Saturday, September 29, 2007

White Hot

After reading Stephanie's ravings about Chuck, I decided to watch the show's pilot episode tonight. I initially didn't want to watch it because of the picture the commercials painted: dorky guy, hot girl, guns and car chases. Not my bag, man. So I chose to watch it so I could share an informed opinion.

I'm really annoyed.

I like the concept of the show: an employee at Best Buy, er, "Buy More," becomes a human computer, and both the NSA and the CIA are after him. What I don't like is the basis for the casting choices, especially in the women's roles. It's great that Sarah, the secret agent, has agility, intelligence, and a challenging career. So why does she have to walk around in her underwear for two scenes? And it's great that she can dance. But why does her moves at the concert serve mainly to overstimulate Chuck? It wasn't necessary for her to gyrate like a stripper to toss knives at her assassins. Although Chuck creator Josh Schwartz wanted you to believe it was necessary. Was it also necessary for her to be white, blond, stunning, and borderline emaciated? I swear I saw her ribs while she was parading around her hotel room in her bra and panties.

I understand that white, blond, pretty, thin women actually exist in America. I have friends who fit this description. The problem is, they aren't the only women who exist in America. I think Josh Schwartz would prefer if they were the only women on the planet . . . but anyhoodle. Yes, Sarah Lancaster and Julia Ling were also on the show, and they both have dark hair. And Ms. Ling isn't white, as far as I know. However, both of them are really good-looking, and Julia's character had maybe two lines. Sarah Lancaster's character was somewhat more substantial, although I don't think she had any funny lines or any motivation other than helping her brother Chuck find a girlfriend.

Some people may say that I am overanalyzing a harmless, humorous show. Some people may point out that if I don't like Chuck, I can watch something else; there are other TV shows out there that speak to me as a clever, average-looking, nonwhite woman. Oh really? Which shows, besides Ugly Betty (who in real life is super cute), are those? I'd settle for one that addresses just one of those adjectives. Conversely, how many shows on television right now are made for, by and about dorky white guys who enjoy white supermodel-esque girls that exist mainly for their pleasure?

One of the reasons I'm perturbed is that I spent my Thursday night at a forum for women interested in getting an MBA. All of the women I encountered there were smart, driven, friendly people. They also all looked different, but they looked wonderful. They were different ages, shapes, colors and sizes. These were real women with a purpose, and none of them were being accurately represented in or acknowledged by our mainstream media. It makes me sick that all of the women in that room, and outside of that room as well, have so much to offer our society. Yet we keep getting the same detrimental message from our billboards, our magazines, our movies and our television shows: if you're not white, and if you're not hot, you probably don't exist.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Pam and Jim were there too.

Season 4 of The Office premiered last night with the much anticipated episode entitled "Fun Run". I haven't watched the second part of it yet, but here was my favorite exchange of the night so far:

Michael: Kelly, you are Hindu. So you believe in Buddha.

Kelly: That’s Buddhists.

Michael: Are you sure?

Kelly: No.

(Michael turns to the new IT guy.)

Michael: What are you?

IT guy: Well, if you’re gonna reduce my identity to my religion, then I’m Sikh. But I also like hip-hop and NPR. And I’m restoring a 1967 Corvette in my spare time.

Michael: Okay so one Sikh. And . . .

Oh, Michael. While searching unsuccessfully for a video or screen capture of that scene, I found this lovely article: Masti See TV, by Hilal Nakiboglu Isler, at Nirali Magazine.

. . . [Mindy Kaling's character on The Office, Kelly Kapoor] might be a minor one—like most roles that go to desi actors—but it is different. Tune in to NBC on Thursdays and you’ll see why: Kelly is memorable–not because she’s Indian, but because she is chatty, upbeat and, well, irritating. There are no exaggerated accents to her performance, no suggestions of superior ability in math, no terrorist plots uncovered by co-workers.

Kelly Kapoor is the girl next door (make that cubicle). And her character is so stunningly ordinary, it represents a real triumph.

Kaling, a Dartmouth College alumna, once told her school paper she felt the world of “sitcoms and sketch” was “very white.” A script intern for Conan O’Brien at the time, she found the lack of women and people of color backstage to be disappointing.

Six years later, she is now in Los Angeles—and with acting, writing and producing credits on an Emmy-winning show, she’s out to change the plot. . .

If you readers watched the show last night, what was your favorite part?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Look how far we've come?

On HBO tonight: Little Rock Central High: 50 Years Later, by Carmen Van Kerckhove at Racialicious, originally from

Desegregation ripped through the American South in 1957 when Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus ordered National Guard troops to prevent nine black teenagers (dubbed the “Little Rock Nine”) from entering Little Rock’s Central High School while President Dwight Eisenhower sent military troops to guard them from an angry mob of whites outside the school. Today, Little Rock Central High, though 60% black and 40% white, still struggles with educational equity.

Natives of Little Rock, filmmakers Brent and Craig Renaud explore the mark of the 50th anniversary of the famous “Integration Crisis of 1957,” in Little Rock Central High: 50 Years Later premiering Tuesday, September 25 at 8 p.m. by following present-day Central High students and faculty both in and out of school, along with community leaders and one of the original “Little Rock Nine,” who reflects on how much – and how little – has evolved since she courageously crossed the school’s steps nearly half a century ago.

