date: Dec 18, 2007 8:03 PM
subject: WGA Residuals
I differ from Chauncey in that I think that Obama has a chance to beat whomever the Republicans nominate. I also differ from him because I would never even joke about eating chitlins. However, we agree that, in general, the Democrats are poor strategists compared to the Republicans, and that the Democrats are absolutely clueless when it comes to choosing their presidential candidates. Take a look at this list of losing Democratic Nominees from 1984 to the present:
Gore (don’t give me that “But he won the popular vote and they stole
Just look at that list for a second. Is it even possible to imagine a more lifeless, uninspiring group of Democratic politicians? What this list tells me, though, is that the Democrats do not learn from their mistakes, and that Hillary will most likely be their nominee. Why? Because they believe that she is the “safe” choice (though she is anything but). Because she is an insider with “relevant experience” (though she has little).
Let’s revisit 2004 for a moment. Republicans’ charge them with being antipatriotic, so what do the Democrats do? They get all giddy about Wesley Clark running, and they ultimately nominate a
We live in interesting political times. Due to an odd convergence of circumstances, the three potential democratic presidential nominees are an economic populist, a woman, and a (kind of) black man, and the last one is the most electable candidate of the three! To see why Obama is the best bet for the Dems right now, let’s examine his main rivals:
Edwards, a white male and a Southerner, may seem like a good choice given that the last few Democratic presidents have been white men from the South. But Democrats got extremely lucky with Clinton and Carter: not only were they white male Southerners, they were up against Republicans whose loser-dom was too great for even the Democrats to fuck up. Most important, though, was that they came off as regular guys, despite their high levels of formal education. Edwards, on the other hand, is an effete pretty boy. Independents, especially male ones, will never vote for him in large numbers; he’s too “queer.” They can’t imagine having a brew with Edwards. Though these criteria are idiotic, they certainly explain Gore and Kerry’s failure to mop the floor with a man who, while just north of functionally retarded, appears to be a regular guy despite his privileged upbringing. Edwards can “man up” and criticize Hillary’s crying all he wants, this country will not elect a Southern dandy. The mainstream media will make sure of that. And I haven’t even gotten to the fact that Edwards’ platform is populist, poverty-centered, and critical of big business. Do you think that’s gonna fly in our current political climate, where any critique of the institutions that foster poverty earns one the socialist label?
It’s bad enough that Hillary represents boring “politics as usual.” The fact that she is a
So Obama’s the man…except that he isn’t and probably won’t be. The Democrats embody all four of the pre-Wizard Oz pilgrims combined: no brain, no heart, no home,
no balls no noyve. Obama is the magical Wizard poised to restore to the Democratic Party its squandered mojo. For the Democratic establishment, though, Obama’s campaign is too much like a fairy tale, and nominating him would be too much like right.
It looks like Perry is playing the head of Starfleet Academy. Before you go asking if the character is going to be a human being or one of those funky aliens with a dozen more nostrils, it looks like Perry’s character is a plain old fashioned human.
Here’s some background on the dude: Tyler Perry is one of the bigger breakthrough success stories that Hollywood has had recently. He began his career and won acclaim as a playwright before moving into film. He’s directed and written the screen stories for Madea’s Family Reunion, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Daddy’s Little Girls and his latest hit which came out earlier in the year, Why Did I Get Married?. If the man’s a Trekkie he’s kept it quiet or maybe J.J. is just a fan of Madea.
My informant tells me about a big scene that was filmed a couple of weeks back that involved Perry, Chris Pine (the young James T. Kirk), Zachary Quinto (young Spock) and dozens of other extras. Now really, if you’re here then you already decided that you wanted to be spoiled, but here comes the bigger spoilers…
...Tyler’s character is overseeing some kind of Starfleet courtroom/assembly event where young Kirk is facing expulsion from Starfleet. It turns out that the Starfleet prez didn’t look too favorably on Cadet Kirk for “cheating” on one of his critical tests. And all you Trekkies out there know exactly what it is Kirk did: he rigged the Kobayashi Maru test so he could win it.
(For those that don’t know their Tribbles from Andorians, the Kobayashi Maru is a piece of Trek lore introduced in Star Trek II. Starfleet cadets are placed inside a starship simulator and given a no-win scenario: either try and rescue the survivors of a stranded space freighter trapped behind the Klingon Neutral Zone and thus in enemy space or listen to them die when they are found by the Klingons. The test is designed that there is no possible outcome where you save the Maru survivors and beat the Klingons; it’s supposed to give cadets a taste of what it’s like to be working under pressure as you face probably death. Kirk won the Kobayashi Maru test by reprogramming the scenario so he could actually win it because, as the dude himself said, “I don’t like to lose.")
