Something on a Monday for the "ghetto nerd" set...
Michelle Rodriguez is a functional actress.
She is not an expert on comic books and popular culture--as far as I know.
However, one of the joys of popular culture is that taste cannot be easily reconciled or arbitrated. By definition, "popular culture" means those "art forms" that do not require special training, education, background, or resources to enjoy.
This does not mean that a given person's perspectives or opinions on or about popular culture stand outside of the political and social moment in which they are located.
For example, as reported by CNN, Michelle Rodriguez suggested on Saturday of last week that:
"I think that people should stop being lazy and that people should make an effort in Hollywood to develop their own mythology."
Within 24 hours of being posted on Saturday the video had been viewed nearly 2 million times.
The comments come after Rodriguez was caught on camera Friday saying that minorities should stop "stealing...white people's superheroes." Rodriguez, who identifies as Puerto Rican and Dominican, was walking to her car when TMZ asked her about rumors that she might be cast in the traditionally male role of superhero Green Lantern, last played by Ryan Reynolds.
She dismissed the rumor as "the dumbest thing I've ever heard." She followed it up with, "It's so stupid, it's like, 'Stop stealing all the white people's superheroes' ... make up your own. You know what I'm saying?"
Apparently, not everyone felt what she was saying, prompting her to post a Facebook video captioned "About that whole superhero thing."Passion and enthusiasm are not a substitute for critical reflection or inquiry. Moreover, while Rodriguez's spirit of self-reliance and do it yourself empowerment for those who are the Other in Hollywood, and the comic book business specifically, is admirable. Yet, said Horatio Alger spirit of entrepreneurial independence exists within the world as it is, not necessarily the world that many of us would like to believe exists.
"Minorities" have been doing their own thing and inventing their/our superhero characters for many years.
Michelle Rodriguez must not know about the legacy of Milestone Comics.
Michelle Rodriguez most certainly must not know about the legendary comic book writer who happened to be black, Mr. Dwayne McDuffie.
Internalized racism and ignorance are very dangerous things because they perpetuate and legitimate structural inequality and white supremacy in the United States and the West, and also lead common folks like Michelle Rodriguez--who happen to be in Hollywood movies--to make mouth utterances such as the following:
"Instead of trying to turn a girl character into a guy or instead of trying to turn a white character into a black character or a Latin character, I think that people should stop being lazy and that people should make an effort in Hollywood to develop their own mythology."McDuffie and the other black and brown and female comic book creators, TV and Hollywood writers, and others who are trying to, and if are very lucky, have successfully broken into the "superhero game", are not lazy.
The Horatio Alger myth when mixed with some enthusiastic pleadings for economic independence in a Hollywood industry that is grounded in channeling the white racial frame and where white men are grossly over-represented (white men are about 20 percent of the U.S. population and 95 or so percent of Hollywood's show runners, writers, producers, and executives) is a tragic sort of naivete.
It is also amazingly intoxicating for the model minority types such as Michelle Rodriguez who have succeeded--however marginally--in that business.