Me: "Don't we both have Friday off this week? We can go shopping then."
Toby: "Good call. Crisis averted."
I do find it very odd that my employer gives Good Friday off, but not Easter Sunday. Not that I'm working Easter Sunday this year, but I've done it in years past.
"Those stats have to be biased toward the cities. I know this town. We've only had two rapes in the last 50 years."
Only two. Only two *reported*, in a small town where everyone knows each other's business. In a place where, if a woman needs to leave a violent husband, she'd better have her own transportation to get to another place because there isn't any public transportation. Where if a girl gets pregnant in high school, she has nowhere to go and might get pressured into marrying her rapist.
It made me wonder what the suicide rate is for girls and women there, and the number who leave town suddenly and don't come back. ( and further thoughts on the difficulty of communication without shared experiences )
But neither of them does, not really: Herman refers to the role of civilian-society estrangement in combat-society vulnerability to trauma, Gilligan calls out the moral betrayal of command as akin to the self-denying pressure put on girls in North American society -
- but this thing that I'm staring at now, if I ever saw it called out it was from the radicals who - in the way of radicals - missed out on nuance and complexity and necessary contradictions. Like the weight that remains after Herman: where is the positive resilience? Like the poison I taste in Gilligan: what is it you call inauthentic, what do you substitute for what you reject?
Going around the idea, not calling it out in words: Shay's veterans who located the moment of the break in command calling "Okay" what really was not and being forced to relay it down the line even as wondering why, and Gilligan's girls who locate the break in a society that tells you no one wants you, and yet you must be wanted to exist.
(Sometimes it feels to be as if being spared the tyranny of Nice is like being spared - it's a very good way of getting people to willingly collaborate with their own erasure, is what I say.)
In the second episode of The Middleman, a case takes Wendy to the Underworld, where she’s tempted by a secret. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Middleman.
Well, this is neat!
- I’m interested in seeing more, but I wouldn’t say I’ve totally fallen for The Middleman. I like it so far, but it’s such an odd show, and I’m trying to do my best to wrap my head around it. Like the pilot episode, “The Accidental Occidental Conception” toys with parody and sincerity at the same time. Thankfully, with a look into Wendy’s past and her relationship with Lacey, I found this episode a lot more appealing to me.
- It’s also always weird for me to see depictions of animal rights protestors because I’ve got such a weird history with it. I never was much of one myself, but I was vegan for over a decade. I never participated in a protest or boycott or anything like that, but a lot of my friends did. I also never found myself particularly upset with stereotypical depictions of vegans because… well, frankly, most of the people I knew were as ridiculous as the portrayals. Plus, there’s a lot of baggage that comes with the dietary choice, namely that a lot of vegans believe they are being truly revolutionary and that they’re the only solution to all the problems in the world.
- In one sense, Lacey is very singular. She pursues her goal of animal liberation without thinking of the ramifications for other people. It’s why Wendy is so upset at the opening of this episode. Lacey can’t fathom how her protests are affecting Wendy at all. Not only that, but she makes a very familiar argument: she’s the one who truly knows how to change the world.
- The frustrating thing is that Wendy wants to be supportive of her friend’s passions, even if she doesn’t necessarily agree with them herself. How do you balance the two? How do you be a best friend and a constructive critic at the same time?
- She’s also got to deal with a second issue. How does she balance the problems in her personal life with the demands of her job with The Middleman?
- Just because it’s on my mind lately, can we talk about how in two episodes, The Middleman has presented a fictionalized version of Los Angeles and Southern California that is already more racially diverse than the entirety of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I WENT THERE, I DON’T CARE.
- I mean, there’s that really odd moment where somehow, Duncan’s mother had an affair with a Chinese man and produced a child that doesn’t look mixed at all? That was weird. I mean, I get the visual gag, but it’s weird.
- Otherwise? Y’ALL, THAT JOKE ABOUT BEING A THIRD-GENERATION IMMIGRANT WAS SO GREAT.
- And so is watching The Middleman and Wendy interact throughout this story. He really is one of the most continuously proper characters I’ve ever seen, and it’s one of the reasons he’s such a stickler about separating his work and his self. But Wendy is so fascinating because she openly compartmentalizes the two. She’s able, by the end of this episode, to deal with a multitude of conflicting realities and still get her job done. Barely, yes, but as The Middleman says, she did do what she needed to.
