bell hooks, where we stand: Class Matters, chapter 4 (via elucipher)
I wanted my first-year film students to understand what happens to a story when actual human beings inhabit your characters, and the way they can inspire storytelling. And I wanted to teach them how to look at headshots and what you might be able to tell from a headshot. So for the past few years I’ve done a small experiment with them.Some troubling shit always occurs.
It works like this: I bring in my giant file of head shots, which include actors of all races, sizes, shapes, ages, and experience levels. Each student picks a head shot from the stack and gets a few minutes to sit with the person’s face and then make up a little story about them.
Namely, for white men, they have no trouble coming up with an entire history, job, role, genre, time, place, and costume. They will often identify him without prompting as “the main character.” The only exception? “He would play the gay guy.” For white women, they mostly do not come up with a job (even though it was specifically asked for), and they will identify her by her relationships. “She would play the mom/wife/love interest/best friend.” I’ve heard “She would play the slut” or “She would play the hot girl.” A lot more than once.
For nonwhite men, it can be equally depressing. “He’s in a buddy cop movie, but he’s not the main guy, he’s the partner.” “He’d play a terrorist.” “He’d play a drug dealer.” “A thug.” “A hustler.” “Homeless guy.” One Asian actor was promoted to “villain.”
For nonwhite women (grab onto something sturdy, like a big glass of strong liquor), sometimes they are “lucky” enough to be classified as the girlfriend/love interest/mom, but I have also heard things like “Well, she’d be in a romantic comedy, but as the friend, you know?” “Maid.” “Prostitute.” “Drug addict.”
I should point out that the responses are similar whether the group is all or mostly-white or extremely racially mixed, and all the groups I’ve tried this with have been about equally balanced between men and women, though individual responses vary. Women do a little better with women, and people of color do a little better with people of color, but female students sometimes forget to come up with a job for female actors and black male students sometimes tell the class that their black male actor wouldn’t be the main guy.
Once the students have made their pitches, we interrogate their opinions. “You seem really sure that he’s not the main character – why? What made you automatically say that?” “You said she was a mom. Was she born a mom, or did she maybe do something else with her life before her magic womb opened up and gave her an identity? Who is she as a person?” In the case of the “thug“, it turns out that the student was just reading off his film resume. This brilliant African American actor who regularly brings houses down doing Shakespeare on the stage and more than once made me weep at the beauty and subtlety of his performances, had a list of film credits that just said “Thug #4.” “Gang member.” “Muscle.” Because that’s the film work he can get. Because it puts food on his table.
So, the first time I did this exercise, I didn’t know that it would turn into a lesson on racism, sexism, and every other kind of -ism. I thought it was just about casting. But now I know that casting is never just about casting, and this day is a real teachable opportunity. Because if we do this right, we get to the really awkward silence, where the (now mortified) students try to sink into their chairs. Because, hey, most of them are proud Obama voters! They have been raised by feminist moms! They don’t want to be or see themselves as being racist or sexist. But their own racism and sexism is running amok in the room, and it’s awkward.
This for every time someone criticizes how characters of color and female characters of color especially are treated in text and by subsequent fandoms. It’s never “just a television/movie/book”. It’s never been ”just”.
“…and by subsequent fandoms." <— bless this addition.
This one is always worth reblogging.
When I say, “Representation matters,” it’s not just the presence of PoC, women, PwD, LGBTQIA, in narrative, it’s the roles are those characters are occupying.
The hall of mirrors that is the interplay between fiction and real life becomes a negative feedback loop with real consequences, because we internalize things and then we act them out.
Storytelling is a powerful thing. What stories are we telling, and why?
I wrote this on a friend’s thread on Facebook. I was tired of hearing a lot of bizarre, uninformed nonsense about what health insurance is and is not, and I thought it might be helpful to just break it down to facts. The post got passed around a little bit and so I was encouraged to share it here. The moral of the story is probably “don’t encourage me”. Or “don’t let other people’s stupid Facebook friends get you mad.”
Here’s how employer-sponsored health care works.
Your employer gets a volume group discount on health insurance.
You WORK for your employer. Your health insurance package is PART OF YOUR COMPENSATION FOR YOUR WORK. It is not FREE. You are, explicitly, WORKING FOR IT.
Your employer does not discuss, with your doctor, what treatments you are given for any medical condition or circumstance you might encounter. Your employer has no right to your medical records. Your employer is NOT your health care provider.
Part of your compensation for work is actual money. Your employer has no rights over what you choose to do with your money. The same applies to the health insurance which you have WORKED in order to EARN. It is not free. It is not a gift. It is compensation for work. I’m saying that more than once because it seems to be a super difficult thing for some of the geniuses to understand.
Reproductive care is medical health care. All methods of contraception are legal. Abortion is legal. You have a right to legal health care. There is no moral or legal difference between reproductive health care and other forms of health care. Like all health care, it is a confidential matter between yourself and your doctor.
Anyone who pretends they are a “conservative”, but believes an employer has the right to interfere between doctor/patient privilege is — at best — someone who doesn’t understand conservative values of non-interference in personal lives. At worst, you’re just a fucking hypocrite who is deeply concerned about other people’s lives and choices.
Health insurance is not “free abortions” or “free contraception” or “government anything.” It is compensation. For work.
And it is, seriously, none of your fucking business what a woman and her doctor decide for her health care.
Period. Fucking. End.
You can pretend your objection is about whatever you want to pretend it’s about, but it’s pretty obvious you’re just a puritan asshole who’s afraid of ladies having the minimum control over their lives that you take for granted. If that’s you, my wish for you is that your employer is a Christian Scientist, and you get appendicitis.
They threw his mother to the wolves. He grew up a human among wolves and a wolf among humans. Contempt feeds his pride. Lack of love infuses him with hatred. Scorned by all, Straba scorns them all in turn. He sneers at the elders and disgraces the sacred ancestral sites. He will not bow before men or gods. He’s free like a wolf, like an animal in the woods, but he still has a human heart, and that heart is full of sorrow. Sorrow…
Joe Haldeman (via maxkirin)
Just choked on my fucking drink
I know nothing.