Thursday, June 22, 2017

#OttoWarmbier & #PhilandoCastile Prove How Little You Care About Children

I have been trying to give as much of a fuck about Otto Warmbier as our elected officials do. If you follow any politician on Twitter of Facebook, it’s a veritable bukkake of “thoughts and prayers”. They are really sad that this young man is dead.
I kind of get it: Warmbier was prosecuted and convicted for the crime of theft and/or vandalism in North Korea, and he was sentenced to 15  years of hard labor because of it. His early release was a surprise, as was his comatose state upon arrival back to the US. He is now dead, and we all have a bunch of questions about what the hell happened to him in prison? We can’t trust what North Korea says. They are known for lying to cover their tracks. Sometimes they just lie. It reminds me of when Sandra Bland died in lock-up under mysterious circumstances after essentially being arrested for not putting out her cigarette. The difference is that everyone demonized her, and admonished her for not doing what the officer said…even though she did. No outpouring of thoughts and prayers for her.
Of course, she has two strikes against her: she's a woman and black. Had Otto been in this country and black, it is a guarantee that people currently lamenting would be calling him a thug, saying that the punishment was harsh but he DID break the law, that he must have done something to get himself killed. Either that, or they'd say absolutely nothing, since they don't care. You know who else I didn’t hear any thoughts and prayers for? The children who are victims of or adjacent to the brutality.
While walking to her mosque for worship, Nabra Hassanen and her friends were attacked by a man in a car. Her friends fleed and got away, but she was not so lucky. She was beaten to death. It is possible that she was sexually assaulted. Her body was dumped by a lake. She was 17. Her impromptu memorial on Dupont Circle was set ablaze, supposedly by accident. On top of all this, the police are investigating the crime as a “road rage incident”. This was as much a road rage incident as Emmett Till’s death was a “tiff over a woman”. Why not just spit on her grave? There was never a time when I got cut off by an asshole in a Hummer that I had the urge to assault and beat the driver to death and then dump his body. This was a hate crime, no matter what the catalyst was. Whether it was because she was Muslim or because she was  female, Nabra was beaten and killed because of a deep-seated hate in her murderer’s heart. Nabra was 17. She didn’t deserve anything that happened to her. I haven’t seen anyone in office deride the crime against her or the defacing of her memorial, save for the two Muslim ones.
Charleena Tyler, the woman in Seattle who was fatally shot by police answering her 911 robbery call, was pregnant. She was also known to have mental health issues. Per dashcam audio, the officers knew that. Seattle officers are required a choice of non-lethal weapon when they are on patrol: a baton, a taser, or pepper spray. The chose none. They decided that lethal force was the best choice. They killed her in front of her children. There’s audio and video to corroborate that. I realize that she was wielding two knives at the time, but she was also a tiny woman, and these were two large officers. WHy wouldn’t they have their non-lethal choices when one of them was familiar with Lyles and knew her potential? More importantly, she was killed in front of her children.
She. Was. Killed. In. Front. Of. Her. Children.
Jeronimo Yanez  was acquitted of manslaughter for shooting unarmed Philando Castile. He gave Castile a dubious honor by inducting him into the Schrödinger's Negro Hall of Fame: He was murdered, but nobody murdered him. People don’t give a damn about that, though. They don’t give a damn that Yanez pulled him over based on mistaken identity. They don’t care that Castile explicitly stated that he had a gun in the glove box, and that he had a license for it. They don’t care that Yanez didn’t listen when Castile said he was NOT reaching for his gun, but his ID. They could care that there was a child in the back seat, a child who could have died had Yanez shifted his angle slightly. If you just listen to the original Facebook Live audio, or the newest damning dashcam audio, you can hear that little girl distraught and not knowing what is going on. It will haunt you.  They could care that by all accounts, over 300 kids are going to miss a man who loved his job so much that he would go out of his way to put on work. I hear nothing from our esteemed “leaders” about that, though.
I could go on. The police who shot and killed Korryn Gaines didn’t give enough of a shit about the child she was holding that they shot him, too. When Betty Shelby was acquitted of shooting unarmed Terence Crutcher in the back using the brilliant and original “He was a big scary negro and I’m a tiny white woman” defense, I doubt that she cared about the children she left fatherless. She spent a lot of time claiming that she was the real victim, though.
You can give me the usual spiel about how these people who were killed in the US by government authorities did something wrong, or they had a record/history already, or they should have done what the officers told them to do. Beside the fact that most of them did, if you bring up any of those arguments, then you invalidate your sorrow and disgust over Otto Warmbier’s death. He actually deliberately broke the law, no matter how messed up the punishment was. So I know they have potential for empathy for unbalanced consequences for minor infractions (or no infractions). Yet, I haven’t heard a thing for all the people who were so distraught over Otto Warmbier’s death. I get that they don’t give a damn about black adults, but how about those children who watched their mothers die. For the people who claim to be “pro-life”, where is the uproar over the loss of Lyles’s unborn baby? I’ve not heard a word.

