What I learned at New York Comic Con.

I’ve fallen out of love with comics. No, wait. That’s not true. There are comics that I absolutely adore. How shall I put this? I’ve learned that comics are no longer special to me. I love comics like I love books and video games and television. The product? Yes, please. The culture surrounding the product? I just don’t care anymore.

Trust me, this is not one of those elitist posts where I tell you that I’ve matured beyond what pleases the geeks. I hate posts like that. I’m very much still a geek. Honestly? I’m a little saddened by the fact that I don’t care.

I truly have no one to blame but myself. I went out of my way to distance myself. I was deeply upset by recent whitewashing issues and I felt that if I wasn’t so invested in the characters I wouldn’t be as upset by it. And, lo and behold, I was right. I do smirk when I think about it now. Honestly, it is a wee bit funny when entertainment companies pull this kind of stuff—and they always do. Tell me you didn’t laugh when you saw the pictures of the original Avatar: The Last Airbender movie cast. And Misty’s decrease in melanin was simply the Marvel equivalent of Power Girl’s expanding breasts.

However, the whole thing snowballed somehow. I stopped buying the books and decided to read them casually. Then I stopped reading them casually and decided to keep up via Scans Daily. Then I stopped visiting Scans Daily and decided to simply check The Beat and Journalista.

And now here we are—at the point where I’ve skipped out on 75 percent of a convention that I paid fifty dollars to attend so that I can play Grand Theft Auto IV until two in the morning—a convention that I only went to in order to hang out with friends and see a Venture Bros. panel. This would have been insane behavior to me a year ago.

Long story short, I stopped caring so that I wouldn’t get hurt. It worked. It worked so well that I have no idea how to undo it. I’ve tried. I’d like to. I feel guilty about not caring. I feel like I’ve let people down. I should be posting. I should be blogging about the offensive mess that Avatar: The Last Airbender is bound to be. I’m not. I feel bad about that. And I’m not really sure what to do about it, but I did feel as if I owed the two or three people who still visit this site an explanation.

So here we are.



Yes, Virginia. There is a writing ghetto.

“What I think is also interesting is when we’re hiring writers for the show we send out a call for writers. They only sent us white writers. It wasn’t that I could tell from the writing, it was when we started meeting people, I kept thinking, ‘Where are the writers of color?’ And then when I called the agents and said, ‘[Where] are the writers of color?,’ they said, ‘Oh, you want writers of color!’ which they put in a separate category, which I find very disturbing. And I’m going to work to do what I can to make that change, and I think all the writers out there should be calling their agents and sort of demanding that you don’t segregate us based on a category in that sense.”

Shonda Rhimes

The above quote from Shonda Rhimes is frustrating. It’s doubly frustrating for women of color because it seems as though that which involves race remains dominated by male voices and that which deals with gender remains dominated by voices that are generally female and white. And so you must fight simply to make others aware of your existence. You must fight to be considered for that small selection of projects “reserved” for minority writers—projects that aren’t really reserved for minority writers at all if a notable writer who is white and male desires them; projects that aren’t really reserved for women writers of color because they aren’t the writers who come to mind when an editor or a director is even considering hiring a minority writer in the first place.

It’s a problem. And I don’t have the foggiest notion as to how to help solve that problem outside of the comics genre. In comics, if you can draw, you simply create your own project. You don’t need Marvel or DC. You need a pen, a sheet of paper, a scanner, and a story. But what about that woman who has a brilliant idea for a television series? Or a video game? Or a movie?

How can I make equal access to job opportunities a reality instead of mere lip service? As a consumer, how can I help to change things? I’ve written letters to producers and network executives stressing the importance of diversity, but I wouldn’t be surprised if those letters were never even read. I feel impotent.



Bale bonds.

“My whole thing is that that I saw The Dark Knight. I feel like I’m dumb because I feel like I don’t get how many things that are so smart. It’s like a Ferrari engine of storytelling and script writing and I’m like, ‘That’s not my idea of what I want to see in a movie.’ I loved The Prestige but didn’t understand The Dark Knight. Didn’t get it, still can’t tell you what happened in the movie, what happened to the character and in the end they need him to be a bad guy. I’m like, ‘I get it. This is so high brow and so f–king smart, I clearly need a college education to understand this movie.’ You know what? Fuck DC comics. That’s all I have to say and that’s where I’m really coming from.”

Robert Downey Jr.

You sound a bit salty, Robert.



What am I supposed to do?

Long ago, when I was much younger than I am today, my aunt purchased a VHS tape of cartoons for the children in my family to watch. She quickly removed the plastic wrapper, slammed the cassette into the VCR, and promptly left the room in order to tackle the long list of chores she had that day. My cousins were toddlers. I was a small child.

