Author Archives: The Cultural Superheroine
Dear friends and family,
This is a call-out post. Not in the way you’re thinking. I’ve been sitting on this open letter for a LONG time. I kept thinking it would alienate my family members and some of my friends, but you know what? At the end of the day? My happiness is more important than your opinion.
Here’s my truth and the tea, I’m just living it. I am non-binary. I came out awhile ago, but some people were like it’s a phase or you’ll always be Jess to me. Jess is my deadname (a name I no longer use and has a lot of scars for me related to trauma). It’s not a reflection on anyone, it’s just one of the many reasons I changed my name.
Speaking of, I do have gender dysphoria. Mine specifially manifests in my needing to keep my hair short and my flannel on. Some days I feel like wearing dresses, others I feel like wearing a tank top and a flannel and pockets. It wouldn’t be any different than you.
But society has deemed me as the “other” and because of that, I am labelled a way that is considered dangerous. I honestly don’t understand it. I am lucky to live in a state that not only recognizes my marriage to a transgender woman (I’ll get it, don’t you worry), but also recognizes the X on my driver’s license. Because I go between genders for lack of a better word.
So, let’s talk pronouns: I use they/them and my wife refers to me as her husband. Not because I am a man, but I am much more comfortable with a husband moniker. In dealing with this exciting news, let’s lay a few ground rules:
- I am Crimson Stone. I kept my middle name. I changed my first for a number of reasons: my reflection of being non-binary, it’s a pretty kickass name, and I happen to work in a field that likes unique names. I took my wife’s name because I love her. It wasn’t an insult to you and if you take it as such, ask yourself if you are really mad at me or if you have some preconceived notion I was disabused of in college.
- Ask for my pronouns or you can use she/her and they/them as that’s what I appear most as.
- Don’t assume that I look like a girl for the day. Hi, I’m right here, ask.
- I use the female or family bathroom. I am not comfortable in a male restroom and probably never will be.
- Every non-binary person is different. So if someone else comes out, their experience? Going to be waayyyy different than mine.
- I do not identify as transgender. Not because I don’t want to or have to. I’m not transgender and that’s just how I feel about the subject.
- If you make mistakes, that’s fine! It shows you’re trying and that you care enough to change your thinking on how you address me. I may correct you or let it go, but know that it is noticed and appreciated, ESPECIALLY if you correct yourself to the non-binary affectation.
I don’t understand how my job can change everything over in a month and just the people who I see once a year don’t know, but people who have known me for over a year can change it over instanetaneously. You have no excuse.
Okay, now that I’ve explained that, let me explain another thing: I married a transgender woman. She is a woman. Has always been a woman and quite frankly anyone who says “used to be a man” is both ignorant and an asshole.
Do I have to explain as to why I love Ispiri? No, because I love her and that’s my business. I am married. There is a ring on my finger. Please make sure to address me as such. I took my wife’s name, just as most people have taken their husbands’ names. It’s the same thing. Please don’t single me out if you don’t agree with my lifestyle.
Again, I have no ill will towards anyone in my family or friends. I just want to set the record straight.
FUN FACTS: I am also asexual, meaning I don’t really find myself attracted to others or have an interest in sex. I can’t pick up on some social cues. Remember that I love you, but I will put my foot down and protect myself, my wife, and my cats.
I’m So Tired: Or How I Learned to Stop Trusting White People Who Don’t Know What It’s Like to Live on the Edge of A Warzone
This is America.
I want to preface this before I delve into what’s been happening in the past year that was last week: I am exhausted. If you want to argue in the comments about “my privilege”, that’s nice, expect to be blocked on social media. This is not up for debate. I have thoroughly researched this and it will be long. I am anti-cop. I am against racism. If you would like to do your pearl-clutching and say “But not all cops”, kindly fuck off. Pro-Trump? Read this entire thing. If it doesn’t change your mind? Fuck off.
Okay. There is a lot of good resources on the history of black culture in America. I am not going to rehash those. But I am going to highlight one in particular because some of us do not realize the anniversary of the Black Wall Street Massacre happened May 31-June 1. 99 years ago. In the massacre’s aftermath, 35 city blocks were left in charred ruins and 10,000 people were homeless. After the rampage, many Black Tulsans left the city in fear for their safety. And many Black and white residents who remained in Tulsa stayed silent about the tragedy for decades.
Yeah, so if you think racism was solved in 1968 when the Civil Rights Act was passed. I’m . There are so many black people who have died at the hands of police. And it isn’t just a few isolated incidents. This is CONSTANT. I watched the aftermath of Michael Brown in 2014 on CNN and was like “Maybe they’ll do something.” I was also naive.
Now, 6 years later, George Floyd has been murdered for being black while a white cop literally was grinning as he murdered him. In Minnapolis. On a block I frequent when I go downtown. Cops have never been my friend. My ex-boyfriend’s sister called them on me and forced me out of my home in New York City. I was forced from my home this past weekend because of the police’s reaction to the protests in Minneapolis.
Okay, so we have a dead black man. We don’t even charge the cop the minute it happens, so of course there are protests. They are peaceful until it is discovered that the police are not getting ambulances for the protesters who get injured by TEAR GAS, RUBBER BULLETS, and OTHER WEAPONS against UNARMED PROTESTERS. So what did they do? They looted Target, Walgreen’s, and Walmart in the area for medical supplies and food. Because the people who are supposed to “protect and serve them” are hurting them and laughing in their face.
George Floyd was murdered on May 25, 2020. The officer who killed him? Didn’t get charged until May 29, 2020. FOUR DAYS. We all saw the video and oh, before you ask, no the three with him still have not been charged as of June 2, 2020.
