Link Lineup – November 2021

In November, I did a lot of content consumption. It was all incredibly interesting stuff! Any errors on my commentary under the pieces are because I did this via a dictation software across the month! 😀


Confronting the Questionable Legacy of ‘The Lord of the Rings’

Peter Jackson’s trilogy, while spectacular and ground-breaking in many ways, is glaringly white. Worse, the human villains are all coded as non-white; “bad men” from the East and the South, complete with either veils and kohl, or bearing tribal tattooing and scarification and riding mythical elephants. Worst of all, the inhuman Uruk Hai – muscled and merciless – have black skin and dreadlocks. While some of this British colonial racism and eugenicist thought are a reflection of the source material itself, Jackson made a – possibly thoughtless – choice to remain “faithful” to those parts of the text and even to exacerbate them. As a result, racist fans were not alienated by the films but accommodated, allowed to believe that their extremely racist interpretation of Tolkein’s work was the correct one. The film trilogy benefited from their racist support and everyone involved in it is therefore complicit in the abuse now raining down on series’ cast of colour (particularly the black cast, and more particularly the black women cast). The comments directed at Nomvete and Cruz Cordóva are not generic racism: they are rooted in the racist lore and imagery that Jackson’s films perpetuated. One of most frequent comments on Nomvete’s picture is “better be an Uruk Hai”.

I grew up on Lord of the rings and so growing up in the fandom, I realized very quickly that the negative aspect of Lord of the rings where people of color were absent from the narrative was a bonus for a large majority of the fandom. Unlike the Harry Potter fandom which would go on to racebend characters like Harry and Hermione, the Lord Of The Rings fandom never really took to racebending as a thing they could or even wanted to do. Instead, they seemed really happy to be faced with a version of Middle Earth where all the elves were white, and all of the men were too. The films, that I grew up with, were integral to building a fandom identity as an extremely online tween for many people in English language fandom who are my age at this point.

The problem is that when faced with updates to the franchise where characters might be of color who aren’t background characters or silent extras, the fandom doesn’t have a good reaction. Even before we see who all have been cast within the upcoming series that Amazon is doing, there is a history of Lord Of The Rings fans being upset at the concept of racebending even within their own communities. People who are fan artists or fanfic writers that choose to portray these characters using ethnic groups in our world, can expect to get really rude messages from diehard fans of the franchise. They’re subject to racism, even if they are not of color themselves, because they have chosen to “deviate” from Tolkien’s vision. And we’re told that these are all white men. We’re told that the Lord Of The Rings fans, like the Star Wars fans who raged at The Force Awakens and the sequel trilogy having people of color in relatively prominent roles, are all white men.

But that is not true and honestly, that’s why transformative fandom has a white supremacy problem that I don’t see any way to fix. Because people assume it’s all white men, so white women have nothing to do with any of it. Which leaves them to wallow in the mire of white supremacy in fandom and get worse. Anyway, I don’t know what Amazon will do with their Lord of the rings show or the fandom that builds from it, but I am frustrated that 20 years after the original massive trilogy came out from Peter Jackson, fandom still maintains that they don’t have a race problem even while being publicly and actively racist.

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Link Lineup – May 2021

Somehow this is both short (only like 5 links this month) and very long (because I had a lot to say about them), but I will return for a BTS + Butter focused one before the end of the month so there will be more links… and more thoughts on them!


Breaking the silence: Exploring the Austen family’s complex entanglements with slavery

If we are asked to determine whether the Austen family was pro-slavery or anti-slavery, then the best answer to that question is both. We can’t take up one half of the facts and ignore the other. We ought to continue to engage directly with these matters as they arise in her writings and to investigate them further in the cataclysmic times in which she wrote. To respond to today’s conversations about Austen and race with dead silence is to join the rest of the Bertram cousins. Scrutinizing the past in these ways ought to prompt a reckoning in fandoms and readerships, as well as better museum labels.

My friend Amanda-Rae Prescott wrote an article about Sanditon that was… not necessarily well received by the Totally Not Racist (But Actually Deeply Racist) Fandom Karens there.  I bring that up because the repeat complaints to her article claimed that she was playing the race card, trying to insert political correctness into everything, and that she was actually demanding historical inaccuracy from the future seasons of Sanditon. The thing about historical accuracy though, is that history is written first and foremost by the people who survived it.

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[Thread Collection] Revisionist Fandom History 2021

Still locked on main because being random racists’ hyperfocus remains distressing as hell, but if you’re already who already follows that Twitter account here’s the link to the thread. I also suggest reading these pieces on revisionist fandom history and the insistence that we as a unit be grateful to our beige fandom foremothers for… something.


Revisionist fandom history is so annoying because:

– it’s always people in their 20s and/or who’ve been in fandom for like nowhere near as long as EYE have lecturing people about how shitty the youth these days are (like being awful in fandom is new or exclusive to The Youth)

– it’s always very white fandom history UNLESS it’s someone tagging in like Japanese creators and/or appropriating the term fujoshi for their own ends (my feeling on the term is simply that if you’re not Japanese, you probably can’t ACTUALLY reclaim it. The end.)