Every time I head to or from the airport, I see these two billboards that seem to have been made by the No Limit Records graphic designer. They're plastered with kids in traction, and it says I  the middle. The giant tag line says, “How much longer will children have to suffer!” All this time, I thought the exclamation instead of a question mark was the work of a moron who didn't spell check. It seems apparent that it's actually a joyous exclamation.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Another Case for Reading Bitch Planet

Such good prose
with such a big problem...
I know a lot of people who take a few issues with Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and I can understand why. It is a BRILLIANT piece of modern literature that properly stokes fears of a dystopian future. It is riveting to read, even more riveting to hear Claire Danes read it to you (Thanks,!), and the Hulu series is a great watch, even with the liberties taken with the original text. Despite that, there are a few cringe worthy issues I have with it. The fact that women are categorized for specific roles like livestock is rough, that some women are essentially being systematically sexually assaulted and in order to further the human race, and brainwashed to think everything is fine is even worse, but that is also part of the horror of the book. It’s 1984 with rape, and it is not pretty.
Also, as I stated before, it is also something that has happened in history before. Enslaved African women were treated exactly like the women in Handmaid’s Tale. Atwood seems to have a hard time acknowledging that. In the book, she spent about 15 words in a 300-page book on what happened to people of color in Gilead. Jewish people got at least a few paragraphs. The TV show hosts a diverse cast, but that is only because the producers didn’t want to deal with the issue of race…but by NOT dealing with it, they kind of did. At a minimum, though, they showed that talent comes in all shapes, sizes, and hues. Overall, though, as good as Handmaid’s Tale is, it is a dystopian nightmare, especially for white feminism.
Literally flipping off the Patriarchy.
Enter Bitch Planet. Whether you are into comics or not, you will enjoy this book. Bitch Planet is also a dystopian patriarchal future with horrors befalling women. This one takes place on a women’s prison planet, where the offenders’ crimes are primarily that they are women. Too fat? Jail. Too thin? Jail. Too promiscuous? Jail. Too prudish? Jail. Gay? Jail. Transgender? Jail, plus torture…so that part is pretty much like modern times. For the women who are NOT imprisoned, they have to put up with condescending micro-aggressions throughout their day-to-day lives that are essentially macro-aggressions in this shit world. The wives are trophies who have no real power. The working women cannot talk back to the clueless men ‘splaining every little thing to them. The condescension they endure should make anyone jump someone, which of course is also an imprisonable crime.
Both story arcs are solid and find the women both in and out of prison finding their power and harnessing it. The author, Kelly Sue DeConnick, writes Bitch Planet in a style that that makes the dialogue in the comic feel conversational, as though she just recorded and transcribed the characters’ interactions. Most comics, even ones I know and adore, have a feel of every speech bubble feeling like an announcement. Bitch Planet flows. Also, I was a little bit worried about DeConnick’s declaration that she was going to make a deliberately “feminist agenda” comic in response to sad boys’™ disdain for her version of Captain Marvel. I am all for a deliberately feminist agenda, but is it going to be fully feminist, or more white feminist lit? Is this going to be Orange Is the New Black in space? Is it going to be another white savior trope to all of the PoC prisoners?
The short answer to these questions is NOOOOPE. What sticks out to me about Bitch Planet is that all of the main characters are people of color! The first panels of the first issue depict an incarcerated staff as varied and diverse as a college brochure, except it is authentic. Imagine Orange is the New Black, except nobody gives a shit about Piper, because seriously, fuck Piper. She’s so goddamn boring. Much to my satisfaction, the characters have their own personalities; not one is a stereotype. They’ve got personal histories, and they rock. Even the male heroes of the story get it right. It shows that you can identify with characters even if you are not the particular demographic of the character, but damn, it’s nice to see a plethora of demographics. Kelly Sue DeConnick crafted a story that encompasses everyone in the world, not just a small majority.
The "A" stands for "aider/abetter"
I am in love with this book, so much so, that I actually followed the many that connected with the story and got a “Non-Compliant” tattoo. I even reached out to the author about designing it. I broke my promise to never get a pop culture inspired tattoo! I’m trying to be a better dude in general after reading it. You may not be as moved to smash the patriarchy with a sledge hammer or have your viewpoint etched into your flesh if you read the first or second story arc, but dammit it is poignant, especially in these times. Bitch Planet is what Handmaid’s Tale could have been if Atwood was down with intersectional feminism. You need Bitch Planet in your life.
…Still maybe pick up Handmaid’s Tale, but still…Bitch Planet. Kelly Sue DeConnick is woke AF.