Protests happen. They are peaceful, but then things turn violent. People from out of town and state start committing arson and looting. Not for medical supplies, but for televisions and other things. Framing the peaceful protesters as thugs and it worked. You all fell for it. I mean, even the Mayor of St. Paul explained what was happening and you all lumped all the looters in together: Mayor Carter says every single person arrested during the protests in Minneapolis on Friday night was from out of state and that while “there’s a group of folks that are sad and mourning” about Floyd, he says, “there seems to be another group that are using Mr. Floyd’s death as a cover to create havoc.”
So what? What about people on the ground? I was forced from my home on Friday and stayed until today June 2, 2020 in a hotel because I was protecting my family. I drove by boarded up businesses. Police have always made me tense, but now? Even more so. I live in a warzone because white supremacists think it’s okay to loot while people are demanding justice. Let me show you what it’s like to be here in Minneapolis:
“Devohn (27): I’m really proud of the Black and Brown youth that have been out there letting their rage be known. They saw Jamar Clark and Philando Castile and so many others be killed by the cops and the cop get away free. They grew up seeing that. But now they’re fed up in a way that is different than those times.”
Amy (21): I’ve been seeing a lot of peaceful demonstrations; the media isn’t covering the mass array of people protesting outside of looting and fires.
Miel: I’ve been at protests like this before, where the police were fully mobilized and retaliating against protests, but this was another level. It felt personal.
Devohn: Folks was getting tear-gassed and shot at while their hands were up. They’re gonna be angry after that and wanna wreck something. If anyone has agitated anyone, it has been the cops agitating the people.
Brandon: My girlfriend got hit in her backside with a rubber bullet. They just jumped out and started shooting without warning. Tear gas was all over the city. The police are jamming all live feeds, which actually made everyone communicate with each other even more.
Paige (24): People are misrepresenting these white supremacists as anarchists when, in reality, the anarchists in Minneapolis are doing community defense, mutual aid networks, and medic work. It’s a ploy to divide and conquer the people and stoke fear and mistrust.
Paige: There is a highly organized coalition of people providing jail support to arrested people and a LOT of street medics. This coalition of people are making shields out of street cones and garbage cans and using it to shield medics and shield people who have been knocked unconscious from the rubber bullets. There are all races of leftists/left-leaning people protecting minority-owned small businesses. … We had a coalition of BLM, anarchists, communists, and other lefties — as well as just some concerned citizens who live in the neighborhood — standing guard.
Brandon: I’m proud of our youth through all this. They were the main people on the front lines of the marching. From talking to a lot of them, they all seem to have the same answer: They are fed up! They realize that if this continues to happen, it’s going to be them the police are killing in the future. They are the ones that burned down the police station. Has that ever even happened before?
Brooklynn: This is a fat chapter in the history books no one will ever forget. This proves that white privilege is a thing they just need to be watched; they are like any one of us on the street, just protected with a badge. They chose to be a part of an institution that praises hurting Black people. It’s never been fair. This system was built to oppress, never to build.
I see a lot of white people saying that Martin Luther King, Jr. wouldn’t approve of the riots and the looting for supplies. But his kids have basically laid that to rest on Twitter, but in case you need a refresher:
“In his final book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, originally published in 1967, King wrote that “Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.”
Oh, hi person reading this!
And it’s not just in Minneapolis. Other cities around the country and the world have joined us. But that means the police have also retalitated there too. “The ongoing protests following the killing of George Floyd were caught up in violence again on Saturday, as police all over the country tear-gassed protesters, drove vehicles through crowds, opened fire with nonlethal rounds on journalists or people on their own property, and in at least one instance, pushed over an elderly man who was walking away with a cane.”
In addition: Images from these protests — including protesters dousing their faces with milk in order to temper the sting of the tear gas — underscore not only the intensity of the response, but a major contrast with the lack of force that’s been used in anti-lockdown protests at state capitols around the country, when the protesters were armed white men.
We have a right to assembly as Americans. It’s guaranteed by the First Amendment. But the police are hurting us. PEOPLE ON THEIR PORCHES. My friend in Seattle? They got tear gassed in their apartment. They didn’t even go anywhere and they were attacked by police. If you think it’s okay that the police are doing this, you are so wrong and terrible. Fuck off.
And I’ll tell you right now: Trump is not doing a good job. He declared war on his own citizens. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” is a terrible way to deal with this. Because it’s inherently racist: In 1967, Miami police Chief Walter Headley used the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” during hearings about crime in the Florida city, invoking angry reactions from civil rights leaders, according to a news report at the time. Headley was head of the police force for 20 years and referred to his “get tough” policy on crime during a 1967 news conference as a war on “young hoodlums, from 15 to 21, who have taken advantage of the civil rights campaign. … We don’t mind being accused of police brutality.”
Gross. And to all the older white people who keep telling me what they see on the news? You aren’t living it. The media is editing what you see. They are making it so that the protests look bad when they are peaceful and the police are attacking them, but sure, the protesters are the ones who are bad.
My generation is tired. We’re exhausted. We want change. We don’t need older generations telling us our time will come. I’m 33. My time is here. STEP THE FUCK TO THE SIDE. I’m not waiting until I’m in my 50s to have my time.
Oh and if you start with that black on black crime bullshit, I will screencap it and show all my friends how stupid you are. Because the police are never held accountable. They get a blank check to do what they want.
If violence is a political language, white Americans are native speakers. But black people are also fluent in the act of resistance. Attucks stood up to British tyranny. The numerous slave rebellions led by Gabriel Prosser, Charles Deslondes, and Nat Turner were all attempts to gain freedom with force. Throughout the 20th century, black Americans armed themselves in the face of white mobs and organized protection for their freedom marches. Accordingly, when George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others were killed by police, black people and their allies chose to rise up.