I’m sure that my aunt believed that what she had set us down in front of was harmless. And it initially was. My cousins and I laughed at silly cartoons of goofy animals. The images were dated, but still quite funny. And watching them made me feel good.

Somewhere around the middle of the tape, the images changed. The animals vanished. There were no longer quick-witted bunnies or dim-witted pigs. There were black people—black people who were designed to look like animals. Gargantuan lips, inhuman noses, blue-black skin, images based on caricatures designed to ridicule the features of black people—these images I saw before me. I cried. I actually cried until I made myself physically ill, but I wouldn’t tell anyone what was wrong.

A few days later I approached my mother and told her that I didn’t want to be ugly anymore. I told her that I wanted to be white. My mother looked at me and smiled. She told me if I waited in the bedroom for her that she would make me white. I waited, and after a few moments she entered with a bottle of lotion. She spread the lotion out in a thick layer on my legs as if she was icing a cake. My chocolate brown skin began to slip from view. She stopped after a few moments and looked at me.

“Doesn’t that look silly?”

I nodded as she bent over to wipe the lotion from my legs.

“See? You’re not supposed to be white! You’re exactly how God made you to be. You understand?”

I understood perfectly. God meant for me to be black. He meant for me to be ugly—because that’s what the images I had seen had taught me to believe.

I’m actually terrified to have kids. It’s inevitable that my children are going to come across the same type of caricatures that I did as a child. Why? Because comic and cartoon fandoms cling to these caricatures and cherish them. They create new ones based upon the older incarnations. They place these images above the basic human dignity of black people. They tell black people that nostalgia is more important than their humanity. What am I going to tell my child when he or she comes across these images? How am I going to rebuild his or her spirit when the images break it? Because my mother’s initial approach? Did not work. And fandom simply isn’t going to let these images go. They don’t respect us enough to do so.

So, what am I supposed to do?



Why is TV so white?

It’s because the writers are!A link to the Entertainment Weekly article has popped up in nearly every online community I belong to. Stop. Just stop. The answer is obvious and since no one in a position of power is concerned about doing what is necessary to actually change things, there is absolutely no point in bringing the topic up.



Truth.

If I have to read one more post from a black guy lamenting the fact that Halle Berry is not starring in Wanted, I am going to walk away from comics forever. Bonus points if the guy has another post complaining about Azzarello’s Cage miniseries or why black female characters don’t date black male characters with no mention of the marriages of Luke Cage and Jackson King. Additional points may be added if there’s a complaint about people wasting time on an unimportant issue such as the whitewashing of black female characters in comics when they should be focusing on the apparently vital topic of how black male mutants are treated in the Marvel universe.



Nah, kid.

Complaining about Angelina Jolie getting the role of The Fox over a minority actress is like demanding the return of BET: Uncut because there just aren’t enough black women on television. Can someone point me to a black woman who actually read Wanted and still wanted a black woman in the role of the Fox? Who didn’t feel like she was being served one big Jezebel stereotype with some Sapphire on the side? Yes, there are black men who enjoyed the series, but hell, I know black men who think “Oochie Wally” is a damn fine song and video. I’m not saying there aren’t any black women who enjoyed Wanted, I just haven’t found any yet. I wanted to do cartwheels when I found out Angelina won the role.



You know the thing that irritates me?

After all the apologizing and handwringing is done, we still don’t have a voice. Not really. Men of color are still sought out for their thoughts and opinions concerning race. White women are still looked to for thoughts and opinions concerning gender issues. And those of us sitting in the border zones can only hope that they do a good job speaking for us. Because our stories and our needs and our fears and our dreams are only really listened to through the filter of someone who is not us.

And all I can think to do is shout loud enough in the hopes that someone more press or camera friendly (male or white) will take my words and carry them to a place that matters; a place where they can truly be heard and have an impact. I have allies willing to do that for me. However, that is not the norm. Many of us sit here in silence—or even worse, watch as our words are robbed of their meaning or twisted against us so someone can cash a check.



Huh.

You know what’s funny about the whole whitewashing kerfluffle involving minority female characters in comics? The men who popped up to complain that real issues weren’t being discussed and then pulled out a list of affronts to male minority characters.

Are those affronts important to talk about? Yes! Which is why I don’t go piling into threads to tell those guys to quiet down when they bring them up. I wish they’d bring these issues of importance up more often. However, female readers did not receive the same courtesy when trying to address the topics of whitewashing and colorism in comics—a topic that pretty much only affects female minority characters. I think it’s significant to note. Why is this important to talk about?

