Race in Fandom

How Race and Fandom Collide Online and Offline

Diversity in Film – Beyond the Trailer

I disagree with Grace Randolph frequently, but I do find her comments on diversity interesting. And, I do have to show some admiration for her supporting the huge need for diversity in American television and film….as well as speaking out against the whitewashing of historical epics (e.g. the upcoming Ridley Scott film “Exodus”).

Backlash for Wanting Diversity in Film – A Thought

The backlash for wanting diversity (or excuse for not having diversity) in American films is “there are more white people in America than black people” (note: “black people” are used more than the term “non-whites” since ‘race’ is usually talked about whenever black people are involved – something that annoys me).

So, a heroic role that could go to a non-white is possibly given to a white actor – note: a white male actor. And a sidekick or token role is given to a non-white actor or actress. (Or non-whites aren’t in the picture at all).

A non-white doesn’t get to be ‘the hero’ since they are considered a ‘minority’ in overall American society. And, history (like Ridley Scott’s “Exodus” or any biblical story) gets to be rewritten to favor or feature the white male as hero because America has a majority of white people. (If I’m not mistaken, “Noah” had a white cast that was from the UK – well, some were from the UK – yet it was American produced).

It’s so interesting the stupidity that some people will believe or rationalize.

exodus

Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton from Ridley Scott’s upcoming “Exodus.” A film that takes place in Egypt (i.e. Africa).

noah

A poster from Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah.”

Excuses for not seeing female superheroes (or superheroine) is usually “They don’t do too well….” Of course, that is because we never had a superheroine who had a strong screenplay and director.

supergirl

Helen Slater as Supergirl from the 1984 film, “Supergirl.”

If a movie is made half-assed, you obviously won’t get a good movie (e.g. “Elektra”…”Catwoman”…”Tomb Raider” – not based on a ‘superheroine’ per se, but features a miscast Angelina Jolie as the intelligent, acrobatic, independent archaeologist – and “Supergirl”).

Of course, wanting to see a superheroine in a strong film is considering to be a ‘feminist’ statement by primarily some white men. And, it’s not believed to be a feminist statement in regards to equality of the sexes, but the stereotypical ‘man hating’ agenda.

Indeed, it’s so interesting the stupidity that some people will believe or rationalize.

Infraction!

It looks like I got an infraction today by one of the moderators – who goes by the online name Mutai Sho-Rin – for speaking out against some racists (and some misinformed individuals) on the Trektoday BBS. Here is the conversation that took place:

Dear Joel_Kirk,

You have received an infraction at The Trek BBS.

Reason: Trolling

——-

Not that I agree or disagree, you just jerked the thread off its intended path and are trying to get other posters to debate a broad racism claim here. “Drumline” for God’s sake?!

——-

This infraction is worth 1 point(s) and may result in restricted access until it expires. Serious infractions will never expire.

Original Post:

http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?p=9916318

***

My reply:

Thank you for your email.

You mind if I post this infraction on my blog?

I’m actually going to create a Youtube video or separate blog – separate from Trek BBS of course – expanding on my pov as an African American Trek fan and the episode ‘Code of Honor.’

***

Mutai Sho-Rin’s reply:

I believe you are free to quote the message outside the board although I’m not sure as to what end. I must admit my surprise at your reaction though; I fully expected some anger from you due to your defensive sensitivity regarding racial issues.

As a 68 year old guy. born and raised in Kentucky, I was unfortunately awash in racism, sexism and homophobia from the moment I was born. I have stories. As I matured, I was fortunate enough to learn and experience the utter wrongness of all of those hateful beliefs and attitudes, the homophobia being the last domino to fall. Both my wife and I are activists in the equality battles, both here in Orange County and in our other home in Louisville. We have alienated family members and lost friends because of our vocal expressions, but have found many more friends across gender, racial/ethnic and GLBTQ segments of the world as a result.

I just wanted you to know where I was coming from, both in the thread and in real life.

Mutai

***

And, my reply:

Thanks again for email Mutai Sho-Rin:

Indeed, I am upset, but – as a man who is nearly 40 years old and has significant life experiences of his own – I usually try to be diplomatic.

I’ve dealt with my share of racial experiences from the police, at schools, at work…and, as you see, I’m just as vocal about it online. (I do have a few Youtube videos that I’ve used in complaints against schools; complaints currently with the Department of Education).

I don’t want to feel that I’m hindered from speaking out as a bisexual man or an African American. There are a few on the Trek BBS who either don’t know their racist, or they do and they don’t mind trolling. And, while Trek has made a few strides here and there, judging from conversations on the boards and the many depictions that have spawned those conversations, we still have a long ways to go.

–Joel K.

Joel’s Note:
I do find the disclaimer interesting. He doesn’t ‘agree or disagree,’ but he feels the need to give me an infraction. Moreover, the fact that he has ‘something’ against the film “Drumline” (which was used to make a point in the thread I was posting in, whether or not someone likes it and whether or not it is deemed a quality film or not) which also went into his decision for the infraction.

It was also interesting in his disclaimer that he felt a need, albeit a random need,  to give me a brief history of his personal activism. To which asked myself, “To what end?” (Of course, he would ask the same when I asked, out of courtesy, to put our conversation on my blog; the answer should have been obvious given what my blog is focusing on).

Of course, I’m seeing how this particular moderator acts in relation to other posters. As stated in my initial entry for this blog, some moderators don’t come off as open-minded or treat posters as fairly as they should. Like Mutai Sho-Rin (I always want to say “Mushu Pork” or “Murasaki”) I had dealing with a moderator named Karen Archer in the Enterprise boards (i.e. boards that focused on the show “Star Trek: Enterprise”) and she too basically was upset when I commented on another poster and his comments about black people. Not too mention, I almost expected Mutai Sho-Rin – that name! – to tell me the old cliche that he had ‘black friends.’

With this infraction, I was commenting on an episode where I felt it was a bold move to cast mainly black people. However, mainly white fans feel the episode is ‘racist’ because it has one of the aliens kidnap a ‘white’ officer, and it has one of the aliens infatuated with said officer, and it has the white female officer in love with the dark-skinned alien. (Yeah, I can see how racist that episode might be! Maybe for the KKK!) You also have some white fans saying that the aliens are tribal and that the depiction in ‘Code of Honor’ – the TNG episode that was being debated on – is something from 1940s.

It’s interesting how some whites watch a Trek episode then deem themselves experts on black individuals and the black experience. :) And, with this much debated episode from Season 1 “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” it’s mainly white who complain about this episode…or project their own racism in berating this episode.  It’s further interesting to note: We never saw a predominately dark-skinned planet ever again in the series.

I saw nothing ‘tribal’ in the episode, nor was it said in the episode these dark-skinned folk were tribal. Apparently, banging on a drum makes dark-skinned folks ‘tribal.’ (Cue my example of the film “Drumline”!) Too, it’s interesting – I keep on using ‘interesting’ – how these white fans act like individuals being in a tribe is something bad. You have Native Americans, Africans, Asians, South Americans still in tribes today. (Talk about ‘white supremacy’ and racism!)

Too, with all the racism claims, we never hear about things that ‘challenge’ white supremacy’ in “Star Trek.” For instance, you don’t hear much about the blue-skinned aliens called the Andorians referring to humans as ‘pinkskins’ (saying that humans are basically ‘white’) or that all Asian women are automatically paired up with a white male, or that the black characters in Trek are usually made to ‘stay with their kind.’

‘Favorite Much-Maligned TNG Episodes’

Here is another thread on “Trektoday” that has a back-and-forth about black performers in the Trek franchise – particularly “Star Trek: The Next Generation” – and a certain “Next Generation” episode called ‘Code of Honor.’

http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=250648

New Thread on Trektoday about Race in Trek

‘The Racist Legacy of Star Trek’ is a recent thread on Trektoday that has gotten many of the fans (mainly fanboys) in a tizzy. (Did I spell ‘tizzy’ right?)

It seems the common saying among said fans is “You have to really be looking for racism around every corner to consider Star Trek racist.”

A lot of the posters – not all – speak from ‘white privilege.’ And, they feel that they are the voice of authority on race. If something isn’t racial in their eyes, one – usually a person of color like myself – is ‘really looking for racism around every corner.’

Looking at the initial post, it does somewhat come off as a ‘satire’ but the initial poster does bring up some good points. Of course, the initial poster was probably a white guy trying to be funny. (He, the initial poster – and it probably is a ‘he’ – calls himself ‘Afrika Bambaata’ after the rapper/musician).

http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=246349

Joblo.com – ‘Chronicle’ actor Michael B. Jordan May Be the New Johnny Storm

Johnny Storm aka ‘The Human Torch’ of Fantastic Four, previously portrayed by Chris Evans. Of course, there are many ‘purists’ upset about this. Interesting because – as pointed out by one in the comment section – no one complains when a white person portrays a character that was previously Asian. It’s usually ‘race doesn’t matter’ or some other rationalizing. On the other hand, have a black performer be cast as a character that was previously portrayed by a white performer….then ‘we must stick to the source!’

http://www.joblo.com/movie-news/is-michael-b-jordan-set-to-flame-on-for-josh-tranks-fantastic-four-reboot

 

Joblo.com Post – Spike Lee and Old Boy

Based on the posts at Joblo.com, it’s very much assured that the posters are white and male. From my experience, there isn’t much of a liking for Spike Lee, who usually is very vocal about the black experience in America. (Interestingly, the site has a big love for anything Tarantino – related; this is more interesting since Tarantino is known for using the n-word in his films…and he figures it is racist for him not to it, and he believes that ‘black people talk like that.’)