Even more troubling:

Um, wow. by Samhita at Feministing, originally at the Chicago Tribune.

No sooner did tens of thousands of African-American demonstrators depart the racially tense town of Jena, La., last week after protesting perceived injustices than white supremacists flooded in behind them.

First a neo-Nazi Web site posted the names, addresses and phone numbers of some of the six black teenagers and their families at the center of the Jena 6 case and urged followers to find them and "drag them out of the house," prompting an investigation by the FBI.

Then the leader of a white supremacist group in Mississippi published interviews that he conducted with the mayor of Jena and the white teenager who was attacked and beaten, allegedly by the six black youths. In those interviews, the mayor, Murphy McMillin, praised efforts by pro-white groups to organize counterdemonstrations; the teenager, Justin Barker, urged white readers to "realize what is going on, speak up and speak their mind."

Well, I certainly feel safer. Thank goodness the terrorists didn't take away our traditional American values.

Last week on Yo Gabba Gabba:

I love that tiny dancing child. I want one of my own. I wonder if they are available in the Nickelodeon store . . .

And last month on Yo Gabba Gabba:

Oh, Elijah. How the mighty have fallen. And please shave. You'd be better off with an Oreo Pizza Moustache.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Oh, if only, Mr. Smooth.

If Bill O'Reilly Was A Rapper, by Jay Smooth at ill Doctrine.

btw, I found this after Mr. Smooth posted it in the Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday comments thread on Feministe. I'm telling you, the coolest boys I know are feminists. Not that I know Mr. Smooth personally. But someday maybe.

Who was I thinking for in the past?

Shocker: Black people act like people! by zuzu on Feministe, originally from Media Matters.

During the September 19 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, discussing his recent trip to have dinner with Rev. Al Sharpton at Sylvia’s, a famous restaurant in Harlem, Bill O’Reilly reported that he “had a great time, and all the people up there are tremendously respectful,” adding: “I couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia’s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship.” Later, during a discussion with National Public Radio senior correspondent and Fox News contributor Juan Williams about the effect of rap on culture, O’Reilly asserted: “There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, ‘M-Fer, I want more iced tea.’ You know, I mean, everybody was — it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn’t any kind of craziness at all.” O’Reilly also stated: “I think black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves. They’re getting away from the Sharptons and the [Rev. Jesse] Jacksons and the people trying to lead them into a race-based culture. They’re just trying to figure it out. ‘Look, I can make it. If I work hard and get educated, I can make it.”

If you listen to the audio clip on the Media Matters page, you'll hear some classic O'Reilly gems. For instance, he thinks rap and hip hop music is different for white and black consumers "because the young white kids don't have to struggle out of the ghetto." Also, when Mr. O'Reilly went to an Anita Baker concert at Radio City Music Hall, he noticed, with a tone of surprise in his voice, that "the blacks were well-dressed" and the band was "dressed in tuxedos." According to Mr. O'Reilly, "white America" is unaware of this unaware of this excellence because they think that "[black culture] is dominated by Twista, Ludacris, and Snoop Dogg."

One, who named Bill O'Reilly as the spokesperson for "white America"? Two, can I vote next time? I have a white friend (or twenty), so I'm qualified.

Ed. note: Click on the picture of the loofah for the related reference.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The TV Paper Bag Test

As some of you readers may have noticed, I've been having a lively discussion with irwin in the comment section of my post "Jigaboos & Wannabees" about colorism (and Steve Harvey's alleged baldness?) in nonwhite communities. This has inspired me to issue a challenge to you all, which I like to call The TV Paper Bag Test. It's the weekend, so I'll be watching many shows on the small screen; I hope you'll be doing the same. While you're lounging on your couch stuffing your face with Cheetos, note how many light-skinned women and how many dark-skinned women you see on the TV. Dark-skinned meaning the color of a brown paper bag or darker. I'm not asking you to identify what race the women are, but what color. For instance, on weekday mornings, I watch Noticias and Despierta America on Univision, a network which features and targets the Spanish-speaking Latinos. In the many years that I've been watching, I have only seen one dark-skinned correspondent on either show, and he was a guy.

Report back to me on Monday with your findings. So far I've spotted Frangela on Best Week Ever, and Tyra, Whoopi and Sherri Shepherd who were featured in clips on The Soup. That's it. Bonus points if you see dark-skinned women who are not black.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Rape as a war crime is so hot right now, by Jill at Feministe.

Clickety-click on the links for the whole story.

Also, Woman tortured, sexually assaulted in West Virginia, by Jen at Feministing.

and subsequently,

West Virginia torture and rape victim arrested for writing bad checks, by Carmen Van Kerckhove at Racialicious.

Someone alert Winnie and Nelson!

No, not Sondra and Elvin's kids.

Bush pronounces Mandela dead, via YouTube:

There are no words. Do you readers have any?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Visual Semantics, or, Why I don't listen to KTLK on weekdays from 3 to 7 pm

I got stressed out this afternoon when heard this bleepity-bleep on "Progressive Talk" radio, Mark "Mr. K" Germain, pictured above. He doesn't understand why black people (and sane people) are so upset over the situation in Jena. He feels that hanging nooses on a "white tree" in the South is freedom of speech, and not an actionable crime.