- Even Lacey’s story, which initially intersects with Roxy’s in stereotypical ways, rises above expectations. Where the writers refuse to discredit Wendy’s problems, they also give Lacey a story that is about her understanding why her protesting can be ineffective. If what she does only creates destruction and chaos in her wake, is it really worth it?
- Of course, the show doesn’t stray far from The Devil Wears Prada-lite in portraying Roxy Wasserman. But then they re-invent the succubus myth and make the fashion house a HOME FOR REFORMED SUCCUBI. WHICH IS SO COOL, Y’ALL.
- I just wish we spent more time on that and less on faithfully replicating fashion industry tropes. Like, they’re so spot-on they don’t feel like the playful parody of other moments in these first two episodes.
- Still, I like how this acts as a learning opportunity for Lacey. She actually readjusts her approach to animal rights and makes sure her activism actually helps other people. I mean, she admits that the animals killed for the furs that Roxy used are already dead; she can’t change that. So why not use them to help people in need? YO, THAT’S SO GREAT.
- Meanwhile, Wendy is struggling with her own issues with her best friend, the least of which is Lacey’s growing attraction to The Middleman. I don’t think is the last time we’ve seen this, y’all. THEIR LOVE IS TOO POWERFUL.
- But as Wendy spends time on her second case, which is somehow even more surreal and dangerous than mind-control apes, she worries that she may have pushed her best friend too far. And the thing that’s so great about watching this is that the show doesn’t say Wendy was silly for expressing concern for Lacey’s behavior. No, Lacey even comes to admit that her risky actions had physical implications for Wendy.
- So how is she supposed to balance these every day occurrences and her emotional needs with the job? For me, this story was about trust. The Middleman ultimately understood that Wendy’s life wasn’t anything like his, and that she had specific issues that she had to deal with.
- One of the best ways this is dealt with is through the use of the Underworld. Which, first of all, has the BEST set design because of course the modern Underworld looks like a nondescript office building. I LOVE THE INFORMATION DESK GUY SO MUCH. THE BEST. How many heroes on quests does he have to deal with? Probably too many.
- Wendy becomes tempted by knowledge. She bonds with Duncan earlier in the episode because they both share mysterious fathers. I assume that because the computer Ida and The Middleman used to locate the Qin heir chose Duncan, that means Duncan’s biological father has to be dead, right? Or else Duncan’s father would have been the closest heir.
- ANYWAY, Wendy hasn’t seen her father since she was 14. Even worse, no one knows what happened to him. Did he abandon the family or did he die mysteriously? So when she’s faced with the records of everyone who has died ever, the temptation is too great. She can finally get closure on a secret that’s haunted her for years.
- But in the end, she chooses the responsibility of her job over her own personal need for closure. And that is why The Middleman trusts Wendy. He appreciates and respects that Wendy really can multitask, that she isn’t him and she doesn’t need to be him. She can still do the job and have his back, and isn’t that all that matters? Gods, y’all, I love so much that the show doesn’t demonize her for wanting to resolve her own emotional tension!
- These are the things that make me want to see more of the show. I thought the story this episode was fairly goofy, but the worldbuilding was VERY WONDERFUL. Now I want to know more about The Middleman’s past, though. Ann Arbor???? TELL ME MORE PLEASE.
The video for “The Accidental Occidental Conception” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
- If you would like to support this website and keep Mark Does Stuff running, I’ve put up a detailed post explaining how you can!
- Please check out the MarkDoesStuff.com. All Mark Watches videos for past shows/season are now archived there!
- My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features will be: Band of Brothers, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and then Farscape.
- I will be at quite a few conventions and will be hosting events throughout the US, Canada, and Europe in 2014, so check my Tour Dates / Appearances page often to see if I’m coming to your city!
- Inspired by last year’s impromptu event in London, I am taking Mark in the Park on the road! You can see all currently planned dates and pitch your own city here.
My friend and MIT colleague Tom Levenson watched, with some interests, the debate between myself and Jonathan Chait. On a whim, Tom pulled together some more thoughts on campaign finance reform that, I think, help spin this conversation forward. His insights are below.
There has been plenty of talk about the Ta-Nehisi Coates-Jonathan Chait argument over the term "black culture" in the context of the ills of poverty and the question of progress as seen through the lens of the actual history of America.
A drastically shortened version of Coates’ analysis is that white supremacy -- and the imposition of white power on African American bodies and property -- have been utterly interwoven through the history of American democracy, wealth and power from the beginnings of European settlement in North America. The role of the exploitation of African American lives in the construction of American society and polity did not end in 1865. Rather, through the levers of law, lawless violence, and violence under the color of law, black American aspirations to wealth, access to capital, access to political power, a share in the advances of the social safety net and more have all been denied with greater or less efficiency. There has been change -- as Coates noted in a conversation he and I had a couple of years ago, in 1860 white Americans could sell children away from their parents, and in 1865 they could not -- and that is a real shift. But such beginnings did not mean that justice was being done nor equity experienced.
Once you start seeing American history through the corrective lens created by the generations of scholars and researchers on whose work Coates reports, then it becomes possible – necessary, really -- to read current events in a new light. Take, for example, the McCutcheon decision that continued the Roberts Court program of gutting campaign finance laws.
The conventional -- and correct, as far as it goes -- view of the outcome, enabling wealthy donors to contribute to as many candidates as they choose, is that this further tilts the political playing field towards the richest among us at the expense of every American voter. See noted analyst Jon Stewart for a succinct presentation of this view.
But that first-order take on this latest from the Supreme Court's right wing misses a crucial dimension. It isn't just rich folks who benefit from the Roberts Court's view that money = speech. Those who gain possess other key identifiers. For one thing, they form a truly a tiny elite. As oral arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC were being prepared last fall, the Public Campaign delivered a report on all those who approached the money limits the court struck down. They amount to just 1,219 people in the US -- that's 4 in every 1,000,000 of our population.
Unsurprisingly, most of the report simply reinforces the main theme of the reaction to the Supreme Court's decision: this is one more step towards securing governance of, for and by rich people and their well-compensated servants. One of the most troubling aspects of the story is that the top donors in this country simply don't encounter ordinary folks, the middle class no more than the poor:
Nearly half of the elite donors (47.6 percent) live in the richest one percent of neighborhoods, as measured by per capita income, and more than four out of every five (80.5 percent) are from the richest 10 percent.
Equally unsurprisingly, the world of top donors is overwhelmingly male:
Of donors for whom gender data were available, only 25.7 percent of the elite donors in 2012 were women, even lower than the paltry one-third of donors giving at least $200 to a federal campaign that election cycle. Also, 304 superlimit donors have a spouse or other family member as another member of list, which could indicate either a very politically interested family or a way for one donor to circumvent the existing limits through contributions in his or her spouse’s name. Of the donors without another family member on the list, only 17.7 percent are women.
And against the argument that regardless of the source of the money, cash is gender blind, I give you both data and Nancy Pelosi:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) identifies big money as a key factor holding this number down: “If you reduce the role of money in politics and increase the level of civility, you’ll have more women elected to public office, and sooner, and that nothing is more wholesome to the governmental and political process than increased participation of women.”
In contrast, further increasing the role of money in politics by removing the aggregate contribution limit means the Supreme Court may end up pushing down women’s role in campaigns even further. CRP’s “Sex, Money and Politics,” report also found that “Women tend to make up a larger percentage of the donor pool when contribution amounts are limited by law.” It continues to note that the three cycles in which loopholes for sending unlimited contributions to political parties or outside groups like super PACs were largely closed, women played a larger role: “In the 2004, 2006 and 2008 cycles, which were the only three since 1990 with strict donation limits restricting the amount of money a single individual could give, the percentage of women as a portion of the donor pool increased.”
But even these pathologies are vastly less severe than those to be found through the lens of race. People of color are almost entirely absent from the top donor profile, and none more so than members of the community that white Americans enslaved for two centuries:
While more than one-in-six Americans live in a neighborhood that is majority African-American or Hispanic, less than one-in-50 superlimit donors do. More than 90 percent of these elite donors live in neighborhoods with a greater concentration of non- Hispanic white residents than average. African-Americans are especially underrepresented. The median elite donor lives in a neighborhood where the African-American population counts for only 1.4 percent, nine times less than the national rate.