Eleanor Doane lives.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Bill Maher Totally Sings NWA Lyrics Loudly in His Car

Bill Maher is that one white dude in your crew who gets too comfortable singing along to Tupac lyrics without self-editing. He lets that n-word out, and you sit there scratching your head. Normally, it’s a no-brainer: white dude says “nigger”, white dude gets a beat down. But he has been in the hood for so long; he grew up here in the same straights as you, and he probably doesn’t know better. The only thing is that Bill Maher didn’t grow up in the hood. He’s been fronting like he’s that one white kid from the hood who’s down for a while, and we’ve pretty much been letting it slide.
When Bill Maher described himself as a “house nigger” jokingly on his HBO show this past week, people were shocked and appalled and calling for his ouster from the public eye. On the other hand, I was wondering when he’d finally slip up and say “nigger” in public. It was only a matter of time. If you know anything about Bill Maher, it should be that he is oblivious of many social queues, like how not cool it is for a white dude to say “nigger”, even jokingly, on national television. It doesn’t matter how many black women he has dated. Fluid exchange with black people doesn’t give you a pass.
Is Bill Maher a racist? Probably not more than any other oblivious white dude, so yes, but not viciously. What is interesting is that there was little outrage over his public comments about Muslims and Islam beyond a tiff on his show with Ben Affleck. He has said a lot worse and veiled it under the guise of being ecumenically anti-religious. However, the lopsided vitriol that he spews about Islam has been on display for a while, from asking Zayn Malik where he was during the Boston Marathon bombing to calling Islam anti-American to claiming that millions of Muslims supported the Charlie Hebdo attack. To be clear, of the approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, only about 150,000 are actually terrorists. Most Muslims think the terrorists are assholes, so Maher’s numbers are off.
The outrage over him saying “house nigger” Is going to be overblown by the right, claiming that Bill Maher is an example of the “racist liberals” and then blah, blah some skewed reference about Democrats being originally pro-slavery, and overblown by the left, claiming that this is somehow Trump’s fault for allowing this type of language to be used in public again, and he should be fired and strapped to a Kafka-esque torture machine that tattoos his apology onto his chest until he passes out. The reality is that Bill Maher has always been kind of a dick and a troll for ratings. He just slipped and used a word on the air that he’s been using when mics are off. Everyone needs to question why they’re outraged over this, but they’re fine with his rampant islamophobia…and sexism.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Wonder Woman tl;dr: Black Amazons with Natural Hair

She's about to beat up Germans and then downplay her Palestine comments.

