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bear by san

March 2017

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criminal minds boom

i wish i had a metal heart

Apparently, a certain subset of asinine Internet fandom is pissed off that the black characters, and one whose race was not mentioned, in The Hunger Games are being played by black actors.

...so I happened to see Thor with a friend who is West Indian.

And every time I saw some internet fanboy bitching about Idris Elba as Heimdal, I thought about the way my friend's face lit up as she leaned over to me and said "There's black people in Asgard!" 

She. Was. Thrilled.

Seriously, Certain White Folks. Let me break this down for you in small words, as a fellow white person.

1) It costs you nothing when a character who was historically white is recast as black. No-thing. From the Norse, "Not a damned thing." It costs you even less when a black character is played by a black actor. If you're too self-absorbed to notice that a character whose skin is described as brown is in fact a brown person... that's not anybody's problem but yours. Yes, we in America live in a society that defaults to white. Also male, cis, heterosexual. That doesn't mean you have to be an asshole.

2) It means the world to somebody who's used to being unrepresented to see somebody like them in a work of art.

3) Now imagine that that somebody who's used to being unrepresented is a twelve-year-old girl who is in the midst of forming her adult boundaries and identity. ...Means even more to her, you dig? You support that or you're an asshole. You don't have to be an asshole!

4) Idris Fucking Elba is ALWAYS A PLUS. Full stop.

5) Not merely racists. But racists with crappy reading comprehension.

6) As my friend hawkwing_lb says, "Bollocks to them."

Comments

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Idris Fucking Elba is ALWAYS A PLUS. Full stop.

Seriously yes.

I mean, I agree with your previous points too. But this is the internet, and you know. Idris Elba.
Yup. This.
WHAT is wrong with people?
Completely agree! Your West Indian friend's reaction lends considerable weight to my feeling that this is important, too.

(I'm especially amused at the quotes showing that some of the characters complained about were explicitly "dark skinned" or even "very dark skinned" in the original book. I have a theory -- contemporary unconscious American racists are focused on America's particular categories, especially "African American", and don't respond the way people used to to just darker skin. So they don't read "dark skinned" as including "black" as a possibility, because if you don't say otherwise a character is "white" and "dark skinned" isn't contradictory to "white" for them.)
This is like Conan being "swarthy," but also described as white. Because apparently we here in 2012 can't do better than R.E. Howard.

(In my head, he's still a brown dude, though.)
The white people are pissing me off again.
On behalf of my phenotype, I am sorry.
Thank you.
My response to every person who says "Why'd they have to make Rue black?" is "Why'd they have to make Katniss white?"
Yep. Her race isn't specified either. Olive skin--could easily be of just about any ethnicity in North America.
What you said.
Big smelly bollocks.

I am a white girl from the land of pale people and I came out of the film disappointed that the crowd scenes are so very melanin-deficient. There could have been more diversity. I am incredibly relieved that the canonically dark characters were cast black, but Hollywood still needs do better.

And people need to stop being assholes.
I thought that exact same thing.
Idris Elba was awesome as Heimdall! "So you want to break the rules, commit treason, and generally mess with Loki." "Yes." "I'm taking my coffee break. Back in 5." He had all the gravitas needed to be the immortal guardian of a city of gods, but all the personality needed to be more than a cipher. Funny thing, recasting the character as black didn't change a thing for my enjoyment of the movie. And if it made good people happy and racist assholes unhappy, all the better. :)

What my daughter said about "Thor"

Just a short anecdote that I hope de-cranks you a little.

By coincidence, my twelve year old daughter and I watched "Thor" on DVD at the weekend. She enjoyed the film far more than she had been expecting and of the many things she liked, two stood out. Firstly, Sif, because she is a lady who kicks bottom in no uncertain way. Secondly, Heimdal, because "he is flat-out awesome."

When I told her afterwards that some people had been outraged that Heimdal had been played by a black actor, my daughter who is blonde, blue-eyed, and distinctly white, looked at me with astonishment. "But why would they say that?" she asked. "That actor was AWESOME. Those people are idiots."

She makes me so proud sometimes it hurts.

Re: What my daughter said about "Thor"

D'aww. *g*
#5 is really frustrating to me, because it sometimes limits the good I personally can do. "But I SAID she was black! I said it with words! The words that said she was black! And then said again! About her being black!"

I mean, in settings that are this-world or highly similar, I try to go beyond "dark-skinned," giving people cultural background--as I know many other people posting in these parts do too--so that their cultural identity is not just a couple lines of physical description. But when you're talking about a far enough future for a culture to have diverged really significantly, or a fantasy universe where it never was this culture in the first place, having a really dark-skinned person have automatically the same culture as an African-American person (or an African person or Caribbean person or...) gets problematic in itself. So short of jumping up and down going "NOT BLONDE YOU JACKASS!", the reading comprehension problem gets to be annoying. I guess until you can point at the text and go, "here, here, and here--this is where it says the opposite of what you took away from it. That's all I could do."
This becomes even more challenging when you're writing about a secondary world nation where the default ethnicity is non-white, but you don't want to be giving people names that map directly to the real-world equivalent ethnicity.

Default assumptions and marked and unmarked states are really a pain in the ass sometimes. Especially with some people's blithe tendency to overlook the text...
Too many thoughts on this subject so I'll stick to just one: does it seem as though there is at least a little nice parallelism to the book here? (I'm sorry, I'm stuck on The Hunger Games, don't let me interrupt discussions of the awesomeness of Idris Elba.)

I thought Rue's death was a turning point in the books, a bringing-to-light of things that were already horribly broken in the society, but people were able to ignore up to that point. Certainly it served that purpose for Katniss at a minimum -- Rue's death was a touchstone for her for the rest of the series.

It seems somehow appropriate to me that the casting of the actress serves some a similar purpose of bringing something to light in our society that is maybe easier to ignore otherwise (in this case, the extent of racism that is still apparently rampant in a country that tries to tell you it is now above such things).
Well, there are indeed some mighty fuckwits in this world, and that's all I have to say. I think the biscuit was taken by the person who said he saw her as dark skinned but 'didn't go as far as black.' What?
This just baffles the fuck out of me.

I mean, on a personal level, this was already my mental image of all three of these characters. Thresh and Rue and Cinna looked exactly as I imagined. Rue was AMAZING. I don't even.

But beyond that, I just cannot comprehend a mindset in which someone is capable of having that reaction. I just. God almighty, what is the matter with people?
This. I dunno that I pictured Cinna as black explicitly? but certainly as potentially not-white - unlike, say President Snow. Also, I very much did picture him with Lenny Kravitz' kind of build and presence.

And omg, yes Rue. Amandla Stenburg looks just like Rue did in my head. Right down to the curls.
I'm avoiding a deadline.

Shh. *g*
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