Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spock is the new black, and other observations

Sometimes, when I stand in a room of white men, I feel unfeminine and unsexual, no matter the strappy heels, the makeup, the dress. I know there are white men out there who find black women attractive, but you, John Mayer -- the guy down enough to be on"Chappelle's Show," the guy so sensitive he writes love songs -- now represent the ones who don't. Maybe you should think a little bit about that.

I doubt you have any idea what it feels like to be invisible, to come to a party looking for a little sexual validation and have white men look through you like you're wearing sweats. I doubt you know what it's like to feel the weight of cultural expectations every time you stand on a dance floor, knowing that your dance card will be empty since you won't play the freak. I doubt you know what it's like to question everything about yourself -- how you stood, how you dressed, how you smiled, trying to figure out what you did so wrong that men simply stayed away? I'm not ignorant enough to think my color is the only reason men would dismiss me, but when that happens enough times, it's hard to ignore the common factor. Do you know what it's like to be ignored in a roomful of romantic partners your age? Well, multiply that by 300 years of servitude. (La Toya Tooles, “John Mayer: A black woman responds,” Salon, 11 Feb. 2010)

the new crowd

It would take a lot to be convinced that skin color could matter to me. But if I couldn't quite shake that any particular black-skinned woman was inevitably connected to some ginormous cohort of endless suffering, I might step away too. My family is very nuclear -- I've only just recently met an aunt --and you're helping set up being black-skinned as not so much "with me you get my family" but "with me you get my race -- and every passed on ounce of suffering inflicted by people colored just like you."

If it isn't you, and it really is some weird aversion on others' behalf, you've got to be able to find a different crowd. The new Star Trek had Spock and Uhura pair up: AND it was about the two TRULY most sexy pairing up, not the black chick and the whitey -- a step way beyond (and more evolved) than "look who's coming to dinner." That's where most (especially younger) liberals are at, me thinks.

Uhuru was sex

But Patrick--Vulcans? Ewwww. (Jack Sparx, response to post, “John Mayer”)

JackSparx

Nice one, Jack : )

Vulcan is kinda the new black. Uhura is just one of Starfleet -- what distinguishes her is not her color but her strident smartness and sexiness. Kirk wasn't her man, 'cause he is just too pliable, to ultimately step-onable, to be taken seriously. But they do kinda make Spock now a last representative of a blasted Vulcan-kind, and not just the mostly singularly distinguished member of the crew. I'm not suggesting that Uhura's love for him is a sign of liberal guilt -- an "I'm in touch with those who've suffered most." It's not that, but it's a fun enough suggestion for me to have played it out a bit in my mind.

Wait, Spock was half-human half-Vulcan, right?

Half WHITE human?

Wasn't Jane Wyatt (original) Spock's Mom?

So, she was two-timing with Robert Young and a Vulcan?

So, there is a "one-drop" rule for whites too? If they mate with space aliens, we consider their offspring "white"?

It gets so complicated in outer space.

Interracial dating on earth is so much simpler than interspecies dating. We should all just mind meld together and get along. (Jack Sparx, response to post)

Thanks for clarifying Patrick

Before I even asked the question.

We apparently are mind melding.

I thought avatar blue was the new black, but I guess its vulcan. (Jack Sparx)

What reach, Avatar?

Star Trek (Uhura) black is the new white (singular, conquistorial, Kirk-like taste for "aliens"); Avatar blue is the new red-yellow (obvious); Vulcan green is the new black (carries the weight of his heritage within him [Spock]; struggle between duty-to-kind and duty-to-self).

It is getting complicated. No wonder we've moved on from elves and orcses.

I see you, Patrick

I was thinking about what Avatar Blue "represents" while reading the Charlie Chan thread, and I agree that it seems to be yellow/red. BUT, I note that the actors playing the blue are black.

It's interesting, though, in movie biz terms, that we never see the black blue actors as black on screen, but we do see the white blue (avatar) actors as both white and blue.

I guess it's like they say: once you go blue, you never go black. (Jack Sparx, response to post)


Such odd comments

I'm enough of a denizen of the internet to know that it's a place where people often feel comfortable, and even compelled, to give voice to their most negative and vitriolic kneejerk responses to what they read. So I'm not shocked to see the number of people glibly chiming in with assertions/implications that Ms.Tooles is narcissistic and/or has low self-esteem and/or is whining and self-involved and/or is silly for caring about what men might think of her and/or is silly for being affected by the words of a rattle-brained guitar-playing goofball. [. . .]

It also seems that critical reading has also begun to vanish. [. . .] And I'm sorry, but to those who toss off facile boilerplate pseduo-therapeutic comments about how she shouldn't define herself by how men see her or that you yourself are so mature and self-actualized that you find it hard to imagine how comments like this could be hurtful, I can only say this: bullsh*t. (treming930, response to post, “John Mayer”)

@treming930

Re: “The fact remains that beauty is a cultural construct, and that in our society, the epitome of beauty is defined as young, white, female, thin, etc., etc. etc.”

At least with the color bit, this is naive estimation of what our current over-all cultural construct of beautiful is. Here for the olympics in Vancouver, and noting that Coca-Cola has ads all over the place showing the beautiful exclaiming Olympics 2010 and Coke, with but one white person in the five or six bunch -- the least convincingly enthused (potent), and therefore, perhaps, most replaceable of the lot, one notes as well.

Re: “She's not talking about defining oneself by what the other (or same) sex thinks of you. She's pointing out the obvious: part of being human is to enjoy connecting one another, to enjoy being drawn to others. One way that manifests itself is through sexuality. Married or single, black or white, female or male, young or old . . . all of us like to feel affirmed that we are desirable on some level. That applies to all of us, including every last author of a letter on this thread. Anyone who says they don't feel validated by knowing they are considered attractive or who says they are immune to criticism or insults to their desirability is simply not being honest. Would you necessarily dwell on these feelings long enough or deeply enough to reflect on why you had them and then feel compelled to share them with others? Perhaps not, but that might simply be because you lack the courage to do so.”

Part of being human is connecting with one another -- okay. But so too, amongst many, as you well evidence, is the need to feel self-righteous and the desire to distance yourself (with you, your larger awareness and more considered empathy) from a much-worse-than lot. What not being properly validated offers, is righteous alarm, flight from self-conscious inquiry, and loyalty to -- connection with -- one's "heritage." None of this may be in play here. It may just be a whole lot of white men who find black women physically repellant. If that's the all of it, that would just be awful to experience, and she's just got to find herself amongst a more sane lot. But if you're most interested in our being honest with ourselves, keep the search for what is honest seeming an open, unpredictable, inquiry. You seem yourself so ready to buy in to the most convenient (for you) possibility.

Link: John Mayer: A black woman responds (Salon)

Bag-lady fears

To me it was always about my bag lady fears. It's a fear that men don't have, by the way. It comes from distant parenting or childhood abandonment. I had that. It's what happens if you don’t have a nurturing environment as a child, and you think this could happen, that you're going to end up on the street. (“The Bag Lady Papers”: How to lose money and alienate people,” Alexandra Penny in discussion with Thomas Rogers, Salon, 10 Feb. 2010)

Re: “It's what happens if you don’t have a nurturing environment as a child, and you think this could happen, that you're going to end up on the street.”

She's offering us a ton here. She's says guys don't know this fear, but it certainly is something I'm familiar with. I doubt, though, that it's just the distance that does it. The connection between finding yourself alone, on your own, and very vulnerable to absolute dissolution, requires something more than just having well known indifference and huge-gapped distance. More likely, it is that as a teen on -- that is, when you've moved beyond the stage of childhood, where you are naturally drawn to your parents and the familial surround, to wanting to explore a world all your own -- your poorly nurtured parents reject you for the sin of moving beyond them (the same fate they suffered from their own parents, when they stopped be so interested in feeding their parents' own attendance needs). (So it's not the distance, but rather the DISTANCING -- the INTENTIONAL abandonment.) So even if you understand all your gains as well-earned, as the product of hard-work -- that is, even while you try and tame down your joys by associating them with long-suffering -- you always feel that at some point being eaten away on the streets, will be in it, for you.

A big bag of warmth and love for you, Bag Lady. I'm sorry the therapy didn't quite do it for you. That must have been very discouraging.

Link: “The Bag Lady Papers”: How to lose money and alienate people (Salon)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Daring Mandela, after having mastered God

After you've played God — twice, as Freeman has done in Tom Shadyac's "Bruce Almighty" and "Evan Almighty" — and been God, there's not really much left to do, except play Nelson Mandela. [. . .] The movie's first third is stiff and dull.

And through that section, so is Freeman. [. . .] And eventually, Freeman reaches that something deeper, not by clamping down on the performance, but by loosening his grip on it. [. . .] Suddenly, instead of just seeing Nelson Mandela as a great man, we get an idea of how a guy could survive 27 years of unjust imprisonment and, instead of becoming embittered and broken, emerge with a better sense of what makes human beings tick. He has a sense of humor as well as sense of responsibility. [. . .] It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment in "Invictus" when Freeman lets go of playing qualities — dignity, affability, fortitude — and starts playing a person. (Stephanie Zacharek, “Morgan Freeman: Making Mandela sexy,” Salon, 10 Feb. 2010)

King of the World?

In your earlier review of the film, you called Freeman "aggressively noble." Since you are essentially likening him, in his daring Mandela after having mastered God, to Cameron, who also leap-frogged the world for the universe, I think you should have said the same here. Rather, here, you insinuate but take care not to heavily implicate. Be consistent: go for the kill: at heart, he's an ascending, immodest jackass, one who's managed an admirable turn by making an icon into a warmblooded human being.

In the film, Freeman was stiff at first, but loosened up "as we got to know him": sounds like the perfect gentleman. That is, it may well have been a terrific performance, but he certainly offered us what we wanted out of him -- just like Sandra Bullock did, when she essentially helped allow every tyrannical middle-American woman to understand their character faults as signs of saintliness, if they could just make sure to align them with some currently fashionable larger movement. For laudship, it is not usually enough just to offer a great performance if who we get to know in the film is likely very off from the person in real life. We may have liked Jack and Rose from Cameron's Titanic (I did), but may still regret that the film could isolate us from understanding history as means -- as a chance -- to get to know people as they really were (the gentry, for instance). So it seems Freeman provides us with the Mandela we all want to believe is true. Pure love. In truth, I would be okay with this, if we were all also well aware that the real Mandela is likely well different, that prison (for instance) may have served him as it likely did John McCain (as the SNL skit portrayed this) -- that we're just using the film version of him to project for our consideration and good company, the ideal leader. But this isn't what we're up to. Instead, this is the Mandela who MUST be, regardless: we need him to be the unassailable mountain of purity that can be counted on to keep straight and true, even while the whole universe sags around him. With him, you dig about a bit, and you just must find something even better.

I went after the person who went after Salinger because she wasn't largely opening us up to a larger discussion, opening us to be more aware, but dumping him into the pit of deposed men. If her purposes were different, I would have just agreed with her: it's just sickening when we see evidence of people being estimated largely out of our own needs of the time; as liberals, of the more conscious, we've got the make-up to demand more of ourselves. Good things happened with Mandela, and I wish the best for him, but is he really more than what our projections have set in place -- once past what we want of him, will we truly discover something better? I'm not sure, myself. By which I mean, I doubt it. But it would be still good for all of us to see him the more plainly.

- - - - -

Mandela is Sexy & Charming

I met Mr. Mandela for a fleeting 2 minutes on the streets of NYC, and I attest to his charm, sexiness and attentiveness.

If Morgan Freeman played him sexy, he did good.

—Parsifals


Would it be impolite of me to suggest you may be something of an easy lay, Miss Parsifals?

Link: Morgan Freeman: Making Mandela sexy (Salon)