I missed the Oscars last night, and so I missed the live tweeting, and so I missed The Onion’s tweet about Quvenzhané Wallis (just use google if you don’t know what i’m talking about). I’ve been flooded with questions about what they were thinking and why didn’t I stop it, and “SERIOUSLY BARATUNDE YOU ARE BLACK HOLLA AT YOUR BOYS WTF!!??”
First, I haven’t worked there since May so don’t KNOW anything about this incident from an insider perspective. I’m not a spokesperson. I’m not an advocate or defender. I’m not their official black friend. I’m just writing this as ME though I’m clearly in a position to have some perspective since I tweet hard and used to do so with/at The Onion and do/love comedy and satire and also amazing child actors.
Second, I think I understand the underlying target of the joke: The Onion largely satirizes media and the general public. Everyone fawning over a clearly lovely and innocent little girl presents an opportunity to go the opposite direction with something contrasting and clearly false. It was also a take on tabloid media extremism. (I’m remembering the headline about the media’s struggles in covering Obama’s double homicide) but it was an extremely high risk move and missed that target by WIDE margin. Limited upside. HORRIBLE downside.
It wasn’t necessary and was loaded with horrible language. In the context of what I’ve read about Seth McFarlane’s jokes, I feel especially bad for Wallis and her family who won’t “get” or care what the comedic idea was and only know that some comedy news organization called their little girl a disgusting, sexist name. It just comes across as mean. Intention does matter, and based on my time there, I’m sure the intent was not, “Hey let’s call this little girl a cunt. Ha. Ha.” However, RECEPTION and context matter as well, and this utterly failed in that regard.
I’m glad The Onion removed the tweet (which BTW for that outlet is a massive massive decision).
Also FYI, this is not some new practice of “Baratunde Tries To Explain Place He No Longer Works At,” and due to time constraints and other priorities, I’m unlikely to get into back and forth commentary beyond this post for now. I don’t like explaining jokes. I don’t like overly deconstructing art in general or The Onion in particular, but this was an extraordinary situation, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts and try to address the scores of questions people have been asking me.
Also, I believe the children are the future.
Long distance puterías.
By MAEGAN “LA MAMITA MALA” ORTIZ
I blame social media. It’s way easier to point the finger at direct messages than in is to say it was all the fault of a man. Don’t get me wrong, he, a born and bred Angeleno via Ecuador and Guatemala, is wonderful. How else to explain my moving myself and my two school-age daughters to the city of angels from the city that never sleeps? But I’ll still blame Twitter, because admitting that I, a self-proclaimed put@, meaning sexually and otherwise independent single mami, fell madly in love enough to leave the city where I was made and raised is hard.
Because y’all were kind of clamoring for this Crush when we featured Nichelle Nichols on the R…yes, this week’s Crush is the man for whom she served as matron of honor at his nuptials to his beloved of 20 years, George Takei.
Proof of this Star Trek-iest of events, you say?
(l-r: Walter Koening (best man), Nichelle Nichols (matron of honor), Brad Altman (Takei’s spouse), George Takei)
Here’s an fuller excerpt of an interview with Forbes on his latest project, his Buddhist faith, and how he rocks social media:
What prompted you to start a Facebook page in the first place?
I had been active on Twitter in early 2011 posting daily quips and humor, and while I enjoyed how fast something could speed across the Twitterverse, there wasn’t an easy way for me to interact with fans or to build discussion around posts or pictures. Facebook allowed me to review and “like” comments in one place, post my own thoughts to a group of fans discussing a particular topic, and go back later and see who else had weighed in and what others thought of it. It seemed a much more open and interactive forum, a natural fit for the kind of community I wanted to build.
What was your approach on Facebook to start engaging with your fans?
I have had a lifelong engagement with Star Trek fans as well as a more recent engagement with fans who know me from my guest announcer gig on Howard Stern on Sirius XM. So I naturally began with that, which produced a curious combination of geek/nerd humor and somewhat raunchy and irreverent banter. It was rather like The Sci-Fi Channel meets Comedy Central.
I also had a vibrant following among LGBT fans who have come to embrace my message of combatting idiocy with humor. It’s really hard to hate someone for being different when you’re too busy laughing together. So my early fans were also comprised of equality-minded activists ready to do battle against the “douchebags” and bullies of the world.
What’s your favorite aspect of being on Facebook?
I relish the free-wheeling marketplace of ideas that abounds there. People from all different walks of life are on the page, challenging me, each other, and doing it all mostly with good cheer, since this is largely a platform for daily belly laughs, with a sprinkle of thoughtful commentary on life tossed in. I also appreciate that fans can “send” me notes simply by posting on my wall, and I have a direct and immediate way to thank or acknowledge them.
What’s the worst part of being on Facebook?
