Tag Archives: social equality

An Annoyed Rant (Put the Warning Right There in the Title for You)

Kyle Davies, Paramount’s domestic distribution chief, had this to say about Ghost in the Shell, which white-washed its lead role and failed at the box office: “You’ve got a movie that is very important to the fanboys since it’s based on a Japanese anime movie. So you’re always trying to thread that needle between honoring the source material and [making] a movie for a mass audience.”

This quote is everything that is wrong with the people (mostly white guys,) running Hollywood. 1) First off, calling the fans of this long-running franchise “fanboys” — this reflects the demographically incorrect belief that the fans for SFF and in particular for Japanese manga/anime are mainly young white males, and that those white males are interested in the material only for the sexy babes, so you have to have a sexy actress. In actuality, the majority of western fans for manga and much of anime tend to be young women and female teens and have been for over twenty years. There is a huge number of Asians and non-whites in the West who are big anime fans. And white male fans are actually usually more interested in the action sequences, noir violence and special effects than they are in sexy women. Paramount literally had no idea who their audiences was, in the East or the West. They cared nothing for the source material that was giving them that audience. They engaged in rampant sexism on a feminist-positive franchise, and it helped tanked their film.

2) The belief that the source material — Japanese Asian anime/manga — could not have “mass appeal” in the West if fully honored. Anime/manga has been huge in the West, a mainstream phenomena particularly with young people for well over thirty years. Some of the biggest global franchises, including merchandising and fashion, are from anime and manga. And yet, because most of it is created from East Asia, and because Hollywood is convinced the global and particularly U.S. audiences are rabid bigots, Hollywood continues to pretend, ignoring actual statistical numbers, that “Asian” material cannot sell unless you place a white, preferably American or American-sounding actor at the center.

Only with a white lead does Hollywood believe a film has “mass appeal.” It is a fairy tale based on the fact that working with a white actor, particularly a male one, boosts the social status of executives in the industry and their financial backers. It’s a drug they don’t easily give up, and instead blame the audience — the “masses” are bigots and must be cosseted to supposedly lower the risk. And yet, no matter how many flops this idea currently produces, they refuse to change the bigoted narrative. No matter how many movies do really well without white leads or white-washing, they refuse to change the bigoted narrative. It’s not about money, but fear of power shifts and an inability to believe that all white people don’t want only stories of whiteness, whatever the cultural source material, and a belief that non-white audiences are small and niche and unimportant. Because that’s the world they were taught and think should stay in place, even if it’s not real.

Dr. Strange from Marvel succeeded but benefited from only white-washing a supporting character and mainly from being part of the Marvel-Avengers franchise that places puzzle clues to the bigger overall story in each of its movies, encouraging people to keep up with all of them. But most big action movies don’t have those incentives. The Last Airbender, Gods of Egypt, etc. have not fared well.

Kyle Davies is a clueless, mediocre, incompetent white guy who if not for systemic institutionalized bigotry, would be out of a job for that quote alone. Throwing up one’s hands and murmuring that they were forced to make changes to white-wash is a lie. It’s always been a lie, and most of the time now, it’s going to fail. And that goes as well for the folks at Marvel who played the same game recently about their comic books. They’ve been strategic in their roll-outs, but individual films can still start failing if they don’t get a lot smarter.

This thinking is dinosaur thinking. It’s poor marketing and stagnated vision. If you are in any kind of industry, and you start spouting this same kind of drivel about mass or mainstream appeal of products, by which you mean supposed white people appeal, you’re wearing your prejudices on your sleeve and no amount of hand waving is going to spare you. So stop acting so surprised or pretending to be exasperated when you get angry push-back. We know what “mass appeal” means — and there’s nothing appealing to the masses in it.

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Filed under Movies/TV, Social Equality

Moving Things Around

In a very short bit of time, my blog, The Open Window, will be having a five year anniversary. This blog was an experiment for me, a lab in which I could try things out and figure out how I wanted to do certain things, in which I got to say some things I wanted to say, and bring attention to some books and artists I liked. There were periods of time that it was neglected, because life got in the way, mostly in a good way. I got a little better at using the formatting devices of Word Press. There were various decorating changes over the years. Now that I’ve entered a new phase of my life, I’m not entirely sure what this blog is going to turn into, but I am going to keep going with it and see.

As I was looking through the stuff I had backlogged from last year, one thing that was clear was that 2014 was a very busy year for issues of diversity, civil rights and social equality, in SFF and book publishing and in many areas outside of those things. And that stuff is important to me, to my family, I’m going to write about it, link to articles I find interesting. But, it’s not primarily what I want this particular blog to be focused on. And so I’m expanding the blog a little, in part to make things easier to find as I did with the Books to Read page. I’ve added a separate page called Social Equality.

I’m still going to do pieces on those subjects on the main page, like the Women in Film review, which will be coming shortly, but those pieces will also be copied on the Social Equality page. Other entries and collections of links to others’ writing on diversity and civil rights issues may be only on the Social Equality page, however, with a link to them on the main page. If you are following me mainly for my talking about those issues or to learn about interesting articles and stories on those issues, you’ll be able to just go to the Social Equality page if you want. (Older pieces on those subjects are available in the blog archives.) So it’s kind of three little blogs together, and I’ll see how that works for me. I may end up changing it; hey, I may get a website at some point. I really don’t know what’s going to happen this year. But we are well into our shiny new century millennium, and while the electricity is still on, we might as well keep talking.