You know I had to call in. Apparently, everyone else listening in the Los Angeles area shared my passion, because the phone line was busy for at least an hour. So I choose to yell my radio between dialing attempts.

I am so tired of this fool talking wrong and strong on his self-titled program. Mr. Germain had no idea what was really going on in Jena. He read one small article on the situation and thought the entire rally and march was about three nooses and a school fight. People actually had to call in and tell him to read the Newsweek article that gives more details on the situation. He actually had the nerve to state that he had the right to walk through Inglewood with a noose since it's not a crime; it's free speech. In the words of Cedric the Entertainer in The Original Kings of Comedy, I wish that bleepity-bleep would. I doubt he'd be welcomed with flowers and candy. Then we Angelenos could get a replacement for the 3-7 slot on KTLK. Someone who does real research on topics and speak with understanding and sensitivity, instead of filling his four hours with ignorance and misinformation.

All Mr. Germain had to do was watch this video. It's not that hard! Seriously.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What Randi Rhodes has been angry about

for at least the past two days:

Student Tasered at John Kerry Speech ... Right or Wrong?

There's no question that tasering a human being for asking a question is wrong, but that's what the video was labeled on MySpace.

So far, John Kerry has said and done nothing about this. If Senator Kerry has said something, and Randi and I have missed it, please let me know.

Your Republican Party Today

Bush calls for expansion of spy law, by Deb Riechmann, AP via Yahoo! News

President Bush said Wednesday he wants Congress to expand and make permanent a law that temporarily gives the government more power to eavesdrop without warrants on suspected foreign terrorists...

Under the new law, the government can eavesdrop without a court order on communications conducted by a person reasonably believed to be outside the U.S., even if an American is on one end of the conversation — so long as that American is not the intended focus or target of the surveillance...

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said lawmakers understand the need to update the law, but also the need to protect the rights and liberties of Americans.

"For over five years, the president carried out a warrantless surveillance program that ignored the law and the role of court oversight," Rockefeller said. "Today, the president continues to seek unchecked surveillance powers that many of us in Congress cannot support. The fact is, the Protect America Act did provide authority for collection, but it did not include sufficient protections for Americans. There's no reason we can't do both."

Senate blocks bill on Iraq combat tours, by Anne Flaherty, AP via Yahoo! News.

Democrats' efforts to challenge President Bush's Iraq policies were dealt a demoralizing blow Wednesday in the Senate after they failed to scrape together enough support to guarantee troops more time at home...

[Democratic Senator Jim Webb's] legislation would have required that troops spend as much time at home training with their units as they spend deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Members of the National Guard or Reserve would be guaranteed three years at home before being sent back.

Most Army soldiers now spend about 15 months in combat with 12 months home.

"In blocking this bipartisan bill, Republicans have once again demonstrated that they are more committed to protecting the president than protecting our troops," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

FYI, about an hour ago, the second story was labeled something like, "GOP blocks bill to give troops more time at home." Why the duplicitously fair and balanced change, Yahoo?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Where will you be on Thursday?

Click on the above video, The Jena Six, by Collateral News on YouTube. Then click on to find out more about the RALLY & MARCH FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE on Thursday, September 20, 2007, in Jena, Louisiana. Thousands of people will be there. I'm hoping it will be on C-SPAN so I can tape it.

Who let this bigot run for President?

(In case you're wondering which bigot I'm referring to, the one pictured above is Mitt Romney.)

Romney targets gay marriage in new ad, by Mike Glover, AP via Yahoo! News.

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney is launching a radio ad touting the strength of his opposition to gay marriage.

Romney, who has come under criticism from conservatives for his past support of some gay rights issues, says he is the only major GOP candidate backing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

"Not all Republican candidates agree, but defending marriage is the right thing to do," Romney says in the 60-second spot to begin airing Wednesday.

"As Republicans we must oppose discrimination and defend traditional marriage: one man, one woman," Romney says in the spot.

Does Mitt Romney not know what the word discrimination means? I don't need another butcher of the English language sitting in the White House again.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ms. hooks, if you're reading,

I think you're awesome, too! I found the video below via I crush on bell hooks, by Jessica on Feministing.

Some day I'll read one of your books. For now, I'll enjoy you on my computer. There are more bell hooks videos on YouTube, but I haven't watched them yet.

I also also found this post in the comments: Why can’t bell hooks think more about the feelings of white men? on Our Descent into Madness. I immediately started yelling at my screen. Nice!

Walking the streets of Hollywood

I saw Wicked last night at the Pantages theater. By intermission, I was crying. It was like when I watched An Inconvenient Truth the second time; I was so moved. It felt like Al Gore and Elphaba were talking/singing directly to me, and I understood exactly what they were saying. I feel green all the time. I want to help the animals, too. I too am not that girl.

It was amazing. I want to take my niece to go see it. I don't have that kind of money now, but someday I will. And I'll do it. Unless the movie comes out first. Then I'll take her to see that instead. In the meantime, I encourage all of you readers to see Wicked and take a young woman with you as well. A good time will be had by all.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Some say global warming is a myth.

For those nonbelievers, I direct you to this article: Arctic ice melt opens Northwest Passage, by Jamey Keaten, AP via Yahoo! News (emphases mine).

Arctic ice has shrunk to the lowest level on record, new satellite images show, raising the possibility that the Northwest Passage that eluded famous explorers will become an open shipping lane.

The European Space Agency said nearly 200 satellite photos this month taken together showed an ice-free passage along northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland, and ice retreating to its lowest level since such images were first taken in 1978...

A U.N. panel on climate change has predicted that polar regions could be virtually free of ice by the summer of 2070 because of rising temperatures and sea ice decline, ESA noted.

Who's laughing now, suckers? Ha!

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Democratization of the Internet

When I first heard about Quarterlife, the new MySpaceTV series coming in November, I didn't want to jump to any conclusions. Why should I think a television show about individuals in their twenties necessarily be about skinny, pretty, whiny white Americans who don't really have anything to say about anything?

If only my cynicism could be proven wrong once. To be fair, I think I saw one black guy in the trailer. The peeps at Defamer had some humorous comments about this groundbreaking series as well.

For more thoughts on representation on and off the interwebs, I direct you to a poignant article about this summer's Yearly Kos convention: Radical Knowledge: Where are all the bloggers of color?, by Brownfemipower, on Zuky, found via Feministe.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Jigaboos & Wannabees

A few months ago, I posted the following heated pieces on this blog: I'm a normal person., I should share this with everyone!, and Agree to Disagree?. As an update on that series of posts, I offer this letter from the Strawberry 23 segment of this morning's Steve Harvey Morning Show (overuse of commas and exclamation points not mine):

Subject: Color Blinded Husband!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello, I have been married for two years now, I have known my husband five of those years. But Shirley the longer you stay with someone you start to know a person, I am married to a man that is damn color struck, if I had known this before I married him, I would have second thoughts, it does not matter how a woman looks, if you are fair skin, or white she is pretty to him, we will be watching TV, and he will comment on someone which is okay, but they are always white or light skin, I was brought up not to have any prejudice when it comes to color, he has never said any woman that is medium to dark skin is cute, or pretty, it is just like they do not exist, this is so irritating to me, and get this I am a dark skin sister, I ask him all the time why he married me he say I am pretty etc, but it makes me think, but he is always saying that is a pretty red woman, I do not like that term for color (red) it is like he is lost in this color blindness, please help, Lost in and confused in South Carolina!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shirley answered the letter in her usual levelheaded way. However, Steve had some controversial words for both the woman who wrote in and the woman's husband. The phrases "Uncle Tom" and "house negro" were used liberally. I was cracking up, not at the poor woman's situation, but at Steve's methods for dealing with this man. He suggested things like serving the husband a plate of warm cotton for dinner, putting the initials "UT" in his clothing, and placing chocolate chip cookies around the house. I like that last piece of advice for me. Yum! You can read the comments on Steve's website here until another letter appears tomorrow morning.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I apologize to Zac Efron.

After multiple (two) of you readers pointed out that Mr. Efron may not have leaked Ms. Hudgens's pictures on the internet, I will no longer label Zac guilty until proven innocent. Until the IP addresses are checked, Mr. Efron is just an unfortunate bystander. I'm sorry, sir.

My apology was also sparked by this developing situation, which I discovered on People via Defamer: High School Musical nudity update.

In a shocking--just shocking!--development in the Vanessa Hudgens Nudie Photos Scandal, a "source close to the situation" says that the High School Musical libertine sent the racy images to Drake of Nickelodeon's Josh and Drake. We know! Already-enraged Disney Channel execs will be additionally livid about Hudgens' disloyal decision to show her body to a direct competitor's horny talent.

However, Mr. Bell's rep reports, "Drake says he never received those photos."

I feel like I'm in an episode of Law and Order where Sam Waterston and his supermodel Assistant DA keep arresting the wrong suspects.

The best part? The comments.

From Ben:

What about Malcolm? Was he in the middle?

And from El SmrtMnky:

ironically, zac efron emailed naked photos of himself to drake bell, too.

So wrong, yet so funny.

Also, since Stephanie is into the younger men, I wonder which one she would choose:


Or Zac?

What about a Jonas brother?

Not the middle one, readers. Nick's not legal yet.

For readers like my Mummy who could never tell the difference between Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, there are five separate people in these photos. However, Drake is featured in two of them: the picture at the top of the post with the birds, and the picture right below his name and the question mark.

Monday, September 10, 2007

We've got to stop all of this white-on-white crime.

I didn't watch the VMAs this year, or even last year, because really. Are they even relevant anymore? No, they aren't. However, this morning I couldn't escape the stories of what went down in Vegas last night. If you live under a rock, or if you are my mother (who said to me last weekend, "I don't get Justin Timberlake"), here are the recaps:

Kid Rock and Tommy Lee are super mature, on The Superficial,


Britney Spears Gives The People What They Want: A Nationally Televised VMA Trainwreck, on Defamer

Kanye acted the fool, too, but who wasn't expecting that?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

What He Said, too.

