on USA’s hit dramedy Royal Pains, told me that her character was based on a Divya that creator Andrew Lenchewski grew up with on Long Island.

But according to Karen Narasaki, who heads the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, the rise in primetime Asians is also the result of advocacy. Her organization and its partners have been working with the networks to develop diversity initiatives for the past decade, ever since 1999′s infamously “whitewashed” primetime season, in which not a single freshman show had a leading minority character.

Narasaki’s group doesn’t track all the various Asian-American subgroups, so it’s hard to tell if Indians are rising in Hollywood at the expense of, say, Chinese and Koreans. But there are a few reasons why Indian actors might have more opportunities. America’s growing fascination with Bollywood—and relative ignorance of entertainment industries in other Asian countries—may be opening some doors. Narasaki notes that TV executives tend to have a mental barrier that prevents them from seeing Asians as “stars” who can carry shows. But “Hollywood is intrigued by Bollywood,” she says. It’s not so much that Los Angeles wants to start aping Bombay’s storytelling style, but when executives are thinking about diversifying their shows, the allure of Bollywood—and, more recently, the runaway success of Slumdog Millionaire—may mean that Indians seem more attractive than members of other Asian groups. Continue reading

Last Minute Links Before the New Year

by Latoya Peterson

Alright people, we are officially on vacation, starting now. Comment moderation will be spotty until January 4th, when we resume regular schedule. Until then, a couple things to mull over.

Nisha over at Politicoholic mentioned the Twitter based campaign to remember Gaza on December 27th.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the 22-day Israeli military raid on Gaza. Gaza, one of the two Palestinian territories currently under Israeli occupation.

I know Gaza is not a topic of polite cocktail party or happy hour conversation for most people. Most people probably aren’t quite aware of where Gaza is (here is a map for that), especially since it’s a tiny territory that’s only about 139 square miles on the coast of the Mediterranean.

So it is probably not widely known that one year ago, Israeli military forces killed 1,400 Palestinians, of which over 900 were civilians and over 300 were children. And considerable damage was done to Gazan roads, houses, and infrastructure — most of which has still not been repaired. [...]

Buoyed by the success of the Iran election activists, who tweeted their observations about the controversial Iranian election and subsequent protests using the hashtag #iranelection, and capured the world’s attention — now Palestinian activists are hoping to start a movement of their own using Twitter as their primary tool of communication.

Their hashtag is #gaza, and today, December 27, from 3 pm – 7 pm GMT, they are encouraging everyone they know to tweet using the hashtag #gaza in the hopes of making Gaza the #1 trending topic on Twitter — which is no easy feat, given the millions of people using Twitter everyday.

But that didn’t quite happen. Last night, Global Voices posted a report by Anton Issa, explaining how the campaign did not go as planned:

Twitter has been accused of attempting to silence tributes to Gaza one-year after an Israeli onslaught devastated the Palestinian enclave.

Pro-Palestinian and human rights activists used the influential Twitter portal to mark the one-year anniversary of the Gaza War, and express support for the besieged territory.

Tweets using the hashtag #Gaza flooded in on December 27th, peaking at number 3 on Twitter’s top ten Trending Topics list.

However, complaints emerged of users being briefly blocked from tweeting #Gaza, with the trend being forced downwards and off the Trending Topics.

Bloggers all over the world speculated about why this happened. According to Issa, some thought that it was Twitter editors suppressing the topic, others thought that pro-Zionist activists were reporting the tweets as spam, others thought it was due to Twitter’s algorithms balancing the discussions differently. However, it does shed some light on the issues with using New Media to organize – I’ll expand on this a little more in the New Year. Continue reading

Black Hulu: Creating a Home for Independent Black Video

by Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, originally published at Televisual

When new technologies emerge a host of new companies tend to sprout up. Tons of independent radio stations catering to diverse interests before 1970s-style deregulation. Digital technology brought dozens of new channels to television; that same technology fostered numerous production companies making independent TV and films. Now the drive to create original web video — a trend that dates back to the late 1990s, but has gained new steam with broadband and YouTube post-2006 — has attracted  new voices previously unheard. We have corporately produced web series, but also black web series and series made with virtually no budget at all.

