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Wars vs Trek


I often get asked why the hell do you like Star Trek as opposed to Star Wars.  Probably any Trekker or Trekkie will know the reason or have good reasons of their own, and I don’t hate Star Wars.  Let me just say that right off.  Star Wars has a really good story and an over arching concept that tells an interesting and rather epic story.  Star Trek, on the other hand, has developed a huge backstory and history surrounding the place where Starfleet comes from and where each of the alien species comes from.  But for me, Star Trek has something which is a lot closer to home.

Whereas Star Wars takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (and keep in mind, galaxy is big so it’s not taking place in the Milky Way Galaxy, but another galaxy billions of light years away), Star Trek takes place in our galaxy, with our planet as a focal point.  It’s our future, not a past that takes place somewhere else.  So for me, Star Trek means hope for our future.  This is the kind of thing that Gene Roddenbarry had strived to create.  A utopian Earth, but still lots of exploring and issues to deal with in the rest of the galaxy.

We got to see that with the original series, Next Gen, DS9, and Voyager.  We even get to see that in Enterprise, and even though it’s ancient history for the other series, its still our future.  It is still something to look forward to.

While I like some escapism in my fiction, I still like to be reminded that there will always be some future filled with hope.  That’s why I’m not big on dystopian fiction.  I like to think our future is going to be alright and we’re going to get over the things that plague us like racism, sexism and classism.  I’d like to think that those who claim themselves to be anti-anything (from SJW to feminism to black to anything else that impedes progress) will one day die out and their backwards, barbaric and outdated beliefs can be left behind.

Star Trek doesn’t look to the past.  It looks to the future.  For me, that future is filled with hope.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2015 in Fun, Life, randomness

 

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Blackout


It’s #blackout on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and any other social networking platform worth a damn (I notice no one is using the Google+ logo in the promos up to this point, or WordPress, for that matter).  Here’s a couple of things about #blackout.  First, it’s about African American/Canadians showing their love of themselves by posting selfies on the above said platforms.  It’s a celebration not only of self, but of community.

Let’s face it, there’s been a ton of shitty things that have happened to black people in the last couple of years (decades and centuries really, but let’s focus on the breakneck speed of social networking).  There’s a reason why you see pictures of people wearing hoodies (bunny hugs) or carrying Skittles and bottles of Ice Tea.  There’s a reason why the St. Louis Rams players walked onto the field with their hands up.  There’s a reason why there’s a hashtag called #blacklivesmatter.  #Blackout, and subsiquently Black History Month (why is it the shortest month of the year again) have and probably will receive a lot of shitty comments from shitty white people.  These are the same folks who just can’t shut up about black people wanting something that’s about them.  They’d rather have a homogenized, mayonnaise type history lesson where America (and Canada) didn’t do anything fucking wrong.  Here’s the thing though, if we do learn that we did something wrong, then we can recognize it and say “let’s try not to do that again”.

Bottom line, during #blackout, try not to be a fucking douche about it and just let African Americans/Canadians do their thing and celebrate not only themselves but an entire community.  You know, kind of like what white German American/Canadians do during Oktoberfest or Scottish American/Canadians do during Robbie Burns Day (on a related note, I am both German and Scottish in ancestry and participate in neither of those things).

Something I’d really like to point out that’s a major positive is how quickly the promos for #blackout popped up.  It may have to do with the fact I follow a lot of black people, and have a lot of black followers, but wow did my Tumblr dashboard ever light up with all of the promos for today.  It shows that the power of word of mouth is amazing.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2015 in Life, randomness

 

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Representation vs Tokenism


There’s a new term being bandied about.  And that term is tokenism.  To coin a phrase from the Princess Bride:

Tokenism is essentially what many people of colour went through during the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement (and, similarly, what many women went through).  All white club invites a black person to join their ranks, there, they’ve done their job by allowing black people in their club.  Don’t need to bring in anymore.  That’s what tokenism is.  Doing the bare minimum to say a group is not racist by having their token black friend.

