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in a web of glass, pinned to the edges of vision

--so onwards to cinema criticism

I'd forgotten how often we saw Magritte

mucha mosaic

--so onwards to cinema criticism

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...but what do we call it when:
-person not of color writes a story and does her/his level best to get inside the headspace of characters who are of color, and treats them as respectfully as she/he can
-persons of color go off on (to paraphrase) white imperialist cultural genocide- and refuse to even read the story / view the film?

I'd be horribly disgusted if a black guy did a movie about white people, and white people were horrified and up in arms because he doesn't understand the white culture so obviously they shouldn't even see the movie, myself. And I wouldn't be disgusted at the director; I'd be disgusted by the white people shrieking about their culture being misappropriated. So... why is it that if a white guy makes a movie that's framed in his understanding of non-white culture, it's cool to throw racist epithets at him?

No, I really am not trolling here: I'm genuinely startled at what seems to be a huge degree of duplicity, from where I'm sitting. I can certainly see going 'yeah, Kevin Costner? You're clueless about my people, and let me tell you why, utilizing my informed opinion as to what you missed in your movie, and my quite simply larger grasp of the issues you glossed or missed'. I don't think it's cool to run around spouting off 'oh yeah my mother's brother's friend said her husband thought that Dances With Wolves is horribly racist so I'm gonna run it down everywhere, and never see it' everywhere you go... Hell, why would you need to slag Dances With Wolves for being racist? It's a Kevin Costner movie, that right there is enough argument to never see it in your life.

Eeh. Anyway. Am I completely insane, or is there a point to not going off about a work of fiction that you haven't encountered even 1% of?

OK, I definitely have a better handle on what I was missing, here- many thanks to all!
I think some of this question came up after last night's movie watching: the housemate brought home a recent Mexican sci-fi film named 'Sleep Dealer'. Very good movie- I recommend it highly if you either speak Spanish or have patience to read subtitles- which is a discussion of the border politics in southern California / Mexico (I fear I didn't catch where the main character's hometown was, more specifically than 'it's in Mexico, and that definitely is too dry to be the Yucatan'). I think watching it had some hand in this issue cropping up to be discussed, rather than me just putting the question aside.
  • If tens of millions of dollars were spent on making sure hundreds of millions of people all over the world were exposed to "oh yeah my mother's brother's friend said her husband thought that Dances With Wolves is horribly racist so I'm gonna run it down everywhere, and never see it" the presumed equity of message and counter-message in the term "reverse racism" might have some play.
  • You're doing a good impression of someone who's trolling for someone who says he's not doing so.

    Wanna be less vague? That might help get an honest answer, but I'm not approaching what you've written thus far.

    Starting this off the way you have is the same thing as writing "Not to be racist, but..."
    • Fair point on the start off there, no question- and thank you for calling me out on that. No, I'm not trolling, I swear- I'm just trying to get my head around the point that I was missing: nihilistic_kid handed me that point neatly wrapped, with a bow on top. I keep forgetting about the inherent privilege aspect of any discussion of race I participate in, and am debating what that says about me.
  • And just a reminder: white peoples' "level best"... are we really doing the intent vs. impact dance again? Really? Come the fuck on.
  • Sigh. *hug* Thank you. I get what you're saying.
  • one off-the-cuff thought: when you've seen the same trope a thousand times, it's a little hard to care enough to distinguish between the crap and the maybe-it's-not crap.

    specifics would really help here; vague hypotheticals are difficult to address and feel trollish even though I'm sure you didn't mean them to be.

    if this is about the Avatar hoo-hah, I thought A Newitz's article on i09 had an interesting pov: http://io9.com/5422666/when-will-white-people-stop-making-movies-like-avatar?skyline=true&s=x
  • Saw this the other day. Maybe it puts things into words a little better.

    A lot of times, stuff about race skirts around the edges a lot. Sometimes it's easier to casually diss something when you're choir preaching than it is to try to explain it to someone else who doesn't already see things your way and maybe never will. I agree that well thought-out criticisms like the one I linked to are a lot more valueable as debunking devices, but it's not like I've seen every movie ever made that my gut tells me is going to be awful just so I can criticize it more effectively. This may be a failing on my part, and it might make my feelings toward Twilight less than authoritative, but it's human. 90% of everything is kneejerk.
    • --yes, that is a nice article. I'm somewhat amused to have just finished reading it as you posted.

      Yeah, with Avatar? I wasn't going to go because of issues of race; I was going to not go because James Cameron. The guy directed Titanic, for the love of God: there's only so mediocre Avatar could possibly not be.
    • (no subject) - mothwentbad - Expand
  • I have no intention of ever seeing Brokeback Mountain, because I don't care how good it's supposed to be, I'm sick of movies where the queers die at the end. Similarly, I have no intention of seeing either Avatar because I'm sick of the premise of one and the whitewashing in the other, and I have little enough free time and money as it is.

    There is a LOT more to address here, like the idea that your two examples are equivalent, the idea that someone doing their "level best" is not still impacted racism in our culture or that if you're trying hard enough then your behavior or your artwork can't possibly be racist, the idea that a person should pay money to sit through something they know is going to be painful and anger-inducing just so their opinion on it will be "more informed", and the idea that it's not important to point out that DWW was racist because it should already be obvious that it's a bad movie. I hope, though, that if you take a step back and do some more thinking and reading, you'll be able to see for yourself where you're going wrong there.
  • (no subject) -
    • Yeah- they're definitely white-boys. That's a point that I had missed, too. Thank you!
  • (no subject) -
    • *nod* I like wildpaletz's point especially (which echoes nihilistic_kid's, at that): there's tens of millions spent on these white-boy fantasies about race and otherness, so why the hell aren't there even hundreds of thousands spent on broadcasting the perspective that isn't weighted by privilege and race??
  • You might want to check out this review as well:

  • Don't you make judgments about which movies you want to see and don't want to see based on trailers and reviews? And perhaps interviews with the director and/or screenwriter?

    I don't think anyone has the obligation to go see every movie without factoring in the ways in which that movie is presented in advance by the people responsible for it.
  • Race Fail is sooooooooooooo January 2009.
  • I probably should've asked how many black people in the movie business don't have a clue about white culture, now that I think of it.
  • You've had some eloquent replies here which really did a nice job on the main point, but I wanted to take a minute and commiserate about people who critique a work without bothering to experience it. The internet version is "tl;dr" (too long; didn't read) and I often wish people who behaved this way would just tattoo it on their forehead so I could see them coming and avoid them.
    • I really am lucky in having some erudite bastards reading my LJ, indeed. If I hunt amongst my readers for intelligent thought, I'm never hunting too far. I love alla you guys for that.

      And yeah: 'tl: dr' makes me wanna say 'oh for fuck's sake, go back to the playpen'.
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