Well, that’s great. But how do you distribute and promote all these shows and videos? Anyone can create a video, but if, like my YouTube videos, nobody sees them, then there isn’t much a point. Sure, decently endowed websites now fund and promote web shows. But what about black content, in many cases prone to smaller audiences?

Enter the sites pictured above. Entrepreneurs, keen to the problem of distribution, have created sites where folks looking for black content can go. Surprisingly it looks like all these sites are coming out around the same time — now.  As noted in my article in The Root, BET.com is just now getting into the market for original web shows; there’s been a lack of visibility from major black media companies. In my interviews I found numerous black producers didn’t know of the other black shows debuting online. Continue reading

Bobby Lee as John McCain

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

I really don’t know what to make of this. It’s crazy… but I like it! In a weird twist of racial casting, comedian Bobby Lee will play Senator John McCain on the season premiere of MADtv this Saturday night: Bobby Lee to Play McCain on MADtv.

I kid you not. The proof is in the picture. The segment, “So You Think You Can Dance: President’s Edition,” features Bobby and Arden Myrin as Cindy McCain and Keegan-Michael Key and Erica Ash as Barack and Michelle Obama.

I don’t think Bobby makes a very convincing McCain. More like a John McKang. But I honestly don’t care. I look at that photo, and I laugh. It’s such a weird image. Whiteface, I know. I know. But when was the last time the tables were turned?


UPDATE:
Oh snap. Here’s the video of Bobby Lee as John McCain in MADtv‘s “So You Think You Can Dance: President’s Edition” sketch. Not a very good impression of McCain, but does anyone really care?

Helloooooo, Cho!: Margaret Cho’s new reality show

by Special Correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie

I finally caught a rerun of The Cho Show, Margaret Cho’s VH1 reality sitcom-y show.

And I really enjoyed it. Not because I like Cho’s comedy. Not because she’s a woman of color on TV (one more for the team!). But because I can identify with her.

How can a twenty-something heterosexual Iranian-American identify with a thirty-something bisexual Korean-American? We’re both misfits.

Cho’s first episode revolves around her struggle with accepting an award from the KoreAm magazine for the Korean of the Year. She says herself that she’s felt a very cool reception from Koreans in the U.S. and feels at odds with the community because of past experiences. “They want me to perform, and they’re gonna hate me. I don’t play golf, and I’m not a good Korean that way,” Cho tells her parents about her nervousness regarding the award. She states that her biggest fear is “bombing in front of a room full of Koreans,” highlighting perhaps a desire to be accepted by her community for who she is at the same time that she expresses her anger over the lack of acceptance they’ve given her in the past. Continue reading

JabbaWockeez Wins America’s Best Dance Crew

by Guest Contributor Jenn Fang, originally published on Reappropriate

JabbaWockeez — a predominantly Asian American dance crew — won the title of America’s Best Dance Crew.

Here’s their routine from last week, “Evolution”.

[Ed Note: Jenn's original video was no longer available, so I went with this one - LDP]

I still preferred Kaba Modern’s style to Jabba’s, but I can’t deny Jabba’s skill. And there was something politically-conscious about Jabba’s use of masks, which seemed to lament the stereotype of the Asian American geek and demand the audience judge them on their dancing skills, and not on racist prejudgement based on their Asiatic features. This was underscored by Jabba’s final dance, when they started by discarding the masks to demonstrate that they were no longer necessary.

I’m thinking that Jabba’s victory definitely helps challenge the stereotype of Asian Americans as geeks, nerds and science-oriented. Jabba’s Asian American members were artists, who expressed themselves phenomenally through dance. Congratulations!