IOW: political money and hence influence at the top levels is disproportionately white, male, and with almost no social context that includes significant numbers of African Americans and other people of color.
This is why money isn't speech. Freedom of speech as a functional element in democratic life assumes that such freedom can be meaningfully deployed. But the unleashing of yet more money into politics allows a very limited class of people to drown out the money "speech" of everyone else -- but especially those with a deep, overwhelmingly well documented history of being denied voice and presence in American political life.
Now take the work of the Roberts Court in ensuring that rule of cash, the engine of political power for an overwhelmingly white upper-upper crust, with combine those decisions with the conclusions of the court on voting rights, and you get a clear view of what the five-justice right-wing majority has done. Controlling access to the ballot has been a classic tool of white supremacy since the end of Reconstruction. It is so once again, as states seizing on the Roberts Court Voting Rights Act decision take aim at exactly those tools with which African Americans increased turnout and the proportion of minority voters within the electorate. There's not even much of an attempt to disguise what's going on.
Hell, add all this to the Roberts decision to free states from the tyranny of being forced to accept federal funds to provide health care to the poor. When John Roberts declared that Obamacare's Medicaid expansion would be optional, the decision sounded colorblind -- states could deny succor to their poor of any race -- in practice, that is to say in the real world, this decision hits individual African Americans and their communities the hardest …. as Coates wrote way back when.
So: money, which disproportionately defends existing power structures, is unfettered; ease of voting, which at least in theory permits challenges to such structures, is constrained; and a series of decisions seeming devoid of racial connection presses thumbs the scale ever harder against the chance that in the real world African Americans will have get to play on a level field.
By Guest Contributor Marly Pierre-Louis
I love a good adventure. So when my partner asked, “How would you feel about moving to Amsterdam?” I was game. Between the shock of making that decision and being completely overwhelmed with all we had to do, I daydreamed about what it would be like to be Black in the Netherlands. I knew about the historical love affair between Black America and Europe. Black folks, especially artists, had always sought refuge from the terrors of American racism in Europe. Stories of Josephine Baker, James Baldwin, and Richard Wright in France painted an eclectic and humane portrait of Black life in Europe. I was thrilled at the prospect of experiencing a truly post racial existence.
At least I thought I was. Something happened as we crossed the Atlantic: I got cynical. Post racial. What a farce. From the moment we landed I became slightly obsessed with analyzing how I was being read as a Black woman – an utterly disorienting experience. I had never before been so aware of how much influence my race and gender had on the way I maneuvered through the world and how I interacted with people. Specifically, white people. Meeting my new compatriots, I searched their faces, tones of voice, and body language, hoping for hints. I wasn’t getting any of the cues that I had spent my life learning to navigate. The feeling of being somehow “race-less” was unbearable.
This realization was deeply troubling to me. It made me cognitive of what happens when we step out of the borders of the United States and are actually able to put down our racial armor but can’t. We can’t function without it. So much of my existence had been crafted as a defensive response to white racism. I identify as a radical Black, sometimes nationalist, feminist. Who was I without the white American male gaze?
I devoured everything I could find on race in the Netherlands and how racism manifested. Prior to 1975, when Suriname, one of the Dutch colonies was liberated, the Netherlands was pretty homogeneously white. So integration is a fairly recent phenomenon. Most of the Black folks who are here are migrants from Suriname or the Dutch Antilles. The marginalized groups here are not Black but Turkish and Moroccan migrants. I was told that in Europe, it’s not about race, it’s about ethnicity. My Blackness didn’t mean much to Dutch people and I was mainly being read as 1) a non-Dutch person, and then, 2) an American. Maybe post racial was possible!
The Dutch might lack the stereotypes and tropes of Black womanhood that the U.S has so painstakingly crafted over decades: i.e. sapphire, welfare mom, jezebel, etc. but they have plenty of issues of their own. In November I experienced my first Zwarte Piet season. Zwarte Piet is the Dutch version of Santa’s elf and the main character of their annual holiday celebration – a white person in Black face, curly wig, red lipstick and gold hoop earrings – in short, a coon. Hundreds of them descended upon the city for a three week period. It was, in a word … horrific.
