Posts Tagged ‘race

23
Feb
13

“Conventions of Space and Time”: Toby is a douchebag, but not for the reasons you think…

“Conventions of Space and Time” marks Community‘s second exploration of Abed’s autism/undiagnosable-ness through Inspector Spacetime (the first being “Virtual Systems Analysis,” which you can read about, at length, here.) Like “Virtual Systems Analysis,” “Conventions of Space and Time” deals with the perceived threats to Abed and Troy’s friendship—except this time it’s Troy who’s worried about losing Abed to a new relationship. When the study group attends InSpecTiCon, an Inspector Spacetime convention1, Abed finally meets Toby Weeks, an online friend and “arguably the biggest Inspector Spacetime fan in the world.” Troy is instantly jealous of the rapport Abed has with Toby, but little does he know how far Toby is willing to go to keep Abed for himself…

Continue reading ‘“Conventions of Space and Time”: Toby is a douchebag, but not for the reasons you think…’

04
Nov
12

What’s got me Rumpel’d?: Once Upon a Time wasn’t enough

Warning: this post contains discussion of emotional abuse, ableism, and rape. Spoilers through “The Doctor.”

Additional note: Moff’s Law presiding, as usual. If placing Once Upon a Time within a larger social context of racism, ableism, and sexism is upsetting to you, please don’t read and leave nasty comments. I’d hate for you to waste your free time on something that frustrates you so.

About a year ago, I wrote a post about Rumpelstilskin from Once Upon a Time, noting the ableism and racism in his two personas while living in the Enchanted Forrest. If you’ll recall, Rumpelstiltskin the Town Coward walks with a limp and a cane, while Rumpelstiltskin the Dark One is able-bodied with dark, glittery skin. Meant as an introduction to the character, I didn’t say much in that post besides, “You know, racism is the most-likely influence behind one of OUaT’s biggest villains being called ‘the Dark One’ and having the start of his evilness coincide with the darkening of his skin.” In other words, Rumpelstilstkin as the Dark One, while being portrayed by a white man, embodies certain racist tropes that hold up whiteness and lightness as good and darkness as bad or evil.

Today, I wanna expand on that post by looking at how those two personas (Town Coward and the Dark One) relate to Baelfire and the women in Rumpel’s life.

Continue reading ‘What’s got me Rumpel’d?: Once Upon a Time wasn’t enough’

26
Oct
12

The “Ethics” of TNG-era Imperialism and Ableism

Warning: this post contains discussion of suicide and euthanasia. Spoilers for the TNG episodes, “Ethics,” “Too Short a Season,” and “The Loss,” and for the DS9 episode, “Melora.”

Image: a screencap from “Ethics” of Worf lying on a bed in sickbay, looking up at Riker.

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “Ethics,” Mr. Worf acquires a spinal cord injury while on-duty that partially paralyzes him, leaving him unable to walk. By Klingon tradition, he is obligated to commit ritual suicide (hegh’bat) because he can no longer stand to face his enemies in battle. Dr. Crusher and a visiting doctor with a shady ethical record work to cure Worf, while Riker battles with the role Worf has asked him to play in the suicide ritual—namely handing Worf the knife. The episode comes down to Worf undergoing an experimental procedure that will either cure or kill him. The Status Quo being God (despite the promise the series made when it killed off Tasha Yar), Worf is cured and back to his able-bodied self by the end of the episode.

It’s fairly obvious what the Official Disability Rights Opinion™ on this episode would be: the Klingon tradition of hegh’bat is wrong. People with disabilities can live fulfilling lives if society lets them. Picard and Riker articulate this Opinion™ quite plainly in the episode.

And while I certainly agree that hegh’bat is wrong, this is Star Trek. The Official Disability Rights Opinion™ isn’t enough to understand what’s going on. We gotta bring in critiques of racism, colonialism, and the Western concept of the independent individual—critiques that come from the work performed by women of color in transnational feminist theory and activism.

In other words, this post is gonna acknowledge that Klingons don’t appear to have a very progressive position on disability, but mainly it’s gonna turn around and look at the hypocrisy in Picard and Riker’s moral high ground regarding hegh’bat. And to do this we have to look at one of the major problems I have with TNGContinue reading ‘The “Ethics” of TNG-era Imperialism and Ableism’

23
Jul
12

Twin Peaks: Manufacturing Quirkiness… and Danger

Warning: this post contains discussions of rape, child sexual abuse, and incest. Spoilers for Twin Peaks and Fire Walk with Me.

For those of you who don’t know, Twin Peaks is a cult drama that ran for two seasons from 1990-1991. In simple terms, the show is about the ripples created in a small Washington town after homecoming queen Laura Palmer is found dead. FBI agents come to town, secrets are revealed, new secrets are created, and everyone gets involved in at least one or two love triangles. Despite being a crime drama/primetime soap opera, Twin Peaks featured a lot of spiritual or supernatural elements and mysteries that would lay the groundwork for series like LOSTCarnivàle, and even Fringe (in which “science” becomes its own type of spirituality that allows people to share consciousness, speak to the dead, and transport souls). However, Twin Peaks will probably be remembered most for being weird, popularizing the Quirky Town trope through the town of Twin Peaks, and delving into some pretty weird shit in the spiritual realm (i.e., the Black Lodge, the Red Room). How the series creates this aura of quirkiness and weirdness is suspect.