Representation is actually mirroring people in the world.  The world is made up of more than just white, straight, cis, men.  There’s women, gay men, lesbians, black, Asian (of which there is a grand diversity in that group), trans and so on and so on.  And within each group is a grand diversity.  You’ll find men, women, straight, gay, lesbian, and transgender people among those who are African American, for example.

But the group claiming that representation is merely tokenism doesn’t really get it.  People aren’t asking for one or two aspects to be represented in a work of fiction (comics, books, television, movies, and so on).  Because often that creates a stereotype, or that representation is treated like a stereotype.  Here’s a list of good examples of representation:

  • Sam Wilson as Captain America
  • Batwoman, a Jewish lesbian
  • Renee Montoya, a.k.a. the Question, a lesbian woman of colour
  • Misty Knight
  • Spider-Gwen
  • Apollo and Midnighter
  • Connor Hawke, Green Arrow
  • Cass Cain, Black Bat
  • The entire run of Fearless Defenders
  • Justice League United
  • Ms. Marvel
  • Captain Marvel

There’s a lot more than that, but you get the idea.  A few of those characters (see Connor Hawke) don’t exist in the comic book universe they used to anymore.  I was going to include Katar Hol from John Ostrander’s run on Hawkworld, but after I thought about it for a while, that version of Hawkman is a good example of tokenism.  It wasn’t until late in the Hawkworld run that the read learns his mother is a Cherokee woman.  Making Katar, a Thanagarian, half Native American.  Two reasons why this is tokenism.  First, it is never mentioned once in the early run of Hawkworld nor in the three issue prestige format.  Second, the Tribal Nation used was Cherokee, which yes, is a tribe but considering Katar’s father was scouting the northern and midwestern regions of the States, it could have easily have been someone from a Dakota Nation, Huron Nation, Mohawk Nation, Miq’maq Nation or Algonquin Nation.Thirdly, whenever a Native Tribe is mentioned, it’s usually Cherokee or Apache.  This is also commonly used when white people say they have Native American ancestry (yeah, dude, my family was from New York, I was born in New York, and never left New York, but we have Cherokee blood in us…. sure, right, whatever).  In that case, Katar’s a good example of making an after thought tokenism.

Similarly, it’s the same thing by deciding Booster Gold is Canadian, though not nearly as bad.  I mean, it’s possible he could have been from Canada, but of course he’s born in Toronto.  Dear comic book writers who aren’t Canadian, please try and name five other Canadian cities.  If you can’t, go get an atlas and do some research.  It’s equally easy to do this with people of colour, or people with alternative lifestyles, genders, sexualities, and even women.

So don’t go around saying that representation is just tokenism, because it’s not.  It is so not the same thing.  And we don’t need to go over this conversation over and over again like other conversations.  As to bring up another quote from Princess Bride:

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2015 in Fun, Life, randomness

 

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Tumblr has a problem with diverse media.


Turn the Page, Tumblr has a problem with diverse media..

This is an excellent article on diversity in media.  Especially how Tumblr users handle it.

I am a minority creator myself (biracial, mentally ill) and I’ll be the first to admit that hanging around tumblr has been helpful in learning how to examine my programming and how it shows up in my work. However, I possess a confidence— and arrogance— in my work that others do not, which allows me to press forward even when my inbox accuses my queer characters being “lip service” because they don’t have romantic arcs.

Is deep-sj tumblr happy with this model? Are we content to batter aspiring socially-conscious creators into abandoning the idea of creating altogether, while scores of white boys skim past your open condemnation of Urbance with a scoff, if they even read it at all?

Let’s talk about Urbance. Before I get right into it I have a related anecdote.

Some time ago, I recommended The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin to a user seeking books with gender-nonbinary characters (the work in question contains characters who are, quite explicitly and viscerally, genderfluid). They immediately discarded the idea after reading its summary on goodreads. They didn’t want to read a book about “some white guys from Earth having to ~learn to accept~ gender noncomforming aliens and that being the entire arc of the story”.

Anyone who’s actually read Left Hand knows this is ludicrous, but for your benefit, the main character is black, and he is the only Earthborn human in the story; the Gethenians are described as ‘Inuit brown’ and are humanoid in every respect besides their unique sexual physiology. The core themes of the book are actually about exploring a society which doesn’t have a masculinity construct. Where everyone is both male and female. No time is spent by the (BLACK) protag being disgusted or crudely fascinated by the Gethenians; only with examining how his two-gendered social programming has led him to frequently prejudge and misunderstand them.

No, that wasn’t good enough. These barriers need to not exist, because we want diverse stories where LGBT and people of color don’t face prejudice, right?

Read the rest at the link.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Life, randomness

 

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GamerGate strikes again


I used to go to a certain website because it happened to have a few funny videos and had some discussion on video games.  That site was the Escapist Magazine.  I eventually went from watching funny flash cartoons and video game based web series (from a pair of Australians) to watching Zero Punctuation, then Loading Ready Run, the Unksippable, then Escape to the Movies, The Big Picture, and finally Jim Sterling’s Jimquisition and Loading Ready Run’s Feed Dump (there was also the Escapist News Network, run by Loading Ready Run, but that moved over to Ctrl Alt Del or Penny Arcade, can’t remember which, been a while since I watched it).

About a month or so ago, Jim Sterling’s show, along with a show he did with Yatzhee (Zero Punctuation) was cancelled.  This past week, Escape to the Movies was axed and the week before, The Big Picture.

And there is an indication that pro-GamerGate supporters are behind this.  Those same individuals will decry that MovieBob and Jim Sterling were dumping all over the primary audience of the Escapist, but those same individuals must also have forgotten that they aren’t the majority.  Video games and the audience is changing.

But GamerGate got rid of MovieBob from the Escapist.  Sure, Bob said some problematic things (we all do at some point in time, we just have to recognize that).  I’ll agree to that as long as GamerGaters also admit something.  Their movement began as an attack against a woman because she had sex.  A whiny pissbaby of an ex-boyfriend got bent out of shape over it, and it became a movement of the most asinine.  But GamerGate, now thanks to the Escapist Magazine ditching Jim Sterling and MovieBob, has taken on a new hat (fedora or trilby).

The fascist aspect of censorship.  That’s right, GamerGate has now got censorship under it’s belt.  No freedom of speech for anyone unless it’s the type they like.  Nothing like adding that to your already ugly list of things GamerGaters don’t like.  Hell, they already have racism and sexism on their side.  May as well tag them with the big F for fascism now.  They’ve covered censorship, after all.

And you know what.  I really don’t give a shit if Jim Sterling has said some really awful things in the past.  Sterling can be pretty in your face, and sometimes I don’t agree with him.  I also don’t agree with Rush Limbaugh or Don Cherry and think they’re pretty horrible, but I don’t cry out that their shows should be pulled from the air.  GamerGate wants integrity in video game journalism, but only if it agrees with them.

Agree or disagree with Bob Chipman or Jim Sterling, doesn’t matter.  GamerGate got them pulled, which means they’ve achieved fascist standards of censorship.  No free speech for Bob or Jim, because they aren’t saying what we want them to say, would be something GamerGate would probably say just not in public.  Or hell, they probably would, considering that’s what a bunch of whiny pissbaby’s do.

To think, this began as one guy who got bent out of shape because his ex had sex.  And yes, I know she had sex with a guy who wrote game reviews.  That’s not the fuckin’ point.  He got bent out of shape because she had sex.  And now, GamerGate has become filled with censorship, scaring off newcomers into the gaming world, and basically setting back standards for gaming into the 1970s.

But I don’t expect GamerGate to change, because the supporters and the organization itself has it’s head firmly shoved up it’s ass.  Congratulations.  You wanted integrity.  But you went overboard and did what any authoritarian dictator does with those who don’t agree with them.  You censored them.  You silenced them.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in randomness

 

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87th Academy Awards


The Oscars have come and gone, just as they always have for me.  Not realizing it until it was all done.

But I’m able to catch up, thanks to Twitter and Tumblr.  The takeaways: American Sniper didn’t win shit, because it was a shitty movie, and white people still manage to stick it to minorities while attempting to sound like they’re sticking it to white people.