Many things have already been said about Wonder Woman, and I hardly respect any review, even the good ones. Everything is partisan now. Of COURSE a movie about a woman with “the strength of ten men” who was born on an island full of strong, independent, intelligent women who need no men to survive is going to have very skewed reviews. Expect some to say that this is a triumph for womanhood while others say it is an attack on manhood and civilization.
My assessment? It was aight. I would watch it in the theaters, but mostly because if it flops, Hollywood yutzes WILL say, “See??? No one will watch a female-led hero flick! All of our shitty excuses were justified!” Mind you, the last two big time female superhero flicks were Catwoman, which...just no…and Elektra, which spinned off Daredevil, for which nearly everyone wants ocular reparations.
Wonder Woman had everything most male superhero movies have: Stuff blowing up, flashback origin stories, schlocky dialogue, a romance that flourishes in about the span of a Spring Break Cancun weekend, European villains getting punched in the face, men explaining stuff, and more stuff blowing up. The criticism is swifter than usual.
First draft: Skinny AF
First, people have been saying since Batman v. Superman that Gal Gadot is too “skinny” to be Wonder Woman. So body shaming the star of a hero film all about women’s empowerment is on the table now?  Beside the fact that the Amazons were all shapes and sizes, from tall/skinny to short/skinny to kind of beefy but not too much because they still need soft titties, Gal Gadot has just about the same proportions of the original Wonder Woman in the comics, so maybe refer to the source material before calling out her size. The “beefier” Wonder Woman is an invention of the late 1970s and 1980s. We all know that we would have LOVED 1995 Lucy Lawless to play Wonder Woman, but we also know that Warner Brothers and DC were too busy making excuses in 1995 to make a Wonder Woman story happen. Look, I get it. No one asked for Halle Berry as Storm. We all wanted Angela Bassett. That didn’t happen either. Let’s all get over that.
The week-long romance thing is a favorite trope of all action movies. I get it; you have two hours to stuff in some love. You HAVE to make this shit quick. One that sticks out in my mind the most is the father-son bond of Luke and Obi-Wan. Luke gets all weepy over Obi-Wan dying about a day after he met him. Dude, your unbeknownst twin sister lost her PLANET! Can you get yourself together??? Anyway, with regard to Wonder Woman, I get that Steve Trevor is her love interest in the comic, but I’m sure everyone would have been fine with the awkward sexual tension of Trevor just explaining why she can’t run around in 1910s London with an armor bustier and short leather skirt. We would have been more entertain with Wonder Woman saving his silly ass every time he gets in a jam. After all, that is true to the original comic. You love her, Steve? Really? It’s been a week, and y’all kiss like 11-year olds trying to awkwardly kiss for the first time. And how did she not castrate you with her super-kegals?
The schlocky dialogue was prime schlock. It was as if they consulted a comic writer from the 1940s to put together the script. It was amazingly corny dialogue, and I relished in it. I have no problem forgiving the thick Israeli accent of the title hero, even though she was born of Greek mythology, just as much as I can handle the completely non-German accents of the German antagonists. It all made the movie kind of funny. Let’s be real: do we really expect Cannes-worthy dialogue from a movie about people throwing trucks in their underwear? If that is the bar you’re using, then you’d best be using it for EVERY superhero movie, not just Wonder Woman.
The action scenes had everything modern superhero movie has. There were ricocheting bullets, trucks and tanks being thrown like Hot Wheels cars, and high speed punches and kicks inter-mingled with super slo-mo cgi side angle near-misses, followed by huge blows to German people’s bodies. In one scene, Wonder Woman took out a sniper by taking out a church steeple. She punched a goddamn CHURCH!
This is Patty Jenkins’s first superhero/action film, and I think for a first venture, she did pretty damn well, given the script. Before that, she did Monster and A Modern Affair, and a bunch of television shows, none of which were literal “punch you in the face” thrillers...though her two Entourage episodes gives her experience with making bro-dude couture.
Overall, I’d say that Wonder Woman is a step above Batman v. Superman, but probably not as good as the Avengers series. For one thing, it is a superhero movie about women warriors, and it barely passes the Bechdel Test! Yes, the women talked about something other than a man, but they still talked about a weapon that was meant to kill a man! The whole time, you knew that the Amazons’ training was for the sole purpose of defeating one man in particular. It barely passes the Mako Mori Test, because even though Diana eventually carves her own path, like in the comic, her initial quest was to help a dude do something.
Plus side: Black Amazons everywhere. Black Amazons with natural hair. There was no relaxer in Themyscira! Not even any Afro Sheen! Every black Amazon on there had locks or afro puffs or bantu knots or something in between. Also, the black Amazons didn’t die first! I wish they had more than 4 or 5 lines, but dammit, I was happy they were strong black women for the reason that EVERY woman was strong and not because they were sassy mamas or something. Thank goodness they didn’t incorporate the original stereotypes of black women in the original comic into this movie...but many apologies to the Native Americans, Indians, and Scots who watch this...If it’s any consolation, they DID all survive through the credits. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Guys...Black women with natural hair...just watch and see for yourself.

Monday, May 22, 2017

RompHim Room & Friends

Let’s talk about RompHims for a minute. It is now all the rage that I have only seen in photos on the internet, not in stores. At the heart of it, they’re just rompers for dudes. They can’t be called “rompers”, though, because then people would associate them with women, and women BAD! I would have come up with a better name than “RompHim”, though. How about Bromper? Was that taken already?
Anyway, the RompHim have been the target of many angry people. I haven’t seen dudes so angry at something on the internet since the rise of all woman pop bands…so like yesterday. Why all this hate for the Jumpshorts? Is it that they’re completely covering, yet really short? Is it the question of how you take a shit when you wear them? Could it be the dumb name? Maybe all three, but I doubt it.
The Bag-o-Man is not a new thing. Men’s swimsuits up to the 1930s were essentially Mompers. Sean Connery wore one in Goldfinger. There are catalogs from the 1970s full of jumpsuits, and some of them were short onesies for men. Just last year, Cam Newton rocked a RompBro. What’s old is new again. As with systematic racism and sexism, people are acting like it’s never existed until now, and unlike systematic sexism and racism, people are reacting with rage and disgust at the idea of a Bronesie.
The hate that it is receiving is likely a disdain for clothing and behavior that infantilize adults. The very name “romper” reminds me of kids running around in onesies, because trying to put more complicated clothes on a little toddler who is just going to get it dirty in 5 minutes is difficult enough. Humans in their grabby larval stage are very wriggly and hard to keep still. More likely, the hate is for all things perceived as feminine being made for men. I know many people who either refuse to wear a RompHim or say that anyone wearing one deserves a beat down. Unless it is a confederate flag laden Hitlomper, I don’t think violence is necessary. We associate adult rompers with women’s fashion, and as with anyone who wishes to bend social gender norms, the makers of the RompHim Kickstarter have been met with violent resistance. Hoteps and right-wingers alike accuse the Sack-o-Mans of eroding the image of the “real man” and “effeminizing” men even more. A few years ago, skinny jeans for men were the thing to hate. Back when I was younger, earrings in men were the target. There was even a “gay” ear and “straight” ear. Back in the 16th Century, men wore heels. Makeup was a mainstay for men from the 17th century all the way back to the first kingdoms of the world. Fashion itself is not a definer of gender or of masculinity and femininity. It is only what people say about a certain product of fashion. The thing is that hoteps and right-wingers just hate women, so anything that reminds them of women will be met with disgust. The problem is that ideas like theirs still permeate throughout society in diluted forms veiled as either genuine concern or just a target for hate; much the way people will spit venom at the mention of certain girl bands or women pulp authors.
Don’t worry: the Momper will not topple Western civilization. It may be a fad for the summer (again), but I’m pretty sure that 100 years from now, the tomes of history that is uploaded into children’s brains will not mark the Bronesie as the catalyst that launched 1000 nuclear warheads. We can chill with the ridiculous hate for them for hate’s sake. All of you know damn well you wouldn’t go up to James Bond or Cam Newton and call them punks for wearing one. Though I doubt I would buy one myself…But I DID just buy a pair of skinny jeans, and if there’s a kente-inspired Afromper, I would wear it just to piss off hoteps…

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