Friday, October 23, 2015

This is a Rant

They see me rantin', I'm ravin'...

Very much not into this ^^^ lately

The Dotytron has some extended family members who do I put this delicately...ummm...RACISTS?!?  They are "old stock" Canadians and lately, I'm like, done with that shiz.  An uncle referred to a musician at a Jamaican resort he didn't care for as a "Rasta piece of crap" (you are surprised that your musician in JAMAICA was [might] have been Rastafarian?!).  That same uncle also believes President Obama is a Muslim, and furthermore, THINKS THERE'S SOMETHING INHERENTLY WRONG ABOUT THAT.  A groomsman at a wedding that I (thankfully) didn't go to, used the N-word IN THE RACIST, NON-REAPPROPRIATING WAY.  An Aunt re-posted a picture of the twin towers with accompanying text to the effect of: "this image is going to offend some people [emphasis mine] that our government is too PC to fight back against but I don't care (blah blah blah insert nationalistic - American! - jingoism here)..." In the run-up to this past federal election, the only people on my Facebook wall who have been posting scare-mongering stuff about how Justin Trudeau is going to run up a giant deficit or op-ed pieces from the Toronto Sun (!), about how stellar Harper's record has been are from his aunts and uncles with accompanying entreaties that we should read their posts and "think before we vote!"  These are people who get their "news" and political information from memes.

I also made the mistake of clicking on the comments from provincial PC leader Patrick Brown's Facebook message wishing Muslims a happy Eid.  It was, as you could imagine, filled with racist vitriol and the linchpin issue for scared white bread old stock everywhere, how you CAN'T SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS ANYMORE AND YOU HAVE TO SAY "HAPPY HOLIDAYS" AND WHAT A TRAVESTY THAT IS AND A HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION, etc., etc.

At a Dotytron family xmas event a couple of years ago, an aunt mad an off-hand snide remark that someone better watch what they say to me, because "otherwise she'll be posting about you [on social media] with the things she doesn't like" and just the mere memory of that makes me so. damn. mad.  I am filled with a howling, chomping, rage that rises in me and slouches towards Bethlehem to be born.

I'm sorry, am I too smart, critical, and outspoken for you?  What's the role of a good woman in your books?  That I should be making shortbread cookies and planning my wedding and taking my partner's last name and accept mail addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. Dotytron"?  HOW ABOUT YOU TAKE SOME OF MY BRILL OPINIONS and sit down and quietly be spoon fed them the way disenfranchised people are forced to quietly be spoon fed your white privilege since time immemorial?  

These are opinions that family by marriage (only - thank goodness), think it's okay to share PUBLICLY.  So I think to myself...why do I want to be around that?  What do I get out of descending into that intellectual decrepitude?  What must they think of me?  What must they think of my beautiful biracial children?  

You know what this is?  This is white privilege folks.  The kind of myopic, "convenient theories for me" narrative that means that women, women of colour, women who don't fit the box that is convenient for us to be place in by the constructs of the dominant hegemony, have to behave in a certain way, lest we be designated as too "loud" or "opinionated" or "untoward."


I chose Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me for the next Book Club I'm hosting.  We had just read (or in my case, hate-read and then dropped 1/10th of the way through), Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend and I was looking at options and I was like, you know what?  I'm tired of reading about white women!  I haven't finished this, but the review is forthcoming.

Last night we finished watching Fruitvale Station, starring the hotness that is Michael B. Jordan. I suggested the film as an accompaniment to the reading for Book Club. After the last few years where the black community has become increasingly visibly radicalized in the face of systemic and visible murder by entrenched racism and the demonization of black masculinity, the film enraged me.  Oscar's story happens all the freakin' time.  We have a confluence of entrenched racism in the United States, lack of class mobility, segregation, disempowerment, a heady gun culture, and the simultaneous fetishization and demonization of black masculinity contributing to black bodies being treated as disposable.

Then you read reports about how something was "disrupted" by Black Lives Matter advocates.  You see news reports that fix the rioting in Ferguson in a fetishisitic gaze while simultaneously moralizing and wagging a finger at our collective entrancement with the activities images of black bodies "acting out."

Why do we hold oppressed people to a higher standard?  Why do we grind people under our heels and then expect them to be "good corporate citizens" or to protest in a way that we deem acceptable and not give in to that rage?

All my life I've been told that I'm too angry, too outspoken, not basic enough for this world.  I was born with a surfeit of confidence and the privilege of an upper-middle class upbringing in a developed nation to back it up, but still, rage is

Can you imagine what it must be like to be black in America?  To be Hispanic in America?  To be First Nations in Canada?  To be Muslim around the Dotytron's extended family (lol!)?  

I just finished reading Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist.  It is a collection of Gay's essays.  This was good stuff, folks.  She talks about how we have to stop lobbying accusations of privilege, how it feels being a feminist but still liking questionable pop music (e.g. "Blurred Lines") in spite of yourself, what it means to be a "bad feminist."  I loved this collection, even if I didn't agree with all her points.  There was an essay about the N-word and I gotta say, as someone who has studied language and writing and meaning,   Surprisingly, my favorite essay is about Gay's entrĂ© into the world of competitive Scrabble playing.  She balances the line between anger, indignation, reflexivity, passion...I can't believe I'm only discovering her now, but I'm so glad I did.  It's nice to have a woman of colour be represented in mainstream feminist discourse, especially one as funny, self-aware, critical, and whip smart as Gay.

I saw Straight Outta Compton a few weeks ago with a friend.  Dotytron had gone right when it was released with his Record Club homies.  I saw it after ingesting all the information that circulated in the immediate aftermath of the movie's release about how Dre has a history of beating up women. I don't know much about rap history or about NWA, other than the hits from that era that everyone knows.  It was definitely an entertaining movie and the performances are almost all uniformly good, especially Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E and O'Shea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube.  In particular, Jackson Jr. is incredible.  It helps that in a film where the actor's likeness to the character they played could be tenuous at best (I'm looking at you, the guy who played Snoop), Jackson Jr. looks EXACTLY like his dad and the mannerisms were perfect.  The guy who plays Dre, Corey Hawkins, got daps but he relies too much on the squinty eyes (admittedly, so does Dr. Dre in real life).  All that aside, there is no denying that the movie is very entertaining.  However, there is no denying that the guys who comes off the worst in the film are a) the guy who is dead (Eazy-E) and b) the guy who is a known psychopath (Suge Knight).  Dre and Cube come off as angels, and as I linked above, we know that is certainly not the case.  It could be because Cube co-wrote the film?  Who knows.  I did like the fact that Eazy-E's widow is one of the executive producers.  The other thing is that the film trades on a LOT of misogynistic depictions of women and quite frankly, I don't have the stomach for that anymore.  The film also glosses over the fact that the fetishization of young black male inner city culture was packaged to a white audience to sell it.  In fact, I think the film does the same thing, and trades on it to sell this film to a mass white audience (the film did remarkable box office).  Once again, you have the Narcos phenomena of the simultaneous glorification of the violence, and misogyny and the vague finger-wagging happening in the sub-sub-subtext.  We glorify the exploits of this disenfranchised black masculinity as a means of selling movie tickets.

Rant over.


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