Somewhat more important than High School Musical nudie pictures:

“Do you understand where you are?” by Lower Manhattanite on The Group News Blog, via Feministing.

...The tale of [the Jena 6] reminded me of an incident that took place in my family some 14 years ago. It was a simple family a small southern town. A tiny place in the extreme southernmost end of North Carolina... thing in the information packet began to start a buzz among the present.

There was a note about the local nightspots. Namely, that there were none. Save for the juke joint down the road a piece across from the “Fish Shack”, and of course, the few spots some 35 minutes away in Wilmington. But one of the note's points of interest got some of the young people going. It stated, that after 8:00 P.M., NO ONE WAS TO GO DOWN ACROSS THE RAILROAD TRACKS, PAST THE GREEN HOUSE (an actual green-colored house), AS THAT WAS THE DEMARCATION LINE BETWEEN FREE-GOING COUNTRY, AND KLAN TERRITORY.

Doing so was, according to the note, “tempting fate” and “taking your life into your own hands.”

Many of the assembled—particularly the younger ones, were agog at this special note, thinking it was a.) a joke, b.) a silly wive's tale, and worst of all, c.) an open provocation to their God-given right to flex their northern-bred muscle and “rights”. After much clamor, older relatives prevailed upon the upset youngers, and implored them to please observe the warning. It was not a frivolous one...

Of course, you can guess what would happen that night. While many of us went into Wilmington to celebrate...a clutch of the set opted to cross those tracks—to saunter past that “green house”...

My Uncle A. rushed into the Wilmington club, got on the mic, and requested that all family members leave immediately to get back to the main homestead.

As we left, we were told that shots had been fired at the brazen revelers who had line-stepped that aforementioned threshold...

...a large family meeting was called in the high school's lunchroom...

“We can't tolerate this!”

“This ain't 1920! What are we gonna do about this?”

“Fuck this!” (much grumbling and “Heys!” from the crowd) “Sorry. Sorry about my language. But, this is 1993! How does something like this happen?”

And then my Uncle R. The supposedly “crazy” Uncle R. (mentioned in comments in Jesse's “Genius” post) stood up, towering in his crisp overalls and bright red work shirt—and brought his frying pan-sized hand down suddenly on a table, and it boomed like a grenade in the lunchroom, stopping us all dead in our tracks.

He thundered, “Ya'll have no clue do you? No clue at all! I read the papers—I hear about what goes on up north. Cops shootin' you down every God-blessed day, but that's okay! That's fine! And then you all come down here, thinkin' everything is fine and mellow. You haven't a care in the world. And you leave your brains at home and forget the simplest things. Do you have the common sense that God gave a gnat? Do you understand where-you-are?”

The room fell silent. He looked around at the assembled and repeated it.

“Do you understand...where-you-are?” He took a breath. “Where we are?”

Further down in the post:

You see, being Black in America, is not just about one's skin, and the big boogeyman of racism roaring in your face all day long. It's about the little things. Subtle shit (LM checks around to see if anyone heard him curse). You will often find yourself questioning your place. Your presence. “Should I be here?” It's a sad, and pathological spectacle too many of us do—but do it we do, for good reason. There are large numbers of White folk who visibly blanch at our very proximity. Understanding though, that The Black Star Line is no longer taking passengers “Back to Africa”, a lot of these folks have learned that they grudgingly must live with us. However, they have chosen to dictate the terms of how that “living with us” will go—thanks to majority status, White Skin Privilege, and control of the courts and government in large part.

We walk on eggshells still, many of us—gauging our effect on the surrounding environment, even the most bodacious of us, internally faltering for a moment when we enter certain surroundings. Letting that painful question be heard for the briefest second—“Is it okay for me to be here?”—before plodding forward defiantly...and sometimes with great trepidation.

That is the damage of institutionalized racism. Its “mark”, if you will. That hesitation. How does the old saying go?

“He who hesitates is lost.”

And sooooooooo many Black folks have hesitated over the years, decades and soon it will be centuries, that they—we—have become lost.

When I was growing up in St. Thomas, I rarely thought to myself, “Should I be here?” or “Is it okay for me to be here?” Now that I live in LA, I think about it all the time. It is a huge difference. It's not as bad as it could be, but when I walk around in certain areas--actually, in most of the areas I frequent--I feel like a freak show. I imagine other black USVI-to-US-mainland transplants feel the same way. I don't know if other colors of people--like white people, or people of Middle Eastern, Indian, or Puerto Rican descent--who grew up in the US Virgin Islands but now live on the mainland United States, feel the same way.

If you are reading this blog and you have experienced a similar Caribbean-to-US culture shock situation, please weigh in!

What She Said.

Remember, kids: just because you put someone on a pedestal, it doesn’t mean you get to keep them there if they want off, by zuzu on Feministe.

...Mind you, the person [Vanessa Hudgens] sent this picture to was not only her boyfriend, but her co-star, Zac Efron (who looks not at all like a real person). And yet where is the outrage over this squeaky-clean teen looking at dirty pictures (or, for that matter, his role in it getting onto the internet from his email)? For that matter, does anyone remember that the person who actually ripped off Janet Jackson’s bodice was Justin Timberlake? About the only guy I can remember anyone getting all het up about doing something naughty was Daniel Radcliffe, and that probably had more to do with him being so closely associated with Harry Potter than with “Daniel Radcliffe is a role model.”...

