May. 25th, 2009

zana16: The Beatles with text "All you need is love" (Default)
Okay, I finally saw it. You all were right, it was very good.

Although apparently my dislike of James T. Kirk is a character thing, not an actor thing. Which means that Shatner may be a perfectly good actor, and I've been avoiding everything he ever made for no reason.
zana16: The Beatles with text "All you need is love" (Default)
I'm quite late to the game in RaceFail2009 -- still wading through the links. I tend not to be much of a scifi fan online; unlike many SF fans, I don't go in for messageboards, following authors,* etc. So I was blissfully unaware of the rank stupidity going on.

Look, nobody likes to discuss race, but I'm going to, and I'm going to give you the particulars on where I come from because if you think your background doesn't affect how you think about and talk about race, well, I'd look a little closer at that assumption if I were you. Me: I am white. Not everybody in my family is white, which means that I'm a little more sensitive to white privilege and racism than the average Joe, but my whiteness means that I'm not forced to deal with issues of race day to day. I come from a middle-class background though I am poor as dirt right now. I am educated. I identify as non-practicing queer, which has nothing to do with this discussion, but I thought I'd put it out there just to muddy the waters. I've got a bit of experience with being the Other, but most of the time I have the privilege of blending into the background.

Moving on... [livejournal.com profile] imaginarycircus mentioned having to look at her writing based on what she'd learned from RaceFail, and of course I didn't want to do the same but it nagged at me until I did. Here's what I've got: lj-cut for tl;dr on my writing and characters )

Then I started thinking about the shows I watch and race, which is complicated by the fact that two of the shows I watch are from the '70s. Is it fair, or useful, to judge the past by the standards of today? I'd like to think so, but have less expectation of shows from the past -- among other factors, people have learned a lot in the intervening years. Not enough, but a lot. I'd like to think that today's networks wouldn't put up with the racial stereotyping in Starsky & Hutch, but I wouldn't bet on it. Early Law & Order kept portraying things as a choice between law and race, which drove me nuts (and let's not even talk about the total absence of female leads). And then there's The Professionals, which I love to pieces, but....

Okay, it was made in the seventies. The really racist crap is in one particular episode, that to my knowledge has never actually aired in Britain. So I can understand the urge to ignore it and say "it's not in my canon," as if you can pick and choose what's part of somebody else's universe.

I've seen a lot of fans, particularly in fanfiction, trying to excuse Bodie's racism in Klansmen. Sometimes they make up a backstory. Oftentimes it's that Bodie was raped by darkies whilst In Deepest Africa and has never recovered since -- bonus hurt/comfort theme! So therefore his racism is understandable. It has a reason, and as soon as it hits him that not all black men are out for his arse, he's okay. Making the end of the episode, where Bodie is magically cured of both knife wound and racist attitude by fucking a black woman somehow more... acceptable. Oh my God I wish I could take back this episode. It's just so fucking awful.

...I'm not comfortable with apologism for racism. It gets into "we're all victims here" and I don't think that's okay. Sure, many of us who have survived sexual violence go through a phase where we hate all men. You know what? We have to get over that phase. Rape by a black man would not excuse Bodie's racism.

There appears to be only one agent of color in CI5. He appears in two episodes. One of them is the one that remains unaired.

I watch The Professionals as pure escapism. I don't want to have to think about these things. But canon stuck them in there. Bodie is a racist, and much as none of us like to admit that, we're trivializing it when we start to make excuses for him, or don't admit to it.

What's my point? Do I hate Bodie? Actually, no, not at all. There's something else I've been pushing around my brain for awhile. It's that I'm likely to cut people out of my life for being racist, but not for being homophobic. Which, you'd think it would be the opposite, me being who I am. I look at homophobia more as ignorance of the facts, and if I have to shock somebody out of their homophobic complacency by saying, "Yeah, I'm just like you, but also I sometimes sleep with girls," then I can be that person. And, when I'm being less judgmental, racism is equally about ignorance. The difference being, of course, that I don't have to admit to queer, whereas people of color wear their difference on their skin.

Of course I find it easier to love people whose ideologies I don't find repulsive. But I do love an awful lot of homophobic people, and yeah, it hurts, but in some cases they're related to me, and in some cases they're really good people who also have some fucked-up beliefs, hurtful beliefs. I think it's possible to love them while still standing up to their ideologies. And if I'm going to do that with homophobes, I guess I'm going to have to do that with racists, as well.

There's a reason I watch The Professionals more than I watch The Wire. The latter is wonderful, and make you think. Oftentimes I don't want to think. Pros is over-the-top, violent, macho, and sexist. I still love it. I still love the characters. I just... I wish people would stop denying that they are anything other than what they are. It's okay to love something despite its faults.

* I blame Orson Scott Card for this. The man is one of the most talented writers in the world, and I cannot buy his books because he believes that I am an abomination. The vitriol made me decide that I'd rather not deal with authors as they really are. Yes, I'm putting my head in the sand. I read SF to escape, dammit!

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