So young Kirk is standing in front of his peers (human and alien Starfleet cadets and officers) and facing immediate expulsion from the Academy. After hearing the charge from Perry’s character, Chris Pine-as-Kirk delivers a speech in the same vein as some of the classic Kirk speeches from the TV series. He wants to know how his cheating was found out, and it’s revealed that there was a witness to Kirk’s act. Kirk immediately demands to know who the witness was so he can face his accuser.
And that’s when Zachary Quinto-as-Spock stands up. Yup, he’s the one that ratted on Kirk reprogramming the Kobayashi Maru test and he’s the reason why Kirk is about to be expelled from Starfleet. And then…
I’m going to cut it short there for now because I want to follow up with my source and ask some more questions about what happens next. Yeah, I’m leaving you hanging here but it can’t be helped. Besides, it’s the holidays and breaking news is practically non-existent so if I can stretch this out and come back with more spoilers from Star Trek, why not? Plus I want to be able to explain how the new costumes fit into Trek continuity and what they look like…
I promise to be back tomorrow with more. But before I close hailing frequencies I’ve got one final story detail to relate to you: at the start of that day’s filming J.J. addressed the assembled cast and told them that he was extremely happy to have Tyler Perry being a part of his Star Trek movie for many reasons, but one of the biggest was that this would mark the first time
that Perry has appeared in a movie outside of his own projects...
We go from Uhura (random factoid: MLK himself asked her to remain on the show because of her impact as a role model for young black people) to one more minstrelesque, mammy-evoking, carnival of black transvestism. Now introducing Star Trek, The New Adventures: Jigs in Space
Thank you for this passionate, intelligent reply, Sister Zora.
I will respond to a few of your most relevant points, but I will address the bulk of them in the next installments of the Victimology Blues posts.
First, I never suggested that Civil Rights injustices be fought primarily with positive images. WAOD’s explicit goal is to combat negative media depictions of black women. If McCauley and her supporters believe that media and popular culture are the main battlegrounds, then their chief strategy should be publicizing as many stories of positive black women as possible, not publicizing crimes in which black women are victimized.
Moreover, I don’t think that McCauley is really framing these crimes and their handling as Civil Rights issues, which is surprising given that she’s a lawyer. If McCauley and co. had decided to highlight the policing and legal ramifications of these crimes, I might feel differently about WAOD. McCauley makes clear, though, that WAOD is mainly a matter of cleaning up a poisonous culture.
Some lip service notwithstanding, the thrust of the site is not, “Let’s do everything we can to 1) help the police locate and arrest the perpetrators, 2) support these black women victims financially and legally, and 3) mobilize political change to our corrupt law enforcement and judicial systems.” It’s “see, black women are victims too!” WAOD is treating the crimes themselves, not the surrounding legal issues, as newsworthy. Without question, these crimes are significant to the victims and the communities where they occur; however, I don’t see how they are significant beyond their local contexts, and it’s not because the victims are black women. Frankly, I don’t think that any such cases deserve attention from national media. For instance, why spend airtime on stories about JonBenet Ramsey and Natalie Hollaway, who have been dead for years? And what about the current media fixation on Stacy Peterson? The mainstream media is disingenuously stating that their coverage might bring Peterson home, but that’s nonsense: they are assuming that she’s already dead. I’m sorry, I just don’t see why this case has merit as a national news story.
You are right to note the importance of publicizing injustice, and yes, I think that all symbolic victim-based activism is exploitative in a sense. But some forms of exploitation are more defensible than others: it all comes down to the wider implications. In the iconic Civil Rights era crimes you mention, law enforcement and the state was supportive of (and often involved in) the crimes and the legal cover ups. That state governments engaged in total disenfranchisement and the federal government looked the other way meant that black residents had no legal way to remedy the systemic injustices. The entire political, social, legal, economic, system was rotten. Wells, King, etc. worked to fight systemic collective injustice. These missing or brutalized woman cases are matters of personal, localized injustice. The notion that these crimes occur because our popular culture devalues black women is nonsense. Allow me to revert back to Social Science mode for a moment: correlation does not = causation.
Violence has been a fundamental reality throughout recorded human history. Rape and physical abuse were around long before the advent of mass media. I don’t deny that negative images have an adverse affect on the perception of certain groups, but removing these images from public and commercial spaces will not get at the heart of the problem. Entertainment isn’t really the relevant battleground. The problem is that consumer-citizens are treating songs, movies, and TV shows as a valid source of information about groups of people. That has almost nothing to do with the “negative” content; that has to do with short-circuits in peoples’ social interaction and perhaps in their cognitive ability. Don’t those of us interested in progressive social and political change always say that we need to attack the roots of problems? It’s easy to point a finger at the big corporations for spreading trash; it’s not as satisfying to shift responsibility toward families and other social institutions that should prevent and/or correct these short-circuits.