Oh, and antifa isn’t an organization. It stands for anti-fascist. So, if you’re cool with Hitler, you’re a fascist. If you’re not, congratulations, you’re antifa and the President of the United States just classified you as a terrorist. JOIN THE RESISTANCE.
And in case you saw Trump with a bible in front of St. John’s in Washington DC? The Right Rev. Mariann Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, who oversees the church, told The Washington Post that she found out about the visit when it was shown on television and that she was “outraged” by what she saw. She said she “was not given even a courtesy call that they would be clearing with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop, holding a Bible, one that declares that God is love, and when everything he has said and done is to inflame violence.”
So there’s that too.
Oh and calling on the National Guard to take care of the problem via the Insurrection Act? That sets a dangerous precedent as well: The presence of National Guard forces is itself a foreboding development, but paired with the president’s late-night sanctioning of violence it is easy to interpret it as a direct threat to the lives of people rebelling in the name of justice. This presidential proclamation of open season on political dissidents is blood-chilling. He is attempting to frame acts of political rebellion through the lens of criminality, a move that can easily be interpreted as an attempt to justify further state-sanctioned violence against people rising up to protest exactly that — i.e., the government killing people.
Malcolm X said “If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. You pull it all the way out — that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven’t even begun to pull the knife out, much less try and heal the wound. They won’t even admit the knife is there.” Trump, like so many of our leaders before him, has continued this legacy of historical silence on the knife in Black America’s back. Moreover, he seems intent on twisting the knife, on opening this wound further. The knife is very real and what has unfolded in Minneapolis this week is easily discernible as an expression of the pain it continues to cause.
So, before you condemn peaceful protesters, make sure you know the real story. A lot is going on, but if you only get your news from the media? You’re missing the bigger picture. Twitter is probably the best source for protest information if you aren’t in Minneapolis.
When we elected Donald Trump, we elected a political arsonist. The sole consolation of his presidency, in its early years, was that there was surprisingly little dry tinder. The economy hummed along, seemingly imperturbable. We faced few foreign crises. Domestic divisions remained mostly digital. This is not to dismiss real disasters or excuse cruel policies — from children thrown into cages to toxins dumped into our streams to the lethal mismanagement of Hurricane Maria — but it could have been worse.
The pandemic, fed by the Trump administration’s erratic response, has left more than 100,000 Americans dead — more than twice as many lives as we lost in the Vietnam War, and the count keeps rising. The economy is in free fall. The fabric of society has been cut and the federal government has failed to chart a path to a safe future. Then came the murders, one after the other: Ahmaud Arbery, hunted down by gunmen on a truck. George Floyd, pinned to the ground by an armed agent of the state, dying slowly and publicly. Breonna Taylor, gunned down in her home. And now, the protests and riots.
There is blood on the streets, cars mowing through crowds, buildings on fire, bodies being buried, police casually firing on the very people they are sworn to protect. And all of us, trapped at home, seeing things we can’t unsee, forced into the reckoning the country has always sought to delay.
But all is not lost dear reader, because you can help: Don’t normalize police brutality. Put on your mask and go clean up if you live in a city that has experienced destruction at the hands of rioters. Meet your community leaders and ask how you can help. If you’re fortunate enough to still have a job, donate to bail funds for protesters, donate to civil rights groups, or donate to human rights groups.
If you can’t help directly: There are thousands of accounts of what’s happening in peaceful protests across the world; read them. Talk to your black neighbors about how their experience is different from yours. LISTEN. Be an ally. Don’t be silent. We all need to pitch in against police brutality.
This is America.
In case you were wondering.
So, you want to know why Generation Z has stopped caring and why Millenials are suddenly in their thirties? Glad you didn’t ask, but I’m going to explain it to you anyway because you seem to not realize that I am a Millenial and I am in my 30s. Those kids in high school now? Generation Z. My cousin? Generation Alpha.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the generations before the Baby Boomers and explain how generations actually work, then apply that to Generation X to today.
First off, what’s a generational gap? Well, that’s defined as “a difference of opinions between one generation and another regarding beliefs, politics, or values.” You know, like you have different values from your parents.
For example, my parents are capitalists. I am a democratic socialist. I don’t like capitalism and I think that if the government took care of the people, maybe the United States would actually be the greatest country on Earth unlike Sweden who gives paternal leave and takes care of its citizens.
So what are the generations? We have the Lost Generation which is the generation who came of age during World War I. This generation includes Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Eliot, and Gertrude Stein among others.
Then we have the Greatest Generation. They were the main participants of World War II. People like Roger Corman, Bob Barker, Dick Van Dyke, Henry Kissinger, Harry Belfonte, David Oreck, Prince Philip, and Carl Reiner.
The Silent Generation is defined as the generation born during the Great Depression and World War II. They faced economic hardship in their youth and struggled to provide for themselves after the Second World War. They lost their fathers and older siblings in the war. They earned their moniker by not making waves and not taking risks.
Then we come to you, dear Boomer. Baby boomers were born after World War II and through 1964. You were the first generation to grow up with television. You’re associated with the counterculture of the 1960s, the second wave of feminism, and Woodstock. But you became more conservative in the 1980s, despite being an economic powerhouse and being able to make the world a better place for us now.
Generation X was born between 1966 and 1980. They saw more declining birth rates because of Roe v. Wade. They came of age during the crack epidemic and the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. They were also the first to be able to have access to computers in their homes. They are also the major heroes of 9/11 as the first responders entered the Twin Towers while us Millenials were still children.
Millenials, which is people my age (30s), are defined as having been born between 1981 and 1996. We are the ones who have 9/11 etched in our brains as children and let me tell you, seeing those towers smoking while a friend tells you they’ll never see their dad again is as chilling as it sounds. Our unemployment rate was 19% in 2010 when we were just leaving college. We are angry because you dear Boomer, decided to embrace trickle down economics and now we are struggling with life. I’m 33 and still don’t own a house yet. My dad has owned several houses in his lifetime as a Boomer.
We grew up with Internet in the house. We watched our world transform post 9/11 and saw the Great Recession of 2008. Now we live through the COVID-19 crisis and before anyone says anything, we are not the ones ignoring the order. We are the young professionals staying at home and sharing articles to keep our loved ones informed. We are the ones checking on our friends and relatives asking if they need things and if so, we drop them on the porch. We know how to deal with crisis because we have had so many before we reached 35.
And that’s not to say others have not suffered similar travesties. I’m saying that I’m tired of Millenials being lumped in with Generation Z and Generation Alpha. That’s all.
Generation Z was born between 1996 and 2010. They have better prospects such as credit unlike my generation. Gen Zers have also never known a life without the Internet or a computer. I remember what it was like before a computer entered my house. My Gen Zer friends don’t. But they do remember dial up. They don’t remember the 9/11 attacks like us Millenials. They are also more risk adverse than the previous generation.
And while Millenials and Gen Zers both are Internet and social media savvy, Gen Zers have more cyberbullying instances and use Snapchat to socialize (though more social media platforms pop up every so often).
And Generation Alpha are currently children. Born from 2011 onwards, they will reach adulthood by the early 2030s.
Obviously, I have over-generalized here, but now hopefully, you know the difference between the generations that come after you, Boomer. And when we use “Okay, Boomer” as a dismissal, it’s most probably because you are lumping us into a generation we are not a part of.
Hi, my name is Jess and I am a millennial. I was born at the tail end of the 80s, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, but after the Challenger explosion. I was raised middle class and don’t really feel a sense of entitlement. Not because I don’t think I’m entitled, but because I think the older generations don’t know the difference between what is earned and what is a right.
Now before you go running to every newspaper and say “She said this and that and the third”, your generation has told me that I’m responsible for killing things like Applebees, diamonds, oil, honeymoons, bar soap, golf, and whatever else keeps you up at night.
Look, some of those things are practical: diamonds are usually bloody unless lab-created, oil isn’t going to last forever, and as much as some of my family likes golf (my late grandfather included), it’s probably the least exciting sport that isn’t driving around in circles for 5 hours.
My point is I don’t feel a sense of entitlement, I just want a better life than my parents? You know, the American Dream™? Is it so much to ask to be able to afford college (I still owe $116K and that’s WITH scholarships and grants), to be able to buy a house when I was 30 (my parents bought a house when I was 16, my parents were 37 and 39 respectively), and have rights not being threatened (Roe v. Wade and LGBTQ+ rights come to mind).
I’m upset that you just lump us in as the “Me me me generation” and tell me that I’m not good enough. I should not be worrying about my finances at this age (I’m currently 32 and no way NEAR paying off my debts to college or otherwise). I should be thinking about a house or where to go on my honeymoon or who I should invite to my wedding (the answer to that is like 5 people including my dad and my stepmom).
I don’t want to have a huge wedding because that’s money I can use as a 20% down on a mortgage. That’s money I could invest in retirement or my own business. There are so many things I could do with $40000 that I could not list how may things that would be.
But yes, I’m somehow entitled because I wish to be more frugal and pay off my debts before I’m old as hell and pushing 75. I shouldn’t have to hear of my friends who have lots of experience and degrees only earning $13/hr. That’s not entitlement, that’s wanting a wage that moves with inflation.
That’s basic economics. In my neck of the woods, here’s what the living wage: $19.81 for two adults with only one working. I don’t know about you, but that math which is from MIT is kind of not okay. Is it entitlement to ask to be able to buy what my parents did at my age?
And before you say this is my complaining, I’m not. I’m just pointing out the flaw in your logic with my three degrees and $116K in debt. And not for nothing, but why are we the only Western country without healthcare for our citizens? INSURANCE COMPANIES.
I wouldn’t mind paying slightly higher taxes if that means more infrastructure. Some the happiest countries in the world (like Scandinavia) have some cool things like healthcare and paternity/maternity leave. You know, things that would benefit us and make us more productive?
I’m not trying to be that guy, but when someone screams entitlement at me now? I kind of raise my eyebrows and ask “What in the hell are you talking about?”
I’m going to talk to you all about representation in media. Yeah, I know. But Black Panther, Get Out, Moonlight, Bridesmaids, and a bunch of other movies exist, Jess. True, but it’s really only the start of representation in media. Let me show you what I mean:
I mean blackface was a whole thing that existed and if you want to see how I feel about that, Rap Critic and I did a crossover on The Jazz Singer under my previous show before I started only doing “Superhero Rundown.”
Not just blackface, as late as today, there has been trans erasure (45 banning transgender people in the military), bi erasure (Hi, Bohemian Rhapsody), disabled erasure (to my knowledge Mr. Eddie Redmayne is not disabled like the late Mr. Stephen Hawking), and a variety of other negative portrayals. There’s Muslims as terrorists when not all Muslims are terrorists, just to name one.
Okay, so what about it? What’s so important about representation in media? Well, numbers don’t lie. Black Panther made a billion dollars in less than a month because black people were like “That’s me, that could be me!” One of the reasons representation is so important is because there are more than white dudes on the planet: there are black people, Asians, women, Muslims, Indians (from India), Native Americans, among other minority groups and it kind of sucks that they have not had the representation they deserve.
For fuck’s sake, Wonder Woman didn’t even get her own movie until 76 years AFTER her inception and we’ve seen Superman and Batman rebooted more times than a drunk girl giving out her phone number to frat boys at a party.