While Zwarte Piet is the most overt manifestation of racism I’ve witnessed, I’ve watched enough BBC to know that folks here are dealing with their fair share of BS. In 2011, the Netherlands was the target of Rihanna’s rage when a Dutch magazine, Jackie, called her an “ultimate niggabitch.”
And last month, in a scene that was compared in reports to a Nazi Germany gathering, Geert Wilders, a right wing Dutch politician and leader of the Party for Freedom, asked a crowd of supporters at an election rally, “Do you want, in this city and in The Netherlands, more or less Moroccans?” To which the crowd roared back, “Less! Less! Less!”
The current coalition cabinet led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, leader of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (ironic, isn’t it?), is explicitly anti-Islam and has put structural barriers in place to make it difficult for immigrants to remain. New immigration laws mandate that non-citizens pass language and cultural tests within two years or else face deportation.
And that’s just the stuff that makes the news. I’ve heard tales of racial profiling, media discrimination, and the silencing of academics and activists of color. During the driving test for her license, a friend of mine was asked her opinion of Zwarte Piet by the instructor. When she told him she thought it was racist, he vehemently defended the tradition and then promptly flunked her. Riding on public transit without a ticket is called “zwartrijden” — literally, “Black riding.” A friend explains that when Black folks get on the tram, they sometimes hear people joke, “Ook al koop je sen kaartje, je rijdt sowieso zwart.” Translation: whether or not you buy a ticket, you’re still “riding Black.”
This country is far from post racial.
Honestly though? Aside from some suspicious looks every now and then, I truly haven’t experienced much overt racism firsthand. What I’ve realized is that my status as an American expat has sheltered me. My partner and I are both here under “highly skilled migrant” visas. My privileged status has kept me from being confronted by structural racism and not knowing any Dutch has protected me from microaggressions. I exist in a bubble.
My self care plan has been to construct an existence and identity outside of both the white American gaze and the Dutch one. It hasn’t been easy but it has been liberating. I’m no longer allowing my obsession with how I’m being read as a Black woman to dictate who I interact with and how I interact with them. I’ve fully embraced the expat experience and it’s been refreshing to feel like I can be MYSELF here. Myself meaning, Marly, the multi-dimensional individual, rather than Marly, the accumulation of white stereotypes + white fear + white liberal guilt x the entire Black race. I’ve made friends with Dutch, Romanians, and Italians. In my conversations with this multi-culti crew, I’ve never felt like a spectacle, I’ve never felt exoticized, undermined or underestimated.
My bubble is fragile.
A few months ago, I was at an event with some friends. Someone they knew came over and they introduced me to her. She was white and quite tall so I assumed she was Dutch. At one point, she referenced something American and when I asked her where she was from she said “Arkansas.” For a split second, the post racial(ish) safe space I had constructed for myself collapsed, I felt exposed. Not only was she a white American, but a white American from the South – like the Paula Dean South! I couldn’t help but feel like my humanity was once again, in danger. I’m hiding from American racism in European racism — it’s a tricky space to navigate.
And it’s an ongoing struggle. Every now and then I catch myself looking at someone sideways determined to anticipate how their racism will manifest. And whenever it does, I feel a perverse sense of triumph. The world is once again as it should be.
Marly Pierre-Louis is a writer and community cultivator currently biking through the rain in Amsterdam. She is interested in intersectional feminism and sexuality.
The post Self-Healing From American Racism appeared first on Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture.
Writer and director Elena Rossini has released the first four minutes of The Illusionists. I’m really excited to see the rest. The documentary is a critique of a high standard of beauty but, unlike some that focus exclusively on the impacts of Western women, Rossini’s film looks as though it will do a great job of illustrating how Western capitalist impulses are increasingly bringing men, children, and the entire world into their destructive fold.
The first few minutes address globalization and Western white supremacy, specifically. As one interviewee says, the message that many members of non-Western societies receive is that you “join Western culture… by taking a Western body.” The body becomes a gendered, raced, national project — something that separates modern individuals from traditional ones — and corporations are all too ready to exploit these ideas.