It’s true that I defend people’s right to disrespect black women, but that’s somewhat misleading. I defend people’s right to disrespect anyone—that’s the very essence of freedom of speech. Still, I’m less concerned with defending bigots than I am with fighting the effects of censorship. Black people from previous generations endured far worse in terms of public vilification and were stronger for it. I believe that we’re breeding a society of psychological weaklings whose first impulse is not to engage and defeat offending voices, but to silence them. Just to clear up any confusion, this is a problem throughout societies, not one limited to any specific identity group.
I’m glad you mentioned “Girls, Girls, Girls” because it not only highlights our disagreements, it also recalls my issue with TAN. In the song, Jay-Z frequently conflates Indian (from India) and Native American stereotypes; he attributes french braids, french kissing, and french fries to France; the part about the African woman is lifted directly from Ed Murph’s stand-up comedy special Raw, which is, I’ll admit, one of the most misogynistic screeds from a man who clearly has issues with women …unless they have penises.
I don’t take from the song that Jay-Z disparages black women in comparison to other women across the world; I take from it that Jay-Z works with dominant cultural stereotypes to reveal their inherent ridiculousness. As such, “Girls, Girls, Girls” is one of Jay-Z’s most clever songs. But it wasn’t popular because people understood its satirical bent; it was popular because listeners like to revel in stereotypes and the beat was catchy as hell. The problems with the song’s reception are the same problems that led to Chappelle’s crisis: people don’t like to acknowledge that popular cultural texts can mean different things to different audiences, and the base meaning normally overshadows every other meaning. I don’t think Jay-Z cares; after all, no one outside of Dyson-types really considered him a social critic. Chappelle definitely cares, though, which is why he was never meant for long-term stratospheric popularity.
Sister Zora, yes, you are a woman, but I think black women’s desire to be treated like white women is unhealthy. Sojourner Truth was speaking in the middle of the 19th Century. Much has changed since then. Your call for black men to defend black women’s honor and your wish for black women victims to receive the kind of national media attention reserved for (usually young, blonde, middle-to-upper class, and relatively attractive) white women shows a surprising attachment to gender orthodoxy. It’s accepted wisdom in our line of work that when men talk about defending female honor, they are usually providing a justification for controlling not only women’s bodies but also ideas about gender roles in society. The history of the rhetoric surrounding lynching and war is all the evidence one needs to confirm this.
I understand that black women don’t even have the luxury of being “overprotected” and that the concern about having ones honor exploited underscores the privilege of upper class white feminists. But let’s say that you get your wish and black women are afforded the same victim value that white women receive. Better to be a victim than a ho, right? Well, yeah, of course, but you’re still a victim. You’re still an abstraction. You’re still an archetype. You’ll never be a woman, a human being with inherent worth and agency, as long as you’re only important as a victim, a caretaker, or a Jezebel (all in the service of men).Finally, you can say that this isn’t about hurt feelings, but that’s hard to believe. How else do you explain the popularity of the tired “Why don’t black men love us?” topic cluttering magazine racks, bookshelves, TV, and the net?
I got this African chick with Eddie Murphy on her skull
She like, "Jigga Man, why you treat me like animal?
"I'm like excuse me Ms. Fufu, but when I met your ass
you was dead broke and naked, and now you want half
I got this ho that after twelve million sold
Mami's a narcolyptic, always sleepin on Hov'
Gotta tie the back of her head like Deuce Bigalow...
What is going on in the head of Jay-Z and others like him? Isn't it a sign of sickness that he sees African-American women (his sisters, his mother, his aunts) so negatively? I don't argue that he doesn't have the right to say whatever he wants, but let's not pretend that what he says does not impact others.
Please know that this is not about the low self-esteem or hurt feelings of African-American women. Perceptions and treatment of African-American women are inseperable from the growth of the African-American community as a whole. The value of a segment impacts the value of the whole. Oh, if only the Black Panther leadership could have understood this. What is going on in our communities that we so freely disparaged and disrespect black women? Why are some African-American men so quick to defend the rights of their brothers to disrespect the sisters? Why are they not as quick to protect and defend the honor of African-American women?
Have we progressed so much that we no longer have to think about the community as a whole? As long as my children know better, as long as my wife is not gang-raped, as long as I am empowered enough to take advantage of opportunities, as long as I live in a community where positive African-American role models abound ... What happened to taking pride in ourselves as a community? What happened to our sense of linked fate?