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Link Lineup – March 2021

Getting to know Korean modern and contemporary art with RM

Until this point, we have mainly discussed paintings, but they are not the only works of art that embody Korean history and traditions. That is not to suggest that works that inherit from tradition are always excluded from the list of artistic genres, but no list would be complete without the ceramics of Kwon Dae-sup. RM, who uploaded a picture of himself with one of Kwon’s moon jars in his arms on his social media, admiringly referred to Kwon as a master of Korean aesthetics while viewing his work s at an exhibition. 

I have this absolutely irrational fear of museums that I will never address. As a result, I do a lot of my art-learning through art criticism and the flurry of coverage that comes whenever BTS’ RM goes to a new museum exhibit or purchases art (that he or the artist then posts about on social media). I’m super grateful for this piece by art critic Jangno Lee because it looks at the art RM has looked at and what he’s loved enough to purchase and then puts all that art into its contexts for a wider audience and reveals information on the techniques that many average fans who aren’t art nerds wouldn’t know. Now, I’m holding out for some uh… hip-hop focused content? Because I desperately need to know RM and Suga’s thoughts on M-net’s latest hip hop offerings and the general state of Korean hip hop… Just saying.

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A WFRLL TIMELINE: FOREGROUNDING HIP HOP HISTORY

Note: This timeline is an attempt on my and Jaeyoung’s parts to show a trajectory and some major moments for hip-hop that potentially put these cultures into conversation.

As a result, timeline does not cover every single event that happened across Black and Korean hip hop history. Otherwise, it’d be book-length and I would be a hot mess from having to wade through my sources even longer.

(Please let me know if you need or want a PDF copy of this timeline and source post!)


1974 – The birth of “hip hop” as a genre in the United States.

While the foundations of hip hop music were laid in 1972/1973, multiple sources claim that the genre didn’t take flight until 1974. Further sources claim that Keith “Cowboy” Wiggins (from Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five) actually came up with a name for the genre four years later in 1978

1978 – “Rap music” as a term coined in the United States

This source claims that in 1978, the music industry coins “rap music” and shifts from DJs towards MCs. However the etymology of the word “rap” and the African (and African American) tradition of rhythmic speech (often) alongside beats dates back way further and we have evidence of Black artists dating back to the Sixties performing a spoken word style that they called “rap”.

1978 – Afro-Korean singer Insooni debuts as part of the Hee Sisters in South Korea

Born in 1957 to a Korean mother and an African American GI, Insooni is a soulful diva that remains one of the most well-known performers in Korea. She’s a still-active singer who performed at the 2018 Winter Olympics. She’s important to mention at this point of the project because she’s also a household name and cultural icon within Korea now and a sign that Black people from Korea are known to the citizens.

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Letters to the Author – Afton Locke

Note that this Letter to the Author contains graphic descriptions of racism and racist violence (sexual and otherwise) as it relates to the reality of white supremacy in history and historical romances.


Dear Afton Locke,

I could write you about a bunch of things in your Oyster Harbor series. I could talk about your constant use of food terms to describe Black characters (“butterscotch” and “light mocha” stand out). I could complain about how your heroine in Cali’s Hurricane is a vodou practitioner and how it’s so mishandled. I could even point out that the plot in and of itself is supremely flawed and in no way as accurate as you think.

But you know what, everything pales in the face of the one main question that I’ve had for you since the moment I read anything of yours: What on Earth possessed you to write a series of historical interracial romance novels where (at least) two of your “heroes” belong to their local branch of the Klan?Read More »

I’m Done Being Patient: Agent Carter and the Bare, White Minimum

women in agent carter
Three of the four women who show up in Agent Carter season two/episode two and have dialogue.

I’m finally starting to grasp the idea that the writers and showrunners on Agent Carter view intersectional feminism as a great myth. I’m also clear on the fact that fandom feels the same way.

Last year, when Agent Carter came out in January, it was heralded as this fantastic show for women, womenhood, and feminism.

Except it’s not.

It can’t be.

Not when it lacks:

  • Women of color
  • Queer women
  • Disabled women
  • Trans women
  • Fat women

All women are not all represented in Agent Carter so why should all women support it? How are we supposed to respond to it as women who are diverse and who are not represented?Read More »

Fantastic Beasts & Invisible Diversity in the Harry Potter Series

fantastic-beasts-01_0_0

For a body of media that seems fixated on different avenues of oppression, the Harry Potter series is seriously lacking when it comes to actual diversity and oppression that doesn’t revolve around magical beings. Seriously, just about everything’s a metaphor for some form of oppression or some facet of a marginalized identity.

If you’re looking for allegories about human rights and racism shown through a lens of magical humans and magical species, cool. That’s what you’re getting.

If you’re actually looking for nuanced interpretations of how race, power, and privilege intersect and affect each other in a world of magic, maybe look somewhere else.