So, I’m going to pull the “What about the children?” card. If film roles continue to be whitewashed, children will keep developing unhealthy conceptions of racial equality. But if kids see more positive and empowering depictions of POC – especially in film and television – it will undoubtedly begin to have a powerful affect, as many celebrities have attested to. And that’s part of the problem. We don’t have good representations of anyone but white people. Women to a degree are infantile or given the damsel in distress role and most people of color unless a movie made with them at the fore is dedicated to killing those people of color or making them out to be less than human.
We are an ever-changing society; our entertainment industry should continue to represent that. There are children who watch these TV shows and movies and look for someone they can relate to. Think about it. Why do you enjoy the shows you watch? Compelling plot? Sure. How do you feel about the characters? I’m sure you probably enjoy them, but are there any you feel particularly drawn to? So, shouldn’t we make media to reflect our society?
What’s this got to do with Black Panther? And then Black Panther—with its virtually all-black cast, fantastic representation of strong women, African setting, and nuanced characters and storylines—happened. For a brief two hours, our superhero is T’Challa, an African king hailing from a technologically advanced country who uses his superhuman strength to protect his people and their way of life. He’s surrounded by fierce women, including Shuri, his brilliant engineer/princess little sister; Okoye, the general who’s loyal to her country but is also someone’s beloved; and Nakia, the love of his life, a humanitarian, and a spy.
To go farther than that, there’s a different reason that representation matters. Audiences—especially those with little exposure to those outside of their community—typically equate these limited, and harsh, media representations with the real world. That, in turn, can lead to “less attention from doctors to harsher sentencing by judges, lower likelihood of being hired for a job or admitted to school, lower odds of getting loans, and a higher likelihood of being shot by police,” the authors write.
So, it’s not just about getting minorities into film and television. It’s about changing the perspective of the audience. Specifically, the white audience. Though to be fair, some of the films mentioned above were not made for white people by any stretch of the imagination.
And it doesn’t just hurt audiences. It hurts the actors: As a minority, breaking into an industry where white people star in almost three-quarters of the movies produced is an arduous endeavour. As experiences of other groups fall by the wayside in the face of white protagonists, Hollywood silences their important voices from being heard and their stories from being seen. As a result, movies exist in a skewed version of the world that fails to truly reflect its diversity. In addition, exposing audiences to different cultures and heritages makes P.O.C feel more accepted and strengthens their belonging in a community.
And a lot of the time, they played stereotypes. But despite the strides in this department, we aren’t exactly going fast enough. There are so many white people movies, it’s ridiculous. Slowly, the film industry has acknowledged its institutionalized sexism and is making strides to be more inclusive. The Marvel movie franchise included a powerful scene in 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame,” featuring all of the franchise’s women standing together, ready to save the world. And don’t even get me started as to why “all of the franchise’s women standing together” is fucking straight up wrong.
And so far, I’ve only been talking about in front of the screen. What about the writers? Directors? Best Boys? Film Criticism? Producers? Like why is only Ryan Coogler and Jordan Peele the only names that come to mind for directors respectively? I mean there are definitely other people of color that do these roles, but they aren’t as prevalent as white guys.
So, my fellow white guys do me a favor and read this quote over and over again until you get it in your brains: The beauty of television and movies is that there are so many to choose from. If you are an individual who gets “offended” by a race-bent character or a person of color lead, an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) character or plot line, or even a show or movie with a dominant and strong female lead, change the channel or skip the movie. Bashing it online or complaining about it in public gets you nowhere. These characters are doing so much for individuals who identify with them. Recognize the privilege you were born with and understand some people aren’t lucky enough to always have representation in television or movies.
Okay, so what about queer people or disabled people? The same thing applies. If you aren’t disabled, cast a disabled actor. If you aren’t queer, don’t take a queer role. Why is this so difficult for people to grasp?
Anyway, in conclusion, do not get me started on whitewashing. I’m serious. Don’t fucking do it, Scarlett.
So, I don’t know if I’ve made this clear, but I am not a supporter of capitalism with the 1% having everything and the rest of us kind of living paycheck to paycheck. I’m sure Theodore Roosevelt would be rolling around in his grave if he knew the extent of Disney’s holdings.
Before we get to the Mouse, however, let’s define the monopoly and what holdings Disney actually has, then we’ll talk about the Fox merger, the Spider-man thing, and how the Mouse seems to also pretty much be cool with Star Wars and Marvel doing their own thing.
A Monopoly (from the Greek) exists when an enterprise (or person) is the only supplier of a particular commodity (in this case, entertainment, though we do have some other media conglomerates currently). They are characterized by a lack of economic competition to produce a good or service, a lack of viable substitue goods, and the possibility of a high price that leads to a high profit.
So let’s look at this logically: Disney doesn’t really have competition or a spending rival so to speak, as it appears in the media. They bought Fox straight up and the juggernaut of Star Wars and Marvel are also under the umbrella. Of course, they always had the Disney princess lineup and their films, but this seems a bit more than the classic Walt Disney I grew up.
Here’s where it gets interesting: In many jurisdictions, competition laws restrict monopolies (hi Teddy Roosevelt!), but holding a dominant position or a monopoly in a market is often not illegal in itself. BUT there are certain categories of behavior that can be considered abusive and can incur legal sanctions when a business is dominant. (Which we have yet to see and as the Senate is vastly pro-corporation, it’s doubtful to happen in this election cycle.)
Now, what are Disney’s holdings: Well, we have Walt Disney Pictures, ABC, Fx, Freeform, National Geographic, Marvel Studios, Star Wars, Disney Parks (Including Disneyland, Disney World, and EuroDisney among others), D23 (their exhibition every year), Fox Searchlight Pictures, Pixar, Blue Sky Studios, Lucas Film (including Industrial Light & Magic), LucasArts, Skywalker Sound, Buena Vista Theatres, Disney Music Publishing, Hollywood Records, Walt Disney Records, Disney Theatrical Productions, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Radio Disney, It’s a Laugh Productions, ESPN, A&E Networks, Lifetime (yeah, Disney owns your mom’s soul too), The History Channel, The Disney Store, Disney Magazine, Disney Cruise Line, Disney+ (coming in November), ESPN+, Hulu, Oh My Disney, several international channels in various countries, Marvel Comics, Marvel Animation, Disney Legends, and that’s only naming a small fraction of the holdings. There’s a bunch of holdings they have that I’m not even sure what they are or what they do.
So like I said, Disney owns a lot. So, my friend Leon who runs Renegade Cut, a video essay series on YouTube, summed up the Spider-man deal here:
Side note: I have not seen Venom or Spider-man: Far From Home.
Other side note: Good on Sony for not being strong armed by Disney. Come at me, haters.
And yes, I know the fanboys are all like “But Spider-man should be in the MCU still and Sony sucks.” Yeah, well, unless you’re sitting at the negotiating table? Slow your roll there, Chad.
Disney owns about 36% of the entertainment industry which is a LOT. And as this is very close to the ten year aniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe being a Disney entity, I figured it would be worth mentioning exactly why people think it’s a monopoly, which Leon pretty much summed up extraordinarily above.
But that doesn’t mean, I have nothing to say. According to The Verge, Disney has had the most successful year of any movie studio ever with 7.67 billion dollars in the first SEVEN MONTHS of 2019.
I mean, it’s okay that Disney now owns the Fantastic Four and the X-Men for Marvel again? But is it really worth it for them to be our corporate entertainment overlords just so we can get a decent Doctor Doom who’s not a whiny so-and-so?
I mean, I don’t exactly see how it’s good that they are gobbling up everything, but hey, I only have a degree in superheroes right? I mean IndieWire has discussed that Fox Searchlight Pictures can become New Line Cinema which would be a good route for it to go, but as far as that goes, we’ll have to play the time game.
But Disney isn’t all bad: I mean, it’s a huge part of my childhood. Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and a few others basically are my nostalgia trip. And Disney + looks promising with new shows and vaulted stuff coming. The packaging of Hulu, ESPN, and Disney + doesn’t hurt either as I already have Hulu, I want to watch hockey, and I would like to see some of the Disney Channel original movies again. I mean: “At launch, Disney+ will have more than 500 feature films and over 7,500 show episodes, including Disney’s entire movie library and its full Pixar and The Simpsons catalogues.” So, it’s going to basically be Netflix, but better because Disney? They keep touting quality over quantity, but we’ll see about that.
Don’t get me wrong, Moon Knight, The Mandalorian, and freaking Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) all look amazing, but they are part of an empire that keeps expanding under Iger.
I will say though that Snow White is still awesome for helping that autistic boy.
Look, the Mouse is in our lives now, but that doesn’t mean we should just give up and love the monopoly. Teddy Roosevelt is so disappointed in the fanboys of the MCU right now, you guys. Just so disappointed.
I’m of two minds on this: Obviously speculation can be a good thing because it motivates fans to have their drive for their favorite hero/villain/franchise. It drives fanart like the one of David Tennant as the Riddler and such.
There are some media outlets who like to sensationalize speculation to the point where some people question if it’s real. I’m obviously aware of the people who need to sell advertising space on the Internet and such. But I’m talking about headlines like “David Tennant as the Riddler” and then you click on it and it’s a speculation piece.
Then there’s the speculation about the Marvel Cinematic Universe and while I’m all for that (again it drives the conversation), Marvel is a lot better about reigning it in as far as speculation is concerned.
Most of the time, Kevin Feige is pretty quick to shoot down any speculation. Now I understand that once a movie is released, some speculation is to be had. Such as when everyone was debating what timeline that Captain America was in before he gave up the mantle. (I was right about that by the way. YAY TIME TRAVEL.)
But to sensationalize the speculation before news is announced is incredibly misleading. It’s part of the reason I don’t give credence to specific articles until they are confirmed by the director, the head of MCU, or by the actors themselves.
With Crisis on Infinite Earths coming to the Arrowverse soon, I have noticed the ramping up of speculation of who’s going to be in it, even outside of the trailer. I like speculation, but maybe news outlets should frame it as such?
Okay, it’s time to talk San Diego Comic-Con superhero news and I’m sorry, Picard was the best announcement at the whole con for me. Sorry, that’s just my opinion. Especially since it looks like Santiago Cabrera (of BBC Musketeers’ Amaris fame) is involved.
Marvel and DC didn’t have a bad showing either.
Let’s start with DC because Crisis on Infinite Earths is happening as the big crossover this year. I like that they are suiting up Brandon Routh as Kingdom Come Superman. I can’t wait to see him interact with Tyler’s Superman from Supergirl. It’s going to be great.
And they confirmed that all the shows are part of the Arrowverse, so shut up:
Arrow: Final season for the show. I’ll miss it especially since I just did an episode on Season 2 that’s waiting to be released, but at least I can catch up now? I am digging the logo though for the final season. It looks great. I also like the mix of some of the previous seasons and the glimpse of Ruby Rose as Batwoman in there. Bravo!
Batwoman: I like that right of the bat (pun intended), Batman seems to have abandoned Gotham. “I’m not about to let a man take credit for a woman’s work.” OH MY GOD, I have a mighty need. I can’t wait to see how this series takes off, especially with Arrow ending.
Black Lightning: I love this show with a fiery passion. Tobias is still around, but I still like that the show is focusing on the family. I also like the rules that Jefferson has set down: don’t reveal your identity, don’t go it alone, and don’t kill. Can’t wait for this season
Flash: Oh, goddammit, Barry. What is going on this time? Bloodwork. OH NO. But it has apparently been teased that there will be a Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis villain. I’m all for Goddammit, Barry as it is my favorite of the Arrowverse shows, but goddammit, Barry, what have you gotten yourself into this time?
Legends of Tomorrow: I’m still salty about Captain Cold, but I have high hopes for how well this show is doing.
Supergirl: The technology addiction angle is a good way to go and I like the motivation of Lena Luther. Also, always nice to see Lex. (He’s still better than the current President, fight me.)
Watchmen: Okay, I’m intrigued, but not much else. The trailer is interesting and Regina King as the main character is nice, but I don’t have much else to go on.
Doom Patrol and Titans: Haven’t watched them yet, but I hope to at some point in the near future.
DC Movies: The promo art for Birds of Prey looks good and James Gunn has confirmed he’s finishing Suicide Squad before he goes to Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Which brings to the MCU.
Eternals: Female director, all star cast including people of color. I’m not entirely sure if I’m on board with the story, but I will wait for a trailer before I say anything more.
The Falcon & Winter Soldier: Glad they have the Cap shield in there and that Zemo is coming back as a villain. The dynamic between these guys is hilarious and I cannot wait for more.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: I’m glad Marvel Studios has decided to get freaky with Phase 4 and try out some new things. Can’t wait.
WandaVision: Looks interesting, especially with Maria Rambeau in there, but I’m still unsure how that’s going down since Vision is dead.
Loki: Great that Tom Hiddleston is still going to be Loki. That logo could use some work though.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: Together with Scarlet Witch, huh? That looks pretty damn fun and if it’s a horror movie? All the better.
What if…?: Though animated, it looks like a ton of fun. I won’t be covering it on Superhero Rundown as per my strict live-action media rule, buuuuttt, I might tweet about it when I finally see it.
Hawkeye: Kate Bishop? HELL YES. I’m in.
Thor Love and Thunder: Tessa and Chris are back and Natalie Portman is wielding the hammer as Thor. I’m excited especially since Tessa has said the King of Asgard needs a queen. Also Watiti is back, so I’m here for it. Ragnorok was great and I am certain this one will be good too.
Black Widow: I’m on the fence about this. I would rather a new character introduction, but I know that a lot of people were clamoring for this.
Blade: Mahershala Ali is our Blade. I’m stoked. I don’t like that it seems they are leaving the Netflix shows behind because Jessica Jones, Kingpin, Daredevil, Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, Luke Cage, Night Nurse, Madame Gao, and Colleen Wing were PERFECTLY cast. But whatever.
Successful announcements all around. I’m stoked for a lot of this. I’m glad that some things are happening and disappointed about some others, but I’ll take this as a win for DCTV and the MCU.
I’m going to preface this post with a number of things: First, this post took me three weeks to write because I’m still reeling from a number of personal things. Second, in order to understand waht I’m writing about I have to discuss Batman v. Superman (which I hated for the most part) and Wonder Woman (which I loved for the most part) and not mention Suicide Squad or Man of Steel (if I can at all help it). Finally, the last preface is: THIS WILL BE A LOOOOONNNNNGGGGGGGG post. But if you make it all the way to the end, I hope you’ll leave constructive analysis in the comments or something.
In order to understand the title, we need to understand what went wrong with Batman v. Superman. And there are a million thinkpieces about it, but so far Moviebob’s analysis on Youtube here has been the most thorough and as of this writing Part III has yet to come out. But the first 3 HOURS of the analysis are well worth watching as you see the breakdown in narrative structure and he made me rethink some of the things I actually liked about the film (I.E. Wonder Woman).
I’m not going to rehash it all here, but his analysis is thought-provoking to say the least and I am extremely impressed with the amount of time, energy, and content. So what went wrong with Batman v. Superman? Well, the concept on paper is interesting: having a vigilante in Gotham not like a Jesus-like figure from Metropolis sounds like a good idea if the reasoning is good, but spoiler: it wasn’t a good reason (Martha indeed) and the movie fell flat on its face in terms of narrative structure and overall tone (which was DARK). Zack Snyder has remade Watchmen like 5 times now and I want a DIFFERENT thing.
Okay, so fast forward to Wonder Woman in Batman v. Superman: firstly, though she loosely held the plot together and showed up at the end to help our titular characters, did she have any other role in the film? Not really, other than to set up her own titular movie.
Which was good for the most part. Ares, my god, man. SHAVE YOUR MUSTACHE. But I digress: The point here is that Wonder Woman was a movie that many of my friends wanted and though they had problems with the villain, it was a movie that we could very easily see what Wonder Woman stood for. Also, that No Man’s Land scene was amazing and so was the village fight scene and I will fight you. Importantly, it was the film leading up to Justice League.
Justice League. THERE ARE SPOILERS STARTING HERE.
There were a lot of things in the structure that could have made sense had it been Darkseid, but you know what? It worked for me. I liked that they brought in the New Gods (even though it was a throwaway, but the mere fact that they exist in the DCEU is good enough for me). I liked that they had Superman fight the Justice League, even if the way they brought him back was dumb. I liked that Aquaman was at least fun. I didn’t like Flash, I wish they had gotten Grant Gustin, united the universes and had a bunch of cool stuff happen, but you know what? For what Justice League was? It was a step in the right direction.
Did it help that Joss Whedon stepped in to help with reshoots? Yeah. But honestly, it does feel like an apology for Batman v. Superman and I wish other people would realize it, even if it blatantly ripped off Marvel, but that’s a ball of wax that I will not be getting into here. Maybe soon, but not here.
Justice League had a good concept going with the motherboxes, even if I wish that Cyborg was a fourth one, but on paper the concept sounds great: New God from space comes to Earth, steals a bunch of shit, outpowers all the superheroes, so the heroes band together and use magicky science to bring back Jesus after he died saving the world. Jesus gets muddled and fights the team until his lover shows up and he takes off leaving the rest of the team to fight the New God from space until the final act where he actually SAVES CIVILIANS INSTEAD OF CAUSING COLLATERAL DAMAGE (looking at you Man of Steel) and helps the team beat the New God from space and they agree to be a team when the need arises again.
SOLID foundation of a concept. Was it poorly executed? Yeah. But it was colorful (at least more colorful than Batman v. Superman) and it was somewhat fun. Though Wonder Woman and Superman match each other’s strength, so…
But I digress. Justice League was okay. It was a good step, but not much more than that. Though I did genuinely laugh at a few of the one liners. Specifically, “I’m rich” and the pay off that came with it at the end of the film with Martha getting her farm back.
So where does the DCEU go from here? Hopefully up, but if it doesn’t, maybe using Justice League as a template and improving it wouldn’t be the worst thing.
First of all, this is not meant to inform you why life is complicated. It was a catchy title and it was a third thing to help make life LESS complicated for me. That being said, you’re in for a wild ride today reader, because we’re getting into the nitty gritty of cultural studies, intersectionality, and other such buzzwords that helped me through graduate school. (Thanks, Amy and Michael).
So first off, Film Crit Hulk, the Incredible Hulk guy who runs around critiquing film and culture recently wrote a rather long essay on Intersectionality which you can read here. I warn you though, when I say long, I mean LONNNNNNGGGGGGGGG. In the article, he explains about his background of being a “doofy white guy” when he isn’t “Dr. Banner” and what the word intersectionality means.
So what exactly does it mean? Well, let’s go to Google and find out how close they actually are for the purposes of this small chunk of an essay: “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.”
Not a bad definition and pretty close to the definition I usually use. Okay, so we know what intersectionality is, we know who Film Crit Hulk is, and for the sake of argument I will assume you know who Joss Whedon is and what Wonder Woman and Game of Thrones are as well as what fanboys are and why they are pissed off a lot of the time. If you don’t, congratulations, you are pure and need to get off the Internet immediately.
Film Crit Hulk, or as I’ll refer to him from this point on, Hulk, explains that there was a Wonder Woman script that Joss Whedon wrote a number of years ago that pissed off quite a few people. As most people know, Joss Whedon made Disney a literal billion dollars with The Avengers and wrote Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So what’s the problem? Surely he knows how to write women?
Well, people got angry and it turned into a large discussion about his entire career and of course Whedon gave young people a connection to Buffy whether they be women, progressives, or LGBT, BUTTTTTTTTTTT. Joss Whedon is also a human being like you and I. Because of that he only knows what he’s told about the female experience, because he is not one. He may be a feminist, but I’m sure we can agree he’s never been catcalled for wearing a short skirt in New York City at 10am when you’re on your way to your day job. Guess who has? *raises hand*
Why is this important? Well, it brings us back to intersectionality. Joss Whedon is a male who I imagine is well off financially. I, am a female bisexual thirty year old who just got out of graduate school and am in debt. I can speak to that experience better than Joss Whedon can.
So fanboys were mad about Joss Whedon and Hulk made an excellent point: “Think about it. When you’re angry, your anger makes complete sense, right? Whether you are angry at Trump or Libtards or the pop culture moron du jour, there’s nothing ever wrong with your anger. But for women, POC, LGBT, and marginalized groups? Maybe they’re angry because the entire system around them is laughable. Maybe it’s because they have a universe of dire issues to be angry about. Maybe it’s because we talk about not believing what our country did last election, and yet 94% of black women voted for Hilary against Trump. Maybe it’s because white liberal folks talk about how they fear one day living in a police state, but black people have been living in a police state for centuries now (and worse). Heck, given our backgrounds and sliding sense of justice, if white people were immediately put into the world that black people had to live in, we would be grabbing a brick in two seconds, without the realization of the oppression that comes next. Because when that happened in Ferguson, white America shrugged and wondered why it couldn’t be like the MLK days…”
Now I have read the Joss Whedon Wonder Woman script and I’m extremely grateful we got the Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman script we got instead. Hulk explains “Which is perhaps the biggest reason for we needed Patty Jenkin’s Wonder Woman script over Joss Whedon’s old one. It’s because her perspective and positivity was sorely needed, especially in this current landscape.” It’s not a perfect movie, but I only consider one movie in existence to be the perfect movie in terms of many monikers and that filmmaker is dead.
But let’s be real: the criticism of the Joss Whedon script is on the system and if you claim to be an ally, what you can do to make it better. Joss Whedon is a white dude, if he was really an ally he would let a woman write Batgirl, a black man write Cyborg in the Justice League reshoots, etc. He can write Batman, Superman, and even Flash.
This brings me to my second example. So for those of you who love Game of Thrones (Team Tyrion and Drogon forever, I don’t care), the showrunners announced that after they finish Game of Thrones, they’re going to be doing Confederate, a setting in which the South apparently won the Civil War.
Someone is going to tell me “Wait for a trailer before you judge it!” But honestly? I date a black man. You really think that me waiting for a trailer is going to make me more sympathic to a system that until the 1960s told my boyfriend and others of his skin color they had to have separate water fountains, lunch counters, the back of the bus, and separate bathrooms because racism. And still systematic kills black people because the police get away with it most of the time. If you had any idea how difficult it was for a black man in America, maybe you wouldn’t “Wait for a trailer before you judge it.”
I’m saying that I’m not giving a series called CONFEDERATE the freakin’ benefit of the doubt because there’s no trailers. Don’t feed a show that will show oppression of black individuals that isn’t written by black Americans. For that, I’ll watch Jordan Peele’s Get Out.