Let’s start with the Quirky Town trope. As anyone knows, Quirky Towns are made up of Eccentric Townsfolk. On Gilmore Girls, Stars Hollow, the quirkiness capital of Connecticut, is home to Kirk (who holds a different job each episode), a troubadour, and Miss Patty (grand dame of dance and frequent name-dropper) just to name a few. Watching Twin Peaks, the purported mecca of Eccentric Townsfolk, I was struck by how very few residents were quirky compared to other Quirky Towns. I admit this is my own perception of the show colored by my own personal experiences. So why did I read Twin Peaks residents as less eccentric than I expected given the show’s hype? I can think of three possible reasons: 1. I grew up watching shows inspired by Twin Peaks‘ Quirky Town-ness that turned the trope up to 11 (e.g., Gilmore Girls). 2. I am weirder than the people of Twin Peaks and therefore find them normal. 3. I don’t find people with disabilities quirky or eccentric just for having disabilities. In my opinion, Twin Peaks tries to create of an aura of quirkiness by having a lot of characters with disabilities. How many? Let’s break it down.

Continue reading ‘Twin Peaks: Manufacturing Quirkiness… and Danger’

02
Jun
12

Spock the Super Hybrid and the Problems with Hybrid Vigor

Spock–is there anything that motherfucker can’t do?

Seriously, the man has not met a computer he couldn’t fix, a foe he couldn’t neutralize, or a mind he couldn’t meld. The only game he ever lost at is pon farr (which, I imagine, is why many Trekkies have such a hate boner for T’Pring) and even then he technically won at the kal-if-fee. (You might argue that Spock failed the Kobayashi Maru at the end of Wrath of Khan, but I’d say coming back from the dead counts as a pass.)

Spock’s vegetarian, Plomeek-infused awesome sauce unfortunately falls into a trope known in the biology world as hybrid vigor, which refers to “superior” offspring created by members of two different species mating. Optimally, the wee baby animal will have all of the strengths of mommy animal’s species and daddy animal’s species with few or none of the two species’ shortcomings. Spock has the supersmarts, strength, and long lifespan of a Vulcan and the adaptability and innovative thinking of a Human. Now, why’s this hybrid vigor business a bad thing again? Well, as I’m sure you’ve realized by now, alien species on Star Trek represent different nations and ethnoracial groups, and, even when it’s not entirely clear what group of real life Earth people a given Star Trek alien species is supposed to correspond to, interspecies interactions and conflict are metaphors for intercultural/racial tensions and cooperations. (Which makes that scene where Wesley Crusher asks a new Benzite crewmember how people of his species tell each other apart really messed up. Shut up, Wesley.) In Star Trek logic, Spock’s hybrid vigor results from metaphorical race-mixing.

Continue reading ‘Spock the Super Hybrid and the Problems with Hybrid Vigor’

13
Mar
12

Episode Recap: “Clarence Montgomery,” Alcatraz

You wouldn’t know from looking at the first seven episodes of the new series Alcatraz, but Alcatraz prison incarcerated black inmates–in segregated cell blocks. Finally, after being delayed two weeks by an unholy conspiracy between NASCAR, rain, and the FOX scheduling department, audiences got to see the other side of the color line at Alcatraz. In “Clarence Montgomery,” we follow, you guessed it, Clarence Montgomery, a newly returned ’63 who might be one of the most important Alcatraz inmates we’ve met yet. In the interest of shielding innocent eyes from spoilers, follow me behind the jump. Continue reading ‘Episode Recap: “Clarence Montgomery,” Alcatraz’

07
Mar
12

What’s got me Rumpel’d?: A whole clusterfrell of wrong

Disclaimer: Just because I critique (or snark) something that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it. I critique because I care. Also, if you think I’m “reading too much into things,” please to be getting basic understanding of how symbols function in fiction. 

Image: Once Upon a Time's Rumpelstiltskin, a middle-aged white man wearing raggedy clothing, leans on his walking stick while holding his thirteen-year-old son, Bae to his chest.

Rumpelstiltskin–one of the classic European fairy tales that never got its own Disney film. Perhaps because of the lack of romance or the complete absence of swashbuckling or maybe it might have to do with the main conflict hinging upon parents selling their children. Who knows? Rumeplstiltskin has finally seen his day. More people are hearing his name than ever before (which, given who we’re talking about, isn’t such a plus for the man) due to his main character status on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, the show where all of the famous European fairy tale characters have forgotten who they are and have been cursed to live in New England for all eternity. Like all of the show’s characters, Rumpelstiltskin is a bit different from how the brothers Grimm wrote him originally.

For the members of my rapt audience (all ten of you) who are unfamiliar with the original Rumpel, here’s the story as it was passed down to me (through storybooks, films, television) as a child… Continue reading ‘What’s got me Rumpel’d?: A whole clusterfrell of wrong’




Space Crip

People with disabilities? In my sci-fi? It's more likely than you think.