The evening began with Neil Patrick Harris’ little joke of “welcome to the best and the whitest… or rather brightest”.  Most will take that as a joke that the Academy’s are really racist and run by old white dudes.  Or, in reality, it could be taken as the Academy is aware of it’s racism but just doesn’t care.  Will this mean the end for NPH as host?  Probably not, because NPH still manages to check off the diversity box because he’s gay while still being incredibly white and also not a gay stereotype which most homophobes still view as the typical gay person.

The Awards weren’t totally white, however, as Alejandro G. Iñárritu picked up two awards.  One for Original Screenplay and one for Best Director.  And he was still made the butt of a joke identifying him as Mexican.  We can’t walk away from garbage like that, can we.  We just can’t celebrate someone’s triumph without ripping it down to make a stereotype out of someone.

Are the Academy Awards relevant anymore?  They stopped being relevant for me years ago.  At one time, it was a point of pride to have that “Nominated For Best Picture” or “Best Picture” sticker on the video box, displayed proudly as if to see “you need to see this movie”.  Now, social media does so much better at showcasing what’s good (Selma, Birdman, Foxcatcher, Big Hero 6) and what’s shit (50 Shades of Grey, American Sniper).

There was one good thing about the Awards (aside from Alejandro G. Iñárritu picking up two).  Women interviewed on the red carpet aren’t being subdued anymore with the vapid questions that red carpet interviewers are asking.  They showed they would rather be talking about what they’re working on instead of what they’re wearing.  They’ve been doing it for a while, but now it’s becoming a lot more vocal.

In the end, the Oscars are one big disappointment, sort of like meeting your family for some holiday meal and finding out they invited that one really racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic uncle that you can’t stand and always questions your career choices.  The one your really want to tell to go fuck themselves but you can’t without starting some massive fight.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in randomness

 

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Have we become more or less racist?


It’s a question of how society views racial minorities (and even women).

Let’s take a look at history.  It’s been relatively recent in history that the Civil Rights Movement took place.  When African Americans were given rights to own land, live where they want, look for work where they want and to even vote.  During the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, there was even a decent amount of representation regarding people of colour on television.  Movies was a bit different (but that’s something which has been this way for some time and even today).

It seems now that we’re dealing with an extremely higher degree of racism today than we were 30 years ago.  Or are we?  Are we just living in a world where social media allows us to see these things at break neck speed?  I’m not so sure about that, but we are given a closer glimpse into people’s lives and their attitudes with regard to race.  During the 80’s if you said something horribly racist it was often said among close friends in the privacy of your own home.  But today, those feelings can be addressed online without a second thought (and often is the case where those who say things like that don’t stop and think about the consequences).  All too often, those who say these incredibly racist things will back out of it with equal speed, either deleting a tweet (and failing to remember that the internet is forever) or claiming their twitter account or facebook feed was hacked (I’m sure that there have been legitimate hacks, but that excuse has been used once too often by a lot of different people on a wide range of subjects).

So the question becomes, are we more racist now than we were during the 70’s and 80’s, or is it that we just see these things more thanks to social media?  It’s apparent after 9-11 the number of racist attacks (both verbal and physical) against followers of Islam increased.  And that spike hit again when American Sniper came out, gaining some twisted Jaws Effect (the Jaws Effect was so named for the movie Jaws in 1975, before the movie sharks were not seen as a problem but after the movie shark hunts began and in many cases to the point of near extinction).  Are we just seeing what’s been there all along thanks to social media?  Is it merely nothing new or are we dealing with an increase of racism the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades?

One thing I do know, we are getting this news faster and more accurately thanks to social media.  Twitter, tumblr and facebook were the first places I heard of the execution of three young Muslim Americans.  It’s obvious it was a hate crime and not a parking dispute.  I find it extreme why someone would use a gun in a parking dispute (which there alone should indicate how much of a psychotic Hicks was).  Even worse is the number of media outlets lining up to say that yes indeed it was a parking dispute, adding only more fuel to the fire that America doesn’t want to be seen as a hate filled nation.

But the rest of the world is watching, and from where I, and a lot of others stand, it is pretty hate filled.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2015 in Life, randomness

 

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