Anywho, there was a recent update on Joblo.com, and it looks to be a mainstream film that will do pretty well. However, some of the comments have those knocking the film before it is even released, or based on ‘hate’ for Spike Lee…

http://www.joblo.com/movie-news/spike-lees-oldboy-remake-test-screening-reaction-says-its-just-as-sick-and-twisted-as-the-origina

Of course, Spike Lee has fans of all colors (black, yellow, white, brown, etc…) and there are those who are not fans for the simple reason they aren’t fans (even I only like about three – maybe four if Old Boy turns out to be as good I think it will be – films of Lee) but JoBlo has certain standards, being a fansite that isn’t as diverse as one might think, and – like many place online – having people say things they wouldn’t say offline.

A recent post on Joblo.com – “300”

A post on Joblo.com, under “The Unpopular Opinion,” did a review of the movie “300,” and received potshots from a few fanboys who didn’t like the author (Alexander Stepenberg) bringing out the racial undertones of the film.

In my own opinion, I feel the author did what many (good) film professors or scholars would like: Looking at the film beyond what is just presented onscreen. Of course, the fact that the author brought up race, turned off many of the posters…who just happen to be primarily white, and male.

(I did post two responses in the thread).

http://www.joblo.com/movie-news/the-unpopular-opinion-300

Experiences As a Black Male On the Star Trek site “Trektoday”

Star Trek overall is said to be progressive show. It was known as the television network show that had the “first interracial kiss,” however, white men were already kissing up Asian women onscreen (i.e. Robert Culp in I Spy, and David McCallum in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.).

Race, when brought up on Trektoday, that is very possibly predominantly white (and male) is trivialized, torn down, or suppressed. Not too much different offline in areas (school systems, job areas, etc.)where there may be a few people of color, specifically African Americans. (Of course, it varies in different parts of the world; but, interestingly, there are posters from various parts of the world, specifically Europe).

I feel an African American Studies major might have a lot to look at, in regards to Trektoday, and race. (I actually know a friend who is going for his Ph.D. in African American Studies…and I may steer him to the site and specific threads).

Online, people are more bolder, and say things that definitely wouldn’t be said in person….or at least wouldn’t be said if they know there won’t be any recourse. I personally “meet” or notice these types of people on news blogs sites, Youtube, what have you. Sometimes, these attitudes are from people who spend a little too much time online.

Trektoday has individuals who falls into the former.

The site also has various Trek authors (yes, those guys who write tie-in novels) and twice I’ve had some experiences where I corrected an author–white male– who made a generalization of the features of black men, as well as an earlier correction who exactly who is “Asian” or how Asian Americans are portrayed in Star Trek. With the correction on the features of black males, I was told by the author that he was insulted….(I find this may be a cop-out excuse, since I came across another white male at my school who was corrected when he used the n-word, and was told the history of said word and why it shouldn’t be used by anyone).

I gave feedback openly to the site stating my uncomfortable feeling as a black male, especially since there isn’t a large presence of people of color on the site. And, the fact that moderators did nothing to “moderate.”  Following this feedback, I was harassed (or, to use an internet term: “flamed”) because I mentioned I was going to add my experience as a black male on Trektoday….and “name names.”

However, there is a clause on the site’s FAQ page about putting names. (Even though I’m not sure when that was actually posted, I’m going to adhere to their criteria, even though the clause about “flaming” was broken when I called out how I was treated by the author (and had some comments from some other authors, also white males).

It was a bit unnerving that I was also harassed by some posters (even moderators) when I didn’t answer a post spontaneously. Too, it seemed to boggle some that I actually have a life aside from Trektoday.

(Granted, not all posters on the site–Trek authors, casual posters, etc.– are belligerent. Depending who they are, some are professional, and just there to have fun).

I am going to make hard copies of some of the posts that were questionable for my records.There was already libelous posts made, from what I witnessed when I gave feedback on my experiences.

Lastly, I plan on looking at other Star Trek sites, and seeing how race and fan-culture mix.

P.S. I think I may break the rule of not “naming names.”

Joel_Kirk

That is who I am on Trektoday. I will possibly use that same name (obviously my own, with a bit of modification for forum usage) with other Star Trek-related sites I may or may not become a part of.

(Edit – 6/3/2012 – per comments below, as it seems like Trektoday’s little rule of posting threads has been broken; a post and poster that support my claims. I will post two more links to questionable postings).

http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=31760&page=225

http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=138686

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