J. K. Rowling’s world isn’t going to be it.

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“A product of their time” – Observations on racist (but lauded) writers after Octopussy

Octopussy CoverYesterday I decided to use my last Audible credit on a collection of Ian Fleming short stories.

I’m working through Fleming’s original canon very slowly and when I saw that the audiobook for “Octopussy and The Living Daylights, and Other Stories” was read by Tom Hiddleston, I just had to have it. Tom Hiddleston reading James Bond seems like the perfect combination of my interests and I have been talking about how badly I wanted to see Hiddles in a Bond movie. I figured that this was the closest I’d get.

Here’s the thing though: as much as I have complained about the racism in the James Bond films, the books are much worse.

The audiobook does not help. In fact, hearing Tom Hiddleston narrate Fleming’s weird and clunky prose on top of the racism that the first story is rife with is pretty terrible.Read More »

Library Haul 11/02/2015

wpid-20151102_213136.jpgYesterday was my second attempt at getting the books I need for my story. I actually got a lot of good books for research day part two and a couple of books that are just for fun.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that my story will be superficially similar to Crimson Peak because it’s basically the thing I’m obsessed with. And I liked the feel of the film so much– gosh.

My planned pair of siblings (The Darlings) are messed up in different ways though and my heroine is a woman of color who is immediately suspicious of the duo.

What’s been fun is that in this early part of the planning stage it’s still something I can talk about with my nieces so we’ve been talking a bit about racism and we’re brainstorming monsters and what makes people monstrous. Normally, I can’t really involve them in the writing process because they’re still so little, but since I haven’t actually decided what I’m doing with the plot and I don’t have to skip over any sexual stuff just yet, we’ve been having a blast!

I’m having a ton of fun with research and taking down notes. I can’t wait to sit down and do more of the actual writing.

Now if you’re here, you’re here for the book info so let’s get into that!


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Library Haul 10/27/2015

Library haul 10-27.jpg

This time, my library haul is kind of focused on one thing: research!

I’m looking at Gothic Romance/Horror and trying to put my own spin on it. The story I’m working on is focused on a young biracial woman (daughter to a West Indian mother and a white American lawyer who doesn’t acknowledge her paternity) whose new husband isn’t anything like she expects.

I wanted to look at subverting genre tropes and adding some much-needed diversity to the genre and I felt like setting the story in New Orleans in that narrow period where “marriage across the color lines” was legal before 1900 would be a great idea. (I also wanted to write about vampires but I’m not sure I’m doing that in the first place because I just remembered that werewolves are my secret loves.)

But I know nothing about New Orleans so it was time for RESEARCH!Read More »

[Rant] Do you even know what the Confederate flag represents?

wpid-imag4289.jpgYesterday my friend and I saw a guy with a big old pickup truck and a pretty large Confederate flag — so of course we took a picture. Not to name and shame, mind you but to remember that there are people all over that are really weirdly passionate about the flag and what they think it stands for.

—–

I’m fascinated by people who argue that the Confederate flag represents their culture or what America should be or “Southern Pride/Heritage”.

Are they even aware of the basics about what that flag means?

For once, let’s not even talk about race (although I could school you so hard on states’ rights and slavery that you’d get a degree out of it). Let’s talk about the very simple fact that people who supported the confederacy and brandished that flag were traitors to the United States. They seceded from the union and fought against the country, developing their own terrible government in the process.

At the heart of it, the confederate flag is a flag of traitors and slave owners who were throwing an extended fit. That it’s flying in so many public buildings is disrespectful and a travesty. It’s a flag that is indicative of a split so terrible that it started the very uncivil Civil War.

If you’re brandishing it, I’m going to assume that you probably don’t know much about your own history. (I’m also going to assume that you’re at least a little bit racist but hey, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and argues passionately in favor of the Confederate flag’s “noble” history, then it’s probably a racist!)

#tbt – Pulp Fiction: The Spider

Originally this was supposed to be a simple #tbt focus on a specific book but really, it wound up being kind of a love note to the pulps.


the spider 11I got into The Spider because of The Shadow. 

I have about fifty episodes of the original radio drama (starting in 1937) in my Audible library. Mostly because you can get 5 episodes for about $3.50 and every so often the price drops to half off and I went a little wild during one of the big sales.

Now after I had my fill of the radio drama, I went looking for the original pulps for The Shadow. Unfortunately, my google-fu sucks. I wound up on RadioArchives.com and immediately fell for The Spider. Issue #11 (the first issue I bought) which has the full-length story “Prince of the Red Looters” is free for the kindle on Amazon.

Created by Harry Steeger in 1933 as a direct competition to the Shadow’s incredible success as a pulp hero, the Spider shares so much in common with the Shadow that I’m wondering why I couldn’t find any reports of injunctions or lawsuits going out from Street & Smith Publication. (You know, the way that National Publications did over Will Eisner’s Superman knockoff, Wonder Man in 1939.)Read More »