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Filed under Blog Issues, Social Equality

Diversity Writings That Still Echo

Under a bit of a time crunch today, so I am offering up some links of writing I have found good and interesting on diversity and discrimination that came out earlier this year or previously.

People of color, women, and gays — who now have greater access to the centers of influence that ever before — are under pressure to be well-behaved when talking about their struggles. There is an expectation that we can talk about sins but no one must be identified as a sinner: newspapers love to describe words or deeds as “racially charged” even in those cases when it would be more honest to say “racist”; we agree that there is rampant misogyny, but misogynists are nowhere to be found; homophobia is a problem but no one is homophobic. One cumulative effect of this policed language is that when someone dares to point out something as obvious as white privilege, it is seen as unduly provocative. Marginalized voices in America have fewer and fewer avenues to speak plainly about what they suffer; the effect of this enforced civility is that those voices are falsified or blocked entirely from the discourse. — Teju Cole

Kelly Thompson, author, comics writer, and journalist, at the GoodComics blog did a seminal piece about diversity issues and sexism in the comics, for her column “She Has No Head,” entitled “No It’s Not Equal.” (Thompson just had her graphic novel The Girl Who Would Be King optioned for film.)

Foz Meadows did a blog post about exclusion of women as the default in female geekery.

A few months ago, journalist Jessica Valenti did a piece for the UK’s The Guardian about how the notion of a women’s confidence gap is a sham used to justify and continue excluding women from the fields of endeavor.

Liz Bourke did a piece last year for Tor.com that I find particularly relevant these days too, entitled “Sleeping with Monsters.”

The definitive overview on cover whitewashing from TheBookSmugglers.com — definitely one of the biggest problems facing fiction publishing, especially YA, and SFFH publishing.

Saeed Jones at Buzzfeed.com takes an illuminating survey of things that women writers are sick of hearing in interviews and events.

Owen Lloyd explains why the main arguments of the men’s rights movement are mainly false.

Macy Sto Domingo at ThoughtCatalog.com looks at white privilege based communication blocks.

At Salon.com, Soraya Chemaly tackles the sexual harassment of insisting women smile.

 

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Filed under book publishing, Life, Social Equality, Women

Links & Misc. — Spring Cleaning! — Part 3

Diversity & Ending Discrimination:

Because I can, ha ha! There are just a lot of these saved up, from various craziness that’s occurred in the last several months, and many folks have been writing interesting things. So I’m presenting the links all at once.

At Salon.com, Sara Eckel presents actual evidence that “Feminism Isn’t Ruining Your Love Life.”

Jim C. Hines deconstructed this bizarre rant from Larry Correia back in January. It is even more relevant now with Correia’s Hugo voting fun times. Correia attempts to accuse a writer at Tor.com who was encouraging other SFF writers to think outside the box regarding binary gender in their stories of actually demanding as a commandment that all should get rid of cisgender characters. Hines looks at each of Correia’s assumptions, misinterpretations, and misdirections.

The always interesting super fan Michi Trota explains the extent and damage of discrimination in geekdom in “No One Can Deny You Entry to Geekdom, but Some Can Make It Really Hard to Get Through the Door First.”

Astra Taylor looks at misogyny and inequality built into the Web and how we deal with the gender gaps.

Amanda Marcotte in an editorial at The Raw Story looks at “What Are Misogynist Geeks So Afraid Of.”

Comics maven Janelle Asselin talks about meeting this sort of misogyny firsthand when she dared to criticize a poorly done comics cover, and received rape and death threats.

Jonathan McIntosh writes about the difficulties in the gaming world with “Playing with Privilege: The Invisible Benefits of Gaming While Male.”

The Korra Is Not Tan blog does a nice little rundown of racism and sexism regarding attitudes towards superheroes.

Mark Chu-Carroll at Goodmath.org talks about misogyny in “The Horror, the Horror, How Dare We Discriminate Against Men by Listening to Women.”

Katherine Lampe talks about helping out her guy friends dealing with discrimination issues in “What’s a Good Guy to Do.”

An older piece from two years back that was brought to my attention — Dr. Sheila Addison expands on John Scalzi’s famous piece about privilege, “The Lowest Difficulty Setting.”

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates tackles recent racism controversies concerning Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling in “This Town Needs A Better Class of Racist.”

PZ Myers, regarding the recent Hugo voting slate discussions, talks about how “But Silence is Political.”

Foz Meadows also tackles the subject for Huffington Post in her highly intelligent way, in “Politics Belong in Science Fiction.”

Daniel Jose Older writes at Buzzfeed.com what is perhaps one of the best pieces on discrimination and diversity I’ve seen in awhile, in “Diversity Is Not Enough.”

Most recently, Violet Baudelaire at Jezebel gives a really excellent explanation of what the term “privilege” means in an open letter to the idiot young white boy who calls himself the Princeton Kid. (But really, it isn’t his youth that’s the issue — we get this at all ages.)

And lastly, a very moving video in which the artist called Panti speaks after a play production about discrimination:

 

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Filed under Life, Social Equality, Women