It truly is addicting and quite time consuming. With so many fans now, and such terrific engagement from them, I’ve had to devote an increasing portion of my day to the page. It’s really the first thing I do in the morning now. I’ve had to enlist my husband Brad to help me sift through hundreds of fan posts a day and thousands of fan comments, as well as an intern to help post my images when I’m on set or in the studio or traveling for various speaking gigs.
Like many of my fans, I also have some difficulty navigating the dizzying pace of changes to the Facebook interface, including the new “Timeline” feature. Pictures don’t always get posted the way you expect, and there are many new rules and settings that I’ve had to adjust to. But I’ve actually developed a following among some Facebook engineers, and we have had the pleasure of troubleshooting some anomalies together. They’ve even blogged about that. I feel like I’m back on the bridge of the Enterprise, communicating with the Engine Room!
You’ve been a vocal supporter of gay rights and other human rights issues. Do you find that having a strong social media presence has helped you advocate for those causes?
My social media presence has been a game-changer in this regard. I used to rely exclusively on TV and radio, and, to a smaller extent, print, to champion my favorite causes. I was entirely dependent on whether the news media wanted to pick up a story. But now withYouTube and my blog (“That Blog Is So Takei“), I get to decide when a message or cause matters. The content not only can be shared and reshared, but those who missed the first wave can go back and see it later. With crowd-funding sites we can agglomerate supporters, show a relevant video, and compound the effect of our ask. None of this was possible even a few years ago.
You’re currently working on a musical ‘Allegiance’ – which tells the story of the Japanese American internment camps. What prompted you to tell this story, and how did it feel to revisit that part of your life?
I’ve dedicated the better part of my life to ensuring that this dark chapter of our national history is not only told but understood, so that we never forget and never repeat this grave injustice. I am a founding member and chairman emeritus of the Japanese American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles whose mission is in large measure to continue this effort.
Allegiance is a personal journey of mine for certain, and I view it as the culmination of my work not only as an activist but an actor. It is a beautiful, haunting story, with glorious music and an unparalleled cast including Tony winner Lea Salonga, the original Miss Saigon. It will take the theater world by storm when we open this fall at The Old Globe in San Diego, and then transfer in 2013 to the great American stage on Broadway.
According to Wikipedia, you’re a Buddhist. I was curious to know how your religion has influenced your life?
I find my peace and inspiration in Buddhism. It’s a philosophy, and it doesn’t require ritual. I believe in the oneness of the world. I believe in the dignity and worth of every individual. I believe we are all interconnected by the law of cause and effect. When I wed Brad, though, we wanted to have a Buddhist ceremony to make the point that California is a diverse state, not just ethnically and culturally, but religiously as well.
I think the serenity at the heart of the Buddhist philosophy has allowed me to combat injustice and inequality with a certain level of patient perspective. It’s so necessary to engage those who would seek to oppress you, and to extend to them a hand in our common humanity. That’s the philosophy I try to maintain on the Facebook page–with a few adorable and irresistible cat pictures, of course.
it gets more complicated.
Anyone else notice the number of times the murderer’s name is said verses Trayvon’s?
Notice how Trayvon Martin’s name is used as a prefix for his killer?
Notice how he’s not framed as an individual with a name, a history, an existence worth mentioning?
Notice how Trayvon then becomes another faceless statistic i.e. unarmed African-American teenager?
This is how even news seeming in Trayvon’s favor erases Trayvon Martin.
reblogging for the commentary
As you’ll recall, Nerdgasm Noire’s Roxie Moxie shared this column about the problematic reactions to the casting of Lenny Kravitz and Amandla Stenberg in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games, the opening chapter of which has gone on to post an opening weekend take of more than $155 million at the box office.
In the wake of the film’s strong opening, the disappointment–and sometimes outright anger–of more fans has been pushed further into the spotlight.
Not long after the film opened, there were enough of these kinds of reactions floating around online to populate a Tumblr (which should be read with a Trigger Warning for slurs)…
I have always recoiled from the idea that certain conversations by marginalized people can only be held behind closed doors (The old “Don’t air our dirty laundry” thing.). But now I’m wondering if some things simply cannot be discussed effectively within a mainstream context without “othering” the group in question.
It was the latest article in The Washington Post’s series on black women that got me thinking. Lonnae O’Neal Parker is a good writer. Her effort was measured and thoughtful. She is a black female writer in a space where the voices of black women are not the majority. The Washington Post has accompanied its coverage with online discussions and the actual voices of black women—something that doesn’t often happen. Now, I complain all the time about the absence of black women in mainstream media. I hate that they so often ignore us. But here The Washington Post is paying attention to black women and I find I’d rather they didn’t. Because despite all the panels and surveys and a black woman writer and the presence of black female voices, it still reads as exotification and demonization because of the context and because of who is observing the conversation.
I recall feeling the same way last year, when I took part in a CNN online article about the phenomenon of black women with natural hair enduring unwanted touching. Several black women honestly shared our lived experiences with a black writer, who had navigated similar waters. But a brief web article cannot hold the nuance and history related to African American hair and beauty standards and power dynamics. And, based on the nasty attacks several of us endured as a result of the article, in the end, it served more to inflame than educate. (More here.)
Last week I found myself working on an article about an element of black culture for a mainstream feminist publication. My criticism of the Post series and the aftermath of the CNN article began haunting me. Because here I was explaining a black issue for consumption by a mostly non-black audience and perhaps opening the door to the same “othering” that I hate.
So, I wondered: How do other folks who are members of historically marginalized groups, and who write about race and gender and sexuality, wrestle with this? Do they? Should we? Are there topics writers will not or should not discuss outside of a “safe space”? Are there story ideas writers reserve for “of color” or GLBT spaces?
It was supposed to be a triumphant moment for Brazil.
Gearing up for the 2016 Olympic Games to be held here, officials celebrated plans for a futuristic “Olympic Park,” replete with a waterside park and athlete villages, promoting it as “a new piece of the city.”
There was just one problem: the 4,000 people who already live in that part of Rio de Janeiro, in a decades-old squatter settlement that the city wants to tear down. Refusing to go quietly and taking their fight to the courts and the streets, they have been a thorn in the side of the government for months.
“The authorities think progress is demolishing our community just so they can host the Olympics for a few weeks,” said Cenira dos Santos, 44, who owns a home in the settlement, which is known as Vila Autódromo. “But we’ve shocked them by resisting.”
Favela residents are using handheld video cameras and social media to get their messages across. And they are sometimes getting a helping hand from Brazil’s vibrant and crusading news media, arguably the envy of other Latin American countries.
Not only have the news media and newly-created blogs focused attention on the evictions, but they have also dogged officials with their own pursuit of corruption allegations swirling around the Olympic and World Cup plans.
One of the great things about Tumblr is that people use it for just about every conceivable kind of expression. People being people, though, that means that Tumblr sometimes gets used for things that are just wrong. We are deeply committed to supporting and defending our users’ freedom of speech,…
now if you guys could do this for blogs that are blatatly racist, homophobic, transphobic, or are dummy accounts set up to harass individual folks, that would be great.
Gays and lesbians have served as the butt of insensitive and offensive jokes for generations. To suggest smacking a “dude” simply because of his attraction to or appreciation for a male sports star is clearly homophobic, which is the second important issue raised by Martin’s tweet. Even if the violence he encouraged wasn’t to be taken seriously, the homophobia at its root seemed to be.
I’ve known Roland Martin since 1995, and when I spoke to him Wednesday night by telephone he insisted his controversial tweets were not meant to be homophobic and expressed his willingness to meet with officials from GLAAD. Martin said he was merely singling out Beckham because he plays soccer, a sport he says he has repeatedly ridiculed on Twitter in the past.
As you might expect from any medium that limits your posts to 140 characters, Twitter is not the best place for subtlety and nuance. Most Twitter followers don’t research your history of previous posts before they respond to your remarks. Thus, I did not find Martin’s soccer explanation plausible when I first read it online, but he seemed to hold onto it sincerely when we spoke on the phone.
I have no way of knowing what Martin was really thinking when he posted his tweet about Beckham and another one about a Super Bowl fan in a pink suit, but the effect of his remarks was real to many people. Even if we take Martin at his word that he posted completely innocent tweets, it’s easy to understand how the gay community could interpret them differently and be offended by them, especially given his own past statements.
It was Martin, after all, who seemed to defend comedian Tracy Morgan last year after the NBC 30 Rock star was criticized for a homophobic comedy routine performed in Tennessee. And it was Martin who defended Miss California, Carrie Prejean, after she expressed her disapproval of same sex marriage during the 2009 Miss USA pageant.
And as far back as 2006, Martin posted a comment on his web site suggesting that homosexuality was a choice that gays could simply resist. “My wife, an ordained Baptist minister for 20 years, has counseled many men and women to walk away from the gay lifestyle,” he wrote. In the same article, he compared gays and lesbians to “a woman who is an alcoholic, the child who continues to be disobedient to his parents [or] the young lady who is hell-bent on stealing.” Martin ended his piece with a final statement of purpose: “That isn’t being homophobic. It’s being a Christian. And no one should have to apologize for that.”
Martin is entitled to his opinion, and I don’t think he should be fired from his job simply because of what he believes. But given those beliefs, why wouldn’t gays and lesbians assume Martin’s tweet about smacking a male fan of a shirtless David Beckham was meant to be an insult to gay men?