I do remember how JT left Janet hanging in the breeze when that wardrobe malfunction happened. I was well angry when she apologized, because she had no need to. It was a fake boob that was on the screen for maybe three seconds. During that same Super Bowl broadcast, there were at least two commercials for two separate erectile dysfunction medications. There was also a football game, where big sweaty men throw each other to the ground, then pat each other on the behind. Janet should not have apologize for anything. It was Justin's fault, and even so, it was an accident. The people who called into CBS were mad because Justin is white and Janet is black, and interracial sex still scares certain people. You know who those certain people are, I don't need to name names. As some comic said at some point in time, the wardrobe malfunction wouldn't have been such a big deal if it had been Britney's boob.

Onto Daniel Radcliffe and Vanessa Hudgens. Daniel chose to get naked on stage at 17 in Equus. In that role, he also simulated gouging out the eyes of horses. He now wants to inflict his nude, animal-abusing self on American theater-goers and movie audiences. Everyone knew about those choices from the preproduction of the fifth Harry Potter movie till the moment it opened in theaters this summer. I'd heard nary a word about whether the individual portraying the title character in a ubiquitous franchise aimed at children should make such controversial choices; he's a role model for kids all around the world. I mean, horse gouging? Really?

But let one unauthorized image come out of "that girl from High School Musical"--no, not that one--and American parents are up in arms. Technically, it's only two LA mothers, who have so much more to worry about considering they're raising their kids in Los Angeles: the mecca for the superficial and self-absorbed. Vanessa is 18 years old. She is not a "wonderful, pure innocent person;" she is an actor playing a part in two Disney movies. She sent a photo of herself, sans clothes, to her boyfriend. Her boyfriend then leaked the private photo onto the internet, without her consent. Who is the actual poor role model in this situation? Hint: this guy!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Uniquely gay, or just another cowboy?

Defamer joins the Ben Foster discussion by linking to After Elton's review of 3:10 to Yuma, by Michael Jensen. (Emphases mine.)

Ben Foster stars as Charlie Prince, Wade’s villainous henchman and second in command who oozes gay subtext.

To be perfectly clear, Foster’s part is actually rather small [dirty!], so don’t expect GLAAD to issue a press release taking director James Mangold to task for denigrating the gay community. That being said, there is also no mistaking that Foster’s character is indeed coded as gay and is done so to make him even more unsettling to filmgoers since being a murderous sociopath apparently isn't bad enough.

When we first see Charlie Prince, he is astride his horse, one hand draped delicately over the other with the limpest wrist this side of the Mississippi river. He is by far the nattiest dresser in the entire cast, and if that isn’t mascara he’s wearing when we first meet him then I’m Buffalo Bill.

Foster’s casting tells us a great deal about what Mangold intended for the character. He is a slight man, probably best known as Angel in X-Men: The Last Stand and as Russell, Claire’s sexually ambiguous boyfriend in Six Feet Under. Macho isn’t a word likely to often be used in describing Foster.

First of all, Mr. Jensen, if you're going to spend almost the entire two pages talking about Ben Foster, I'd rethink your choice to title your article "Review of Russell Crowe's "3:10 to Yuma". Second, I don't think most people remember that Ben Foster was actually in the third X-Men movie, considering his onscreen time totaled less than five minutes. Third, not all of us like our men "macho." Cases in point: the Spider-Man and Pirates of the Caribbean trilogies. No one in their right mind would call Orlando Bloom "macho," but that elf has done pretty well for himself.


Speaking of olde tyme closet cases, you all should have watched Mad Men last night. If you didn't and you do get AMC, then shame on you. I suggest you all read Todd's review on South Dakota Dark, and James Poniewozik's review on Tuned In. Also, Crista Flanagan of Mad TV made a surprise guest appearance, and she was adorable!


I will get to all of your comments soon. I'm so happy that you all left them. It has been a challenging time for me, and I appreciate your continuing to share your opinions here. Even if I don't always agree with every comment, I'm thrilled that you're reading and thinking about what I have to say.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

It got me hooked on Hannah Montana.

...the absolute best part, as pointed out by noted pal Jane Wiedlin's Boyfriend (who watched this for no compensation, and therefore needs a doctor, I am thinking), is how the song repeats "work, work, work it out" until you feel like maybe nobody knew any other words to include, or nobody knew any other words at all, or somebody wrote the whole thing using a defective magnetic poetry kit where all verbs were replaced with "work," all pronouns with "it," and all prepositions with "out," and then when the music is finally over and the dance stops, Troy immediately turns to FOT [Friend of Troy, Corbin Bleu] and says, "So can we work this out?" Because he's still wondering. Goddamn, Troy. What do you think the entire song you just sang was about? Unsurprisingly, having just repeated "we can work it out" in song four hundred times, FOT replies, "Yeah, we can work it out." I'M SO GLAD WE GOT THAT CLEARED UP.

I was cracking up over that paragraph all day. My coworkers probably think I get high in the bathroom. Read the rest of Miss Alli's recap of High School Musical 2 at TWoP.

