Good Morning! Quelle Surprise! Pop Culture is still Misogynist, Racist, and Homophobic!
I found some interesting reads over the weekend so I hope you’ll enjoy them! They are all sort’ve stories that actually reflect a lot of the things that fascinate and entertain me. I love strategy games and have been playing them on line for quite some time Actually, it’s been since the early 1990s when most of the games were simply text oriented. I also love animation art, and books, and of course, music. So, here’s a little bit on that and a little bit of stuff that has to do with social justice too. If I do a have a consistent train of thought here it is that so much of what should be entertaining and could be informative can sow bad seeds. I’ve a few examples where the pop and geek culture are taking on hard topics. Some are successful and examining crucial human stories. Some rely on the same old misogyny, racism, and homobigotry.
Japanese Manga is a way many creative people in Japan explore how they feel about a variety of things. This article is about a new manga book on the lives of the Fukashima plant workers.
A manga that describes the reality of daily life at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant through the eyes of a worker is enjoying popularity.
“Ichiefu” (1F), written by Kazuto Tatsuta, 49, first appeared in autumn 2013 as a serial comic in the weekly magazine “Morning,” published by Kodansha Ltd. Ichiefu stands for the Fukushima No. 1 plant among locals.
The comic was published in book form on April 23. The publisher shipped a total of 150,000 copies of the first volume, which is an unusually large number for a little-known manga artist.
Tatsuta said he changed jobs repeatedly after graduating from university. At the same time, he also worked as a comic strip artist.
It was when he was considering another job change that the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami occurred, triggering the nuclear accident at the Fukushima plant.
While seeking a better-paying job, Tatsuta also wondered what part he could do as a citizen of Japan to help. As a result, he began to work at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant from June 2012 for a total of six months.
“Ichiefu” describes the situation at the plant in great detail. The descriptions of equipment, such as the masks and protective gear the workers used, and the procedures they took to measure radiation levels make readers feel as if they are there and reading actual worker manuals.
The comic also depicts intimate practices only workers there would know. For example, the workers always say “Be safe” to each other before starting their shifts.
Each of the workers was also required to stop working when his dosimeter issued a fourth warning sound.
I quit playing a few games last year that I had really grown fond of because of the rampant misogyny and homophobia of many of the white male players. I had repeatedly asked them to constrain their language, behavior, and what they posted. I am fortunately playing a game right now where that’s not the case. I am still one of the few female players in my alliance. I believe I am one of two but I have found that I generally enjoy better game play if I am in an alliance where there are many openly gay men. This NPR article summarizes a series of articles that are focused on white male privilege in the online game atmosphere.
In video games, sexism often comes in the form of male-dominated storylines and character archetypes. In the video game community, it takes a more menacing shape.
It ranges from attempts to silence female critics to the harassment of fellow players. Some harassment even goes so far as phone calls and rape threats, as one female game developer found out last year.
“The issue is often framed as a women’s issue, but sexual harassment, sexism and misogyny in gaming is not a women’s issue — it’s a gaming community issue,” says Jonathan McIntosh, a producer for the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Web series.
Last week, McIntosh wrote a piece for gaming website Polygon about what he calls the “invisible benefits” that males experience while playing video games. In the post, he lists 25 effects of “male gamer privilege.” Here’s a sample:
- I can choose to remain completely oblivious, or indifferent to the harassment that many women face in gaming spaces.
- I am never told that video games or the surrounding culture is not intended for me because I am male.
- I can publicly post my username, gamertag or contact information online without having to fear being stalked or sexually harassed because of my gender.
- I will never be asked to “prove my gaming cred” simply because of my gender.
- I will almost always have the option to play a character of my gender, as most protagonists or heroes will be male by default.
- If I am trash-talked or verbally berated while playing online, it will not be because I am male nor will my gender be invoked as an insult.
- My gaming ability, attitude, feelings or capability will never be called into question based on unrelated natural biological functions.
So far, the reaction to his post — both in the more than 700 comments on the piece and elsewhere — has been relatively civil. As McIntosh pointed out on Twitter, he doubts it would have been as civil if he had been a female writer raising the same points.
“I’m saying the same thing that women have been saying for years,” McIntosh says. “There’s nothing in my piece that’s really new, it’s just that it’s coming from me. If my name was Joanna McIntosh … I’d be called irrational, I’d be called hysterical and I’d be called too sensitive.”
One other thing that I did not mention last week but I would like to mention this week is the rape scene between the Lannister twins in Game of Thrones. The same scene in the book actually was rough but consensual.
There’s been a lot of discussion, Internet rage, and general overall hoopla following Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones, as the television show made the most shocking book-to-screen deviation to date. *Spoiler free for future books.*
Jaime and Cersei finally had their reunited love scene, and suddenly for book readers, Jeyne Westerling seemed like a small cinematic sacrifice to make in comparison. I don’t want to get into a philosophical discussion on whether or not this scene constitutes as rape. Smarter people than I have alreadydonethat.
What we have to work with in the scene is what the characters said and did because we can’t know how they felt. And whether or not the scene was intended to come across as consensual sex, the way the scene was cut by the director makes it definitive to the audience that it was not consensual. Cersei repeatedly said no while Jaime forced himself on top of her and answered that he didn’t care as his creepy voiceover carried out onto a shot of Arya staring at mountains. If that’s all we know about the scene, then yes, in the television show Jaime raped Cersei.
In some ways, it’s useful for television shows to acknowledge the extent of sexual violence in our culture. These narratives allow necessary stories to be told. But the execution is too easy. From daytime soap operas to prestige cable shows, rape is all too often used to place the degradation of the female body and a woman’s vulnerability at the center of the narrative. Rape is used to create drama and ratchet up ratings. And it’s rare to see the brutality and complexity of a rape accurately conveyed on-screen. Instead, we are treated to an endless parade of women being forced into submission as the delicate and wilting flowers television writers and producers seem to want them to be.
I am still wondering why there seems to be a renaissance in misogny, racism and homobigotry. You would think that the sports arena would have made better strides against racism given that teams and fans are fully integrated to the idea that there are players of many races. However, it seems the real money and power behind the bread and circuses are still those rich, horrid, white men. We talked about the Clippers’ owner last week. There is, of course, more on that.
Deadspin has acquired an extended, 15-minute version of the conversation between Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his then-girlfriend V. Stiviano. If the original nine-minute tape acquired by TMZ left any questions about Sterling’s opinions regarding minorities, the audio here should remove all doubt that he’s a doddering racist with views not too far removed from the plantation.
The Clippers themselves showed some class this week in a protest that was priceless. There will undoubtedly be more coming and hopefully the NBA can find a way to strip Sterling of the franchise.
The Clippers gathered at center court before a118-97 Game 4 loss in their first-round series against the Golden State Warriors and took off their Clippers warm-up shirts and left them there. They then warmed up wearing inside-out red shooting shirts that did not display the Clippers name or logo. During the game, players wore black arm or wrist bands and black socks.
In other news, water is still wet and Sarah Palin is still one of the dumbest people on the planet. This is the money quote she gave the NRA: ‘Waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists’.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) defended the controversial enhanced interrogation technique of waterboarding this weekend, and implied that the practice would still be commonplace “if I were in charge.”
“They obviously have information on plots to carry out Jihad,” she said at the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting on Saturday evening, referring to prisoners. “Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”
The remark stands in stark contrast to the opinion of her former running mate, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
The former Republican presidential nominee, who spent more than five years in a prison camp during the Vietnam War, has repeatedly denounced the practice, which he says is torture.
In her speech, Palin praised the NRA, a group whose members “are needed now more than ever, because every day we are seeing more and more efforts to strip away our Second Amendment rights,” she said.
I am still waiting for some examples of how any government in the US is stripping away the second amendment rights. I do, however, have thousands of examples of how women are losing their right to self determination.
My last offering this morning is yet another in depth article on the demise of the middle class in the USA. Middle class Americans are an endangered species.
Wages for millions of American workers, particularly those without college degrees, have flat-lined. Census figures show the median household income in 2012 was no higher than it was 25 years ago. Men’s median wages were lower than in the early 1970s.
Meanwhile, many of the expenses associated with a middle-class life have increased beyond inflation. This includes college tuition, whose skyrocketing cost has laid siege to a bedrock principle of the American Dream: that your children will do better than you did.
A recent poll conducted by the Washington Post and the Miller Center at the University of Virginia found that 40 percent of those calling themselves middle class felt less financially secure than they were just a few years ago. Forty-five percent said they worry “a lot” about having enough money stashed away for retirement, and 57 percent said they worry about meeting their bills. Less than half said they expect their kids to do any better.
Fewer Americans find themselves in the heart of the middle class with every passing year.
In the mid-1970s, the majority of Americans were in the middle, with 52 percent earning the equivalent (in today’s dollars) of $35,000 to $100,000. Today, according to census figures, the share of households earning under $35,000 is virtually unchanged, 35 percent. The shift has occurred in the other two categories. Households with incomes over $100,000 have doubled, to 22 percent, while less than 44 percent are in the middle cluster.
So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?
First we had the Arab Spring then the European Summer. The American Autumn manifested itself in the Occupy Wall St. Movement.
Welcome the Russian Winter.
Saturday nearly 35,000 young, mostly university-educated protesters, the new Russian middle class, gathered in Moscow in peaceful demonstration. Reportedly, a police presence on the order of 50,000 greeted them. But still they came and marched to voice opposition to Russia’s recent election results. Vladimir Putin’s party won the parliamentary election after multiple reports of election fraud and ballot box stuffing. For instance, in Chechnya [hardly a place of Putin-love] the party pulled 94% of the vote. Putin has announced his plans to run in Russia’s March presidential elections to the dismay of many citizens, who charge that fraud and corruption run rampant throughout the country’s political system.
Demonstrators, donning white ribbons, marched in various cities around the country to say: Enough is enough.
Dismissed by the official Russian press, the white ribbon demonstrators were ignored by state television, which focused on small, flag-waving pro-Putin groups. How did the word get out? Social media—Facebook and twitter.
In an attempt to disrupt the protests, Russian authorities circulated rumors that young men present at the rallies could be stopped by police and conscripted into the army. Health officials reportedly warned citizens to stay home for fear of contracting a virulent flu or Sars. Twitter feeds were jammed and robo-calls flooded phone lines with messages of state propaganda.
Sound vaguely familiar?
How much press is OWS getting today with its West coast port demonstrations? How many words have been spent denigrating protesters as un-American losers, slackers, even dangerous criminals? Let’s not forget the MSM’s reluctance to cover OWS, the strange lack of network film footage during police actions, particularly as the encampments were dismantled. Twitter feeds jammed, cameras turned off.
Still, the world is watching. The world is pushing back. Everywhere.
Lots of liberal groups are calling for Elizabeth Warren to run for the Senate in Massachusetts against Senator Scott Brown. But why not challenge Obama instead? Warren has nothing to lose–Obama already hates her guts and has publicly humiliated her multiple times. What more can he do to her? Running against Obama would give Warren a chance to turn the tables and represent the American people against the top enforcer of the oligarchy.
Today Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism presented a thoughtful, well-argued case for why it would be much better for Warren and for liberals who are disgusted with Obama if she ran for President rather than Senator. It’s a fairly lengthy post and very meaty, so you should read the whole thing.
Yves argues that even though Warren wouldn’t win, she could help elevate the national discourse. If she were running against Obama and debating him, the media would have to cover it, and some of her ideas might make it through the media filter.
And just imagine the debates! Warren would wipe the floor with Obama, exposing his lack of moral values and his pitiful ignorance of basic economics. Obama would be horrified to once again have to compete with a brilliant, competent woman. He might even be forced to sneakily use his middle finger again or pull out his tired sexist remarks. This time more people might notice, now that the koolaid has worn off for so many former Obots.
One quibble I have with Yves is her argument that Warren is “a Reagan-level Great Communicator.” Please. Reagan couldn’t speak off-the-cuff much better than Obama. Did you ever watch one of his press conferences? But Yves is young, and probably grew up under Reagan. I guess I can forgive her for that one. She points out that
unlike Obama, a patrician wannabe who sees Reagan as a role model, she taps into deeply rooted traditional American values, that of a just society. Obama, by contrast, exploited the intense frustration with eight years of misrule by Bush the Second, and his liberal posturing was merely a market positioning exercise, to further differentiate him from Brand Republican.
Her position, which sounds dogmatic leftie to those lacking historical perspective, would have been dead center circa the early to mid 1980s, a Javits/Rockefeller Republican or a pretty tame Democrat of that era.
Hmmm…not quite sure I buy that either, but whatever. She’s right that Warren is no lefty. She’s simply an honest person who has studied what is happening to the American middle class and has the decency to prefer trying to change things to trying to cash in on the greed of bankers.
But here’s the best reason for Warren to run:
Warren also stands for a second set of ideas, that of competence and accountability in government. Not only did she build a major organization in an impressively short period of time, but she understands the importance of what we call in the consulting world “deliverables”, that is, providing tangible evidence of progress. She got various government agencies and banks to agree on a simplified mortgage disclosure form, a “to do” on the banking officialdom’s list that had somehow been too complicated to get done until Warren took it on. And this isn’t just good for consumers, it will also lower costs to banks.
By contrast, not only did Obama make a spectacular set of campaign promises that he failed to honor, he is completely unapologetic about those lies. While there is, sadly, a certain amount of misrepresentation that is considered normal among politicians, Obama’s looks to have set a new standard.
Yes, Warren is competent and efficient–she gets things done. She identifies a problem, and she attacks it doggedly–and she’s tough as nails. She has taken more abuse in the past few years and most people face in a lifetime. And she’s come through unbroken and unbowed.
Yves points out that in comparison to what she might accomplish with a failed primary campaign for President, Warren’s chances of effecting real change in the Senate would be slim to none. As we’ve seen recently, the Senate is utterly dysfunctional and filled with people who are completely out of touch with what is really happening in the country. If Warren tried to actually accomplish something as a freshman Senator, she’d be slapped down in no time flat.
I must say I like this idea. Just to get you thinking about it, here are a couple of videos of Warren making Timmy Geither look like a guilty schoolboy.