That’s why. Your sisters and daughters and wives are being told that they aren’t good enough the way that they are. There’s something wrong with the color of their skin. The shape of their eyes is displeasing. Their faces are too flat. Their hair is too kinky. The things that physically mark them as minority women also mark them as undesirable. Unfeminine. That’s the message that’s being sent when skin colors are lightened and features are changed. On purpose? I highly doubt that. But does the reason matter when the result is that your child or your girlfriend feels that she’s less than someone else because that heroine looks less and less like her the more popular the character gets?



Ah, fandom. You so crazy!

As a black woman, I apologize for the fact that strong women of other minority groups aren’t represented in the media. Because, like everything else bad in the free world, this is the fault of black people. Even though there is a dearth of black women writers in film, television, comics, and gaming. And it has nothing to do with black women not being seen as feminine or desirable for centuries so that they are stuffed into roles such as the tough warrior or the feisty best friend instead of the damsel in distress. Nope. Not at all. Black people, what is wrong with you? How come you are the only race with members who feel that they are the only ones misrepresented, underrepresented, or important? No one else feels that way or expresses those feelings. Shame on you, black people! Shame! You must be called out! You are taking up far too much time and attention.

Okay, let me stop being goofy! But really, posts such as the one above from FandomSecrets are why I don’t interact with most of fandom. No loss for either side though.



So long, Sona!

Please tell me that someone else saw The New Adventures of Young Batman last night! For those of you who don’t know, The New Adventures of Young Batman is also known as Prison Break. Something amazing happened last night. The plot advanced! I know! It’s crazy! Leave this post right now before you are spoiled!

Dudes, it is on and poppin’. The alphabet boys came and snatched Mahone up and put him on the snitching fast track plan. The only problem? Mahone is tweaking like mad. They have him holed up in a hotel room while they try to lock a deal in place for him. Let me tell you right now, Mahone is about to break. My prediction is that he just starts wrecking shop, knocks out the two guarding him, and flees. My other prediction? One of the agents guarding him is actually with the Company. We’ll see if I’m right next week.

Linc and Sucre are still the smoking hot morons they’ve always been. They can’t get LJ away from three Company goons who can’t even shoot straight? Personally, I hope LJ dies. He’s annoying. Linc can have another kid. Preferably one that is the result of sex with Sofia. Oh, and Whistler is evil, folks. I should have known this from the beginning! How did I not know this? He’s having fence liaisons with Susan, who I would really like to see brutally murdered a few episodes from now. And why is he having fence relations with Susan? He needs the Company to give him more time to escape. Why?

Because Michael’s plan failed. No one escaped and the guards actually discovered the rope ladder that was going to be used during the break out. So, of course, 5-0 bumrushed the prison and chewed Lechero out for not handling his business. And now Lechero has been stripped of his power. Damn, homie. It’s like Hamsterdam all over again, isn’t it? So now Bunny the Milkman wants all up in Michael’s new escape plan. You know what that means! Batman’s gone and got himself an Alfred! Yes!

For a real recap that doesn’t involve my fangirl nonsense, head on over to the Prison Break website.



Thinking.

What will the myths of tomorrow look like if we deny certain people the tools to either create or share them? If we base the quality and quantity of distribution on how those well those myths are in line with our particular worldview?



Shoulder the weight.

Sex and the City: Cast

Someone on that set hates Kim Cattrall. Look at that dress! She looks like she got into a bar fight with the 1980s and lost.



Fandom is nuts, yo.

Why do people continue to interact with prejudiced fans when they end up repeatedly hurt by virulent bigotry? I don’t understand why some people subject themselves to abuse. Listen, I’m not saying that one shouldn’t take a clear stand against racism, sexism, homophobia, and more, but shouldn’t those efforts be focused on trying to eliminate those things within the products being created? Arguing with an intolerant fan on a message board won’t help eliminate or reduce bigotry in comics (or video games, or music). It’s only going to cause stress and take an emotional toll. Having a polite and respectful discussion with a creator or editor about what steps he or she can take to eliminate or reduce bigotry in comics and reach new markets? That’s something can work wonders.

Being a fan of comics and video games can get lonely at times, but I’d rather be lonely than deal with intolerant people bashing minority groups on a regular basis. I avoid message boards where those fans are known to congregate. Of course, not all places where fans congregate start out as a bastion of intolerance, but there are often clues to let one know that the environment will soon be taking a turn for the worse.

Has someone started to complain about how his or her right not to be subjected to homosexuality has been violated? One should probably leave. Is someone using the word feminazi in a manner that is not facetious? Yeah, it’s about time to go. Has someone decided to announce that “blacks are the most racist race” and routinely brings up Al Sharpton, gangsta rap, and how unfair it is that “white people can’t say the n-word” even though none of those things have anything to do with the topic at hand? Bounce.

These are just a handful of clues out of many. I may be a little isolated, but I’m a great deal happier not having to deal with bigotry. And those bigoted fans are probably happier not having to interact with me as well.