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Old 06-27-2009, 11:07 PM   #519
The Guard
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Default Re: The Twins: Racist?

It's late, so bear with me if any of this is...vague.

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RE5 refers to Resident Evil 5.
Ah. What was the deal with Resident Evil 5?

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Your background is criminology. Mine is political science, and in my background I understand that statistics can be made to justify about anything.
Yep. You can use statistics to prove anything that's even remotely true.

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Perhaps a higher percentage of blacks, in relations to their numbers in the general population, have been involved in the criminal justice system. But the majority of people in jail are white. Just like a majority of people on welfare are white. But the higher percentages of blacks and brown folks, plus the media coverage and mass media add-ons paints a picture that's not totally true. Just like many movies about Africa focus only on the bad stuff on the continent and not the good. That doesn't mean that bad things don't happen in Africa or black America, but I think there is sometimes an overemphasis on the bad, as opposed to the good. I would like more balance.
I agree with you, to a point. We're talking about the reality of blacks in crime, prison, etc. All I'm saying is...there are a lot of them out there. Not that all blacks are criminals, prone to criminal behavior, etc. It's a moot point for me, but to many people, it is a point they have heard, and are aware of. And simply put: The things seen on television are often real in a sense. Does the media spin things? Absolutely. Does the media just make stuff up on shows like COPS, crime reports, etc? Well, not these days. Not usually. There's enough real media fodder out there.

When you say there's an overemphasis on the bad, are you really saying that society emphasizes the bad things about blacks and never deals with the good things? Maybe I'm naive, but I just don't buy that. I don't know how we measure that, but I just don't buy it.

What picture does media coverage paint, exactly? That all blacks are criminals? That blacks are more prone to criminal behavior than other races? I have never, for instance, seen the media come out and say "Blacks are responsible for this or that" or "all blacks are this or that". Maybe at some point, but not recently. The media often paints a picture that involves racial tension, certain areas of issue, etc, because many of these issues are true, especially in terms of local use, etc. And if people interpret these things irrationally and come away with "All criminals are black" or "all blacks are dangerous criminals", then frankly, in my mind, that's on them, not the media.

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You say there are a lot of black superheroes, etc. There are, but how many have movies? TV shows?
Well, there's BLANKMAN, METEOR MAN, STEEL, HANCOCK...

I'm kidding.

Spawn had (two?) TV series and a movie.

Blade had three movies and a TV show, and featured on various Spider-Man animated series as well.

M.A.N.T.I.S. had a TV show on SCI FI. He was black AND disabled.

The Green Lantern on JLAnimated was John Stewart.

Black Panther was heavily featured in The Avengers second cartoon movie, and any cartoon version, I believe, has a version of him.

James Rhodes was in the Iron Man animated series and IRON MAN. He will be in IRON MAN 2 as War Machine.

And there's Storm, in three high profile X-Men movies and multiple animated versions.

And there's...CATWOMAN, which was terrible and unfaithful to the mythology, but which got made notheless.

There are also black villains. Sam Jackson's Mr. Glass in UNBREAKABLE, Michael Clarke Duncan's Kingpin in DAREDEVIL to name a few. Did a lot of those characters get started as "sidekicks", or because there simply needed to be "black heroes". Sure, but if you're looking for black heroes, period, I fail to see how that would be an issue in context.

I'm not going to play the "how many are there in comparison to whites" game, because I know there are more white heroes. But there are black heroes out there.

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How many headline books, etc., in comparision to white heroes?
I have no idea, but I'm certain there are black heroes in both classic and modern literature.
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There is a great forum in the Misc. Comics thread that goes in great length about that subject. Over the last 20 years or so you've had Blankman, Meteor Man, Steel, Blade, Hancock, and Catwoman.
Now, Blankman, Hancock, aren't even from comics, so that only leaves three characters taken from comics (perhaps actually two since Catwoman wasn't based on Selina Kyle's character). Compare that to all the white heroes taken from comics.
Yes, but for the majority of the last 20 years, there hadn't been all that many comic book films, period, until relatively recently, circa 2000 or so. So this "The Black characters haven't gotten their due thing"...it's true, but it's also true for a lot of white heroes.
Beyond that, LUKE CAGE: HERO FOR HIRE has had a script in development for years, and Marvel has plans for BLACK PANTHER. The reason you haven't seen a bunch of black heroes so far is that quite frankly, no one wanted to make superhero films period, let alone these films, that feature relatively obscure characters and therefore weren't exactly guaranteed moneymakers, for a long time. And there are better known characters that studios want to use before using relatively obscure ones.

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Also with TV. How many blacks headline TV shows? Daytime or prime time? Network or cable? of any genre? Please provide examples. And tell me how many are comedies, drama, or something else.
I have no idea. I don't watch much TV, but I'm relatively sure there's a crime show here and there with a black lead, there's that new hospital show with Jada Pinkett Smith, and I think Angela Basset was on ER for a while. I'm certain there are more, like I said, don't watch much TV.

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There are a lot of black people in various roles, due to a significant degree because someone 'whined' about opening up access and black people, and others, fought to get access. But I still contend that we have a long way to go in terms of roles of significance in many TV shows, movies. Most of these black characters are ill defined and amount to background scenery or window dressing.
There may be a long way to go, but the point is, there are roles of significance out there. Many white characters are ill defined and amount to background scenery or window dressing. Helpmates of the white main characters.[/quote]
And some of them aren't.
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So, in a way there are a lot more blacks in roles, but at the same time there is still a disparity in roles for blacks. How many films/TV shows feature black people as the heroes, as the central characters, who have inner lives? Who save the day? Who have a journey in which they change? That actually get laid? Now, how many can be killed/written off without messing up the show at all? How many are integral to the show's they are on? How many would get at least a special episode if they had to bite the bullet?
No idea. Don't watch that much TV. How many white characters can you say this about as well?

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True there are a lot of archetypes/stereotypes seeded in our subconscious but how many of them have been used to justify the oppression or exclusion of groups of people in our society?
Quite a few of them, actually. Women, other races, several religions and gays can attest to that.

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I disagree about your perception of gangsta rap. I think it is similar to minstrely and coon songs because it exploits a warped view of black people/culture, and sells it as mass entertainment.
Gangster rap presents a warped view of ALL black people? How?

When I watch a rapper, I don't think to myself "All black people must share these beliefs", and I suspect, neither do most people.
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Where gangsta rap might be cloaked in money and jewels, and the boasting might appear confident, what are the values this music promotes? Similar to the coon songs, you could replace coon with thug or the n-word, and its similar to how some rappers boast about how proud they are to be one or the other. Also the sex and leisure of the coon song reinforces the idea of shiftless, pleasure-seeking coons, and a lot of gangsta rap songs are about money, weed/or some type of drug, a sexual conquests.
Which are, instead of being forced on them, being used on their terms, making this quite a bit different from mintrelsy in my mind. Minstrel stuff took power from blacks, and made them into subservient, bumbling, incapable characters. Gangster rap is the exact opposite. Probably a step too far, but nontheless, they're not the same thing, they don't have the same aims, and I think the similarities are relatively few. You mention the "N word", but the context of it has changed. Blacks have taken that word, and made it a symbol of power and in some ways, respect. Again, the exact opposite of the use of "coon" in minstrelsy. The elements you describe seeing in the songs, ideas about sexuality, shiftlessness, pleasure-seeking, money, and drugs, are masculine and human elements, not just black ones.
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I've never said there weren't negative images of whites. But in the context of this conversation, which is about whether the Twins are racist or racially offensive, I've tried to discuss many of the various stereotypes that have been used to depict black people in the past and like I said before, still today. Also, whites, unlike blacks, have never had to contend with living in a hostile society, culture that devalued and dehumanized them with similar images. They've had far more flexibility to pick and choose among images.
Whites may not have lived in a "hostile society" (what society isn't?) in the same manner as blacks. But to imply that whites have never dealt with racism is simply not true. There are all kinds of ways and all kinds of images for society to dehumanize and devalue people. White people experience a number of them. I don't know that there's any way to accurately compare them across the board. Can you elaborate on what you mean by the flexibility of picking and choosing images?
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Once again, I'm looking at RoTF in a broader context. For you, it's just one movie. For me, potentially, its just one more movie where they do the same negative imaging again. And if there isn't prominent movies or roles on par to counterbalance the negative ones then it may impact how people (the people who watch the stuff anyway) see the world. I would argue that most people, including African Americans, views of Africa are shaped by National Geographic-type shows safaris for example. Just like I think the preponderance of street/ghetto depictions of blacks has shaped many people's ideas of what black people are like. And even innocent, harmless movies like RotF might perpetuate the madness instead of alleviating or not even going there.
I'm sorry...I just don't buy that videos have shaped an entire society's view of ALL black people.
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MTV and the Top 40 aren't the same. The few times I check out MTV they usually have a TV show on, and not videos.
MTVX then, or whatever they're calling it these days. It's got to be on there somewhere, because kids like it, and kids only like what's marketed to them.
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Even VH-1 has restricted their videos to the morning and on the weekends. Only BET shows videos somewhat regularly, it seems, on 106 and Park. I don't know if Rap City is still on, but that's beside the point. I don't think there are any black people on The Hills and its usually no more than two at a time on any Real World. Hip hop, and particularly the gangsta rap variety are very popular among the youth of all races, but I think its too easy to say it is youth culture or the best representative of youth culture. Hannah Montana represents youth culture as well, so do the Jonas Brothers, not sure about Raven Symone, and a lot of stuff in between. The Top 40 is filled with rap, but it's also filled with rock (The Fray for example), pop, and even some country (Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift (?)).
Never implied that it was the only thing popular in youth culture. Simply that it's becoming very popular.
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I'm not expecting Michael Bay to deal with the entire black experience. No one could possibly grasp the entire black experience. I never called on him to do so. It would be awesome if he was aware of some aspect of it, at the very least the African American part. What I would like to do though is to go to a popcorn movie and not feel its exploiting racial stereotypes. I would like to go and just turn off my brain and enjoy a mindless spectacle, and not be insulted. I've enjoyed some of Bay's work in the past (Bad Boys I, Armageddon, and the Island-yes, even the Island), so I don't hate Michael Bay, though I really was disappointed in Pearl Harbor and Bad Boys 2. I also understand that character development is not his strong point. I just hope that in RotF he didn't resort to stereotyping for cheap laughs instead of making humorous characters that perhaps offend because of what they do, not what groups they might mock.
I get where you're coming from...if you're insulted, you're insulted. I guess I don't understand how you can not see that...how do I put this delicately?

That Michael Bay can barely portray white people without being insulting. What makes you think he has the sensitivity to portray any other race without a bevy of stereotypes?
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Also, I don't appreciate you calling me/my ideas silly or absurd because you don't agree with me. Believe it or not, I've had life experiences too that have informed my thoughts.
Are you talking about this?

But from what I have read about the film, I can say this. In general when you single out a certain group and ascribe negative traits to that group or the representatives of that group (without a counterbalance), you make that group less than (i.e. we don't read).

That's just silly.


Because whether you appreciate me saying so or or not, I think that's a ridiculous mindset. To think that because two characters (who frankly, could be any race) don't read, the director is ascribing these traits to the entire race. I find it irrational and again, counterproductive way of thinking.

I understand that you don't appreciate the inclusion of these elements in film across the board. But to actually believe that this is intended to be the way the director or writer or whoever sees all blacks? From a pair of alien robots?

What type of life experiences could make you think something like that is a rational way to approach life? I mean, it's one thing if you've encountered ignorant people who have seen stereotypes on a movie and then take those views into the real world, but to blame a director for that kind of thing? I'm just not seeing the rationale behind that.

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Last edited by The Guard; 06-27-2009 at 11:11 PM.
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