P.S. I know the picture about is from the first HSM. However, I guffaw whenever I see Sharpay and Ryan performing "What I've Been Looking For." They're so goofy.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Because I'm feeling very feminist today

Via Feministing:

I would have picked my eyes, so I could shoot "frickin' laser beams" out of my sockets, like James Marsden. He was good in Hairspray. More practically, though, I wouldn't have to get anymore corrective eyewear. I'd probably get frames with no lenses in them, because I like how my glasses look on me. The lenses are the expensive part.

Musings from a Black Woman: Tennis Etiquette edition

This is the headline that greeted me this evening on Yahoo!: Serena 'classless' and 'graceless' in loss.

The American media turned on Serena Williams on Wednesday, labelling the former world number one as "classless" and "graceless" after her sullen reaction to her U.S. Open exit at the hands of Justine Henin.


"I just think she made a lot of lucky shots and I made a lot of errors," Williams said at her news conference. "I really don't feel like talking about it. It's like I don't want to get fined. That's the only reason I came. I can't afford to pay the fines because I keep losing." Players who fail to appear for post-match news conferences face fines from tennis officials.

How does "I really don't feel like talking about it" equal "classless" or "graceless"? What was she supposed to say? "I love losing. It's great to give other people a chance to win."

I am so tired of this nonsense. To give you some perspective on the source of my frustration, I give you this clip of a non-female, non-colored athlete infamous for his history of tirades:

Maybe that was a show of youthful exuberance, you say? I give you this clip, entitled John McEnroe throwing a tantrum at age 48:

I don't recall anyone in the American media ever suggesting that Mr. McEnroe could "use charm school."

I'm all irritated now. I hate being held to some double standard squared as a black woman being punished for knowing how awesome she is. I need some HSM2 therapy:

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Hottie Alert: Ben Foster as a Cowboy Edition

I didn't know Ben was in 3:10 to Yuma until I picked up this magazine (for free, y'all. I'm po'.) The studio should put him in the commercials, because Russell Crowe and Christian Bale just don't do it for me. They old. Ben's still young and spry. As am I. :)

Zack, Slater and Screech?

I heart Defamer: Who's The Hollywood Trio On Drugs? from their sister site Gawker.

Today's Page Six wonders: "WHICH Hollywood trio of friends is in trouble? One is on crack, one's on smack, and the other cheats so much on his wife that he single-handedly is supporting several hookers..."

My favorite part, as always, is the comments section. Read and enjoy. I love the "Jessica, Elizabeth, Lila" suggestion, and the jealous Enid follow-up. If you don't know who those people are, I suggest you take a trip to Sweet Valley.

Speaking of comments, I'll respond to those from you readers soon. I'm off to beddy-bye now.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Advocate

To you new readers, welcome! Here's where it started. Here is my first response. Here is my second response.

Please read to the end of this post before you get mad at me. Do not skim it and then accuse me of meaning things that I did not say.


Every day I gain a deeper understanding of why there are so few (straight) women in comedy. No wonder I have to turn to Logo for funny female role models. I do enjoy Maria Bamford, Becky Pedigo and Wanda Sykes and Janeane Garofalo whenever I catch them on Comedy Central. But aside from them and a few others, the most prominent female comedians are lesbian, bisexual, or some other kind of queer person. To maintain a career in an already vicious field, women really have to not care what men think of them.

Another thing I appreciate more every day is the common language of TV I share with some of my friends, along with a couple others who don’t have blogs. It’s like those episodes of Will & Grace when the title characters played that word guessing game with Joe and Larry and Rob and Ellen, and Will and Grace won the prized Suck on It cup every time. I take for granted that my friend Chrissy can ask me an incomplete question ("Bangs?"), I can answer it with a single word or phrase ("Nancy McKeon."), and the discussion will be over with both parties completely satisfied. I forget that not everyone else I interact with is necessarily on the same wavelength as I am just because they also blog about TV, or in this case, sexual dynamics in American media.

To get you readers on my wavelength quickly, read the articles linked below, retitled by me. Most of them are examples of what happens when individuals don’t even challenge the patriarchy, but simply point out its existence:

Feministing, Kos, and Harassment of Women Bloggers. Here are some more anecdotes on the subject.

Who should apologize for the apparent racism in Resident Evil 5?

You say potato, I say misogyny, including getting a woman drunk in order to have sex with her.

Giving you the benefit of the doubt

I was never mad that people didn’t share my point of view on Superbad or on the creators of the movie. I wasn’t mad when I made my initial comment under the review on Pajiba. I was amused by my cleverness, because I do like to work a phrase. I was taken aback when one male-identified person used the word "feminist" to insult me, and then insinuated that I wasn’t funny. I was annoyed when another male-identified person told me to "STFU." I was perturbed when another one called me "a complete fucking idiot" and told me to "go and get off [my] soapbox."

I didn’t mind defending myself or my views. I saw it as good practice for when I become a superstar, and people like Chris Matthews and Tucker Carlson will try to double team me on Hardball. I also appreciated that some people stood up for me, pointing out that feminism is not a bad word, and that Pajiba is a perfectly acceptable place to talk about gender relations in movies.

What made me mad--besides being subsequently lectured on misogyny, told that I should "choose [my] words more carefully," and blamed for attracting the trolls in the first place (thank goodness I wasn’t wearing a short skirt)--was that none of the people who run Pajiba said anything at all during the whole time that this vicious conversation was going on. Not one word. And yes, I am going to call them out. The silent staff included Dustin Rowles, Publisher; Seth Freilich, The TV Whore; Phillip Stephens, Lead Critic; John Williams, Critic; Agent Bedhead, Critic; Stacey Nosek, Critic; Ranylt Richildis, Critic; Constance Howes, Critic. Did I forget someone? Oh yes, the Managing Editor of Pajiba and the person who wrote the Superbad review, Daniel Carlson.

In his response to the madness, Dan wrote a post on his own blog: "Arguing On The Internet Is Like Running In The Special Olympics: Even If You Win, You're Still Retarded."

Retarded? Well then.

In said post, Dan wrote "the Pajiba staff has a bit of a feminist skew — we all loves us some Joss Whedon, after all." Huh. TK also mentioned later that he supposes that he’s a feminist himself. I could make a quippy remark here, but I won’t. "Feminist" isn’t something you simply declare yourself because you believe that people of all genders should have equal rights. Feminism does not begin and end with denouncing Captivity. Feminism also involves some sort of action, or at least reaction, on your part. I’m not asking anyone to march in front of Planned Parenthood or headline the next NOW convention. I’m saying that a feminist should not remain silent when someone is being attacked for being a feminist. Especially on the blog that you run. Especially when you wrote the review . . . and anticipated the result:

"But I also must confess that I knew exactly what I was doing when I wrote that in the movie, "no woman is seen onscreen who isn’t talking to a man." I knew that would piss certain people off, and what's more, I've been writing for Pajiba for so long that I had a pretty good idea of exactly who would be pissed off, or anyway I had it narrowed down to half a dozen likely candidates."

After his confession, Dan then deemed the entire Superbad discussion--that he knowingly and purposefully incited--a "pissing contest" and that those involved should just "let it go." I’m sure the trolls that attacked me let it go a long time ago. They got their jollies by insulting an opinionated woman, then they went back to their lives, secure in their privileged status as part of the patriarchy. I, on the other hand, was not arguing for kicks. Nor was I incensed because Superbad "violates [my] views of empowered womanhood." I was defending myself because I was attacked. I was targeted not just because I am a feminist, but because I am a feminist woman. Dan, TK, and many other men are feminists, too, and that’s great. (I hope you all are still reading.) But they are not women. At the end of the day, they will always have their male privilege to fall back on. Similarly, I’m an advocate for the LGBT community, but I never purport to fully know what it’s like to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans. I can sympathize, and sometimes empathize, but at the end of the day, I will still have my heterosexual privilege in our society. Therefore, if someone in the LGBT community said they were discriminated against or attacked or hated for their sexuality, I would think long and hard (dirty!) before I challenged their claim.

Someone once said something like, "To be black in America is to be angry all the time." (If one of you readers knows the quote, please let me know.) Gloria Steinem has been quoted as saying, "In my heart, I think a woman has two choices: Either she's a feminist or a masochist." Try being black and a woman. You get very attuned to when and why people don’t like you or what you have to say. Imagine if I were queer, too: I’d have even more to say.

My point is this: why didn’t any of you on the Pajiba staff stand up for me? I’m not some obnoxious stranger; I’ve been a regular reader of yours for over a year now. Why didn’t you read what I was saying and realize that I wasn’t just arguing for argument’s sake? Why did you assume that my part in the "stupid, bickering, masturbatory bitchfest" was equivalent to the spiteful comments of those who told me to go away because I wasn’t born male and therefore my perspective was not relevant? Why was there no attempt made to moderate the discussion? I know I wasn’t the only one who felt strongly about how I was being treated. I also know that there are other girls and women who saw what happened to me and will come to the conclusion that Pajiba is a place where they should be careful about voicing their opinions: because there is a good chance they too will be harassed if they do. These questions are not rhetorical; I encourage any and all of you to leave a response.

I risked something by defending myself and my views on the Superbad comment thread. But I risk even more by writing this post. I risk alienating myself from the entire staff of Pajiba, and their Pajiba Love posse, people whose blogs I read on a regular basis and often enjoy, people whom I want to like me and my writing. I risk sounding like just another angry feminist who can’t take a joke or appreciate yet another R-rated comedy made for white heterosexual teenage males. I risk being ostracized from a community—a community that, considering my media background, I have every right to be a part of—because I spoke up for myself and I didn’t back down.

I could remain silent. I could pretend that I’m not upset about what happened and that it’s okay that no one who runs the blog came to my defense. I could choose to stop reading Pajiba and Slowly Going Bald and all the rest. That’s what usually happens when women get attacked. They get blamed for their own victimization, leave the site of the incident, then they try to pretend it never happened. The attackers go on living their lives, sans punishment, and even get rewarded by their victim’s silence, which is what the attackers wanted in the first place. And the people who said nothing are glad the drama is over.

However, I’m not going to shut up. I’m not going to go away. I’m going to see what happens next.

Thanks for reading!