Watch for yourself (subtitles available here):Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
Supernatural spoilers, mostly for the surprise appearance of someone: ( Read more... )
Anyway, onward to brief Agents of SHIELD reactions: ( Read more... )
The comm's photos are currently housed at my own site where I don't have any gallery software, so the only way of accessing them is through the comm posts. Hopefully we'll get something more functional in the not too distant future.
( This way... )
Thank you, everybody who ordered a copy! You're awesome, and I hope you enjoyed it!
The following bits are probably only of interest to self publishers, but I wanna contribute what smidgeon I can to an often opaque set of numbers, so read on if you like that sort of thing!
In terms of numeric breakdowns, after expenses (mostly editing services and coffee) we're looking at around $5.5K. For self-pub, that's not the extreme end of the bell curve, but definitely a very respectable success. If you figure it took about 100 hours to write, that's a very good wage (although if you figure that it took since 2006 to write, the numbers look...um...less good. And it's not like you can just sit down and put in a 100 hour work week and have another book. Well, I can't, anyhow. You know, trying to work this out like this is probably a fruitless exercise...)
Anyhow, as far as I can tell--and I am extrapolating from VERY little data here, so I could be very wrong, anyone with more experience, feel free to chip it!--the initial sales burst comes in the first month or two, then it begins to taper off. I'd guess there's a spike in sales when you put out a new book (or at least, so I am told!) but as the next Goblins book may take another couple years at this rate, we'll find out if it applies to other releases by the same author.
Around 90% of sales were via Amazon Kindle. Smashwords is definitely worth it, though, as there's a lot of readers who, for whatever reasons, will not use Amazon and it sucks to leave them in the lurch. I've heard from friends that direct sales from their website do very well, and that's something to consider, although I dread the tech support aspect there. Suspect that may be the wave of the future, though, as Amazon eventually will start to squeeze.
The nice thing about slow taper, though, is that while it's not paying my rent as it did for the first two months, it's still solidly buying groceries, and even as we slither downward, I can probably expect it to keep me in hard cider money for awhile.
That is due entirely to the readers, let me hasten to add--I'm not promoting it beyond posts like this one and links on the website, and it's the plethora of good reviews and (gasp! the legendary!) word-of-mouth that's moving copies. I am super grateful for that--I even had a fan tell me the other day that they bought a copy and loved it and didn't know it was by me. Which, I mean, pen-name and all, but that means the book has a life of its own beyond just yours truly, and that bodes very well for it.
So all in all, my first self-pub adventure has been a rousing success, despite all the weeping and bloodshed that it took to bring it into the world. (Come to think of it, there's a few more typos found...need to get that deal with in my copious spare time...) Thank you, everybody!
And yes! Promotion! I can do this! If you want to buy a copy:
The last time I had my typing speed tested was in...8th grade, maybe? I know I type rather fast, albeit not exactly 5-finger touch-typing (it's more like 2 fingers and a thumb, making the keyboard sound like its being pounded on by a demented animal), but I have no way to actually figure out how fast I type. So does anybody know of any decent, free, online typing-speed tests? (Put another way: Yes, I can find a few on Google. Does anybody have any they prefer?)
TEN SEDER LIES
We didn't open the door for Elijah last night.
Miriam's Cup wasn't full of living waters.
The hidden matzah languished, unlooked-for.
Costumes for the pageant never left their box.
No one asked about the seder plate stowaways.
We decided to skip all of the poetry.
I didn't wake to the melody of imagined trumpets
summoning me to join the pilgrimage.
When I close my eyes, I don't see my ancestors.
No glimpse of my great-grandchildren up ahead.
Today's NaPoWriMo prompt invited us to write a ten-line poem in which each line is a lie.
The couplet about the imagined trumpets is a reference to the melodic motifs of festival nusach, the melodic mode used for chanting prayer on the Three Pilgrimage Festivals.
... I'm not sure "Wolverine as Danny Ocean" excludes the possibility that this is All About Wolverine's Manpain, but... it's better than the last one?
Quicksilver is not looking any better now that we hear him speak and do his thing. Which is why the director of the porn parody got in a pretty good shot (worksafe).