Featured Post

NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

SKINNY BUTTS AND ALL

CBR's "Minorities Bitching All the Time" thread (not the real name, of course) gave me another reason to waste time with my own bitching about SJWs. Specifically, Sergio Mims, author of this online essay, takes great pleasure in the box-office success of the currently released black-themed comedy GIRLS TRIP. OK, I wouldn't begrudge anyone, whatever their own race, the privilege of celebrating when a movie that represents a marginalized group-- that of black women, in this case-- enjoys hefty profits.

However, I have an ethical problem when the same writer use his bully pulpit not only to display schadenfreude at the failure of other films simply because they don't feature POC actors, but also displays a sizable amount of reverse racism. Here's Sims on VALERIAN:

It didn't help to make a confusing, visually tedious (despite all the special effects) film based on a mid-1960s French comic book that no one heard of in the United States with two charisma challenged, skinny white leads that no one ever heard of before 

There are three or four things that are stupid or at least dubious about this statement, but I'll confine myself to the one I mentioned on the CBR thread. I took issue with the idiocy of Sims claiming that the supposed physical qualities of lead actors had some relevance to the film supposedly being bad, and wondered rhetorically if it would have been a better film if the leads would have still been "charisma challenged." but "fat and black" rather than "skinny and white." Naturally, I didn't get any substantive debate, but I decided to elaborate my position anyway, saying in part:


The point is that the writer of the article thinks it's OK to use both "skinny" and "white" as pejoratives, which they should not be, any more than "fat" and "black."
Yet try to imagine the reaction if a professional reviewer claimed he hated seeing a Queen Latifah movie because he didn't personally enjoy watching a "fat black woman." All three words are completely descriptive of Queen Latifah, but the bare assertion would be deemed racist because it's automatically racist to criticize black people.  The logic of the accusation, such as it is, is rooted in the idea that any criticism of marginalized people is also an attempt to further marginalize them. This is a fallacy, as is the idea that you can make white people want to see more POC in the cinema by fostering a negative visual image of white people. Hence the lunkheaded remark of the reviewer, who's OK with racist body-shaming as long as it's directed at white actors.

I also remarked that within the ten to twenty years it's become a common thing in pop culture to have black characters piss on white characters by remarking on their "skinny butts" or "narrow behinds." I assume that this is some sort of negative compensation, in which said characters represent that part of real black culture that isn't content to glorify "big butts" (paging Sir Mix-a-lot) but has to try to shame anyone who doesn't have a particularly protuberant posterior. There is also, in black pop culture, a lot of anxiety about the fate of "acting too white." So why is it not 'acting white" to attempt to assign negative qualities to another race due to their physical qualities?

Here, by the way, are the actors who are supposedly too "skinny" for Mister Sims, and I'd have to say that they look pretty normally proportioned to me.



By the way, male lead Dane DeHaan seems to be a fairly experienced American actor, appearing in the second AMAZING SPIDER-MAN film, and while female lead Cara Delevingne started as a model, she showed up in the box office success SUICIDE SQUAD. It's true that neither actor is well-known enough to carry a film. But would Sims be protesting the leads' lack of box-office clout if they weren't white? Suppose the characters Valerian and Laureline-- who have always been Caucasians of implied French ancestry-- had been played by two other SQUAD actors, Viola Davis and Jay Hernandez. Would we hear protests about the foolishness of casting them, since neither has proved capable of carrying a film-- or would that be DIFFERENT?



No comments: