Thoughts Round-up 9/26/22 Representation, Lunar New Year 2022 Tea, Music videos, FE: Engage, Xenoblade, The Naked Director

This article is part of my weekly write up series where I give my thoughts on at least four things, usually a combo of tea, television, video games, and music. The beginning section usually has more general scattered thoughts. Feel free to skip past it to read thoughts on the specific items listed above.

Previous issue: 9/14/22

yeah

As The Woman King and the new Little Mermaid discourse kick off, I will admit something:

I struggle sometimes on the subject of representation in media and politics.

It’s a tough balancing act between “this has no real world value” and “this is propaganda that can be used for both bad and good” for me.

I want to start by saying I think entertainment media is very important and can often act as a catalyst for certain types of politics. Take Birth of a Nation (1915) for example, an extremely racist movie depicting black men as sexual predators who prey on white woman. It served as a recruiting tool for the KKK, bolstering its membership greatly, and even received backing from President Wilson to boot.

So in that context, if you look at it simply, media that represents black people positively to counteract depictions such as the one above should generally be a good thing. That’s what it should be. But in this modern era of media representation, we have to ask a lot of questions along the way that I often find myself asking:

Is it representation alone if it’s simply black actors on the screen?

Who wrote the story?

Who funded it?

And if the writers are black, the folks who funded it are black, what are their politics? Because colonization is a hell of a drug, and certainly self-hating black people exist.

In fact, not only do those type of black people exist, they are often rewarded for self-hatred. Take Jason Whitlock for example, there is nothing self-loving about him at all, but he continues to stick around sports media, receiving bizarre interviews on Fox News, making bolds claims such as “NFL players protest to bolster their social media brands,” it really makes you wonder ever so slightly what the racial demographics of his viewership are.

But even then, self-hating representation isn’t even my main gripe with its modern invocation. It’s the process of it all. The reward so many people give to those who half-ass the optics of it.

In media, we see it now with the think pieces about the Little Mermaid making little black kids happy to “see themselves” on the screen. We see much praise for The Woman King — a movie about Africa conceived by two white women — and it all just makes me wonder what is the value of uncritically praising media simply because it contains a marginalized group not preying on white women or doing something negative.

I don’t boycott or rally against The Woman King or similar media, I rally against the idea that we must fill this void in our lives through representation. And I rally against this goofy quote by Viola Davis where she argues that not supporting The Woman King is “supporting the narrative that Black women cannot lead the box office globally” By the way, ask Viola what she thinks about another movie she starred in, The Help.

But to continue: The void that makes us seek representation as social justice in the first place was the very existence of the colonization and white supremacy in media we had previously consumed all along, including media created by Disney. So it feels actually a bit infuriating that something as unradical as “here’s a mermaid who’s black and not robbing a store or some shit” or “here’s a bunch of women fighting in Africa written by white women” can get free marketing and universal praise before even being released in the first place. This is opportunism created by racism itself!

And you see this type of opportunism in our real life politics, as a black president bombed countries in Africa and the middle east to hell and bolstered police forces at home just in case oppression of black and brown people in other countries wasn’t enough. You see it with Kamala Harris, you see it with Eric Adams, Lori Lightfoot, to name a few who all received praise for “representation” and using their marginalized identities as guise for something sinister.

And really, that doesn’t even cover ALL of my gripes with representation. At a certain point, it feels like identity representation in media and politics replaced a need for representation in power. And that’s why companies like Disney with racist pasts can be comfortable with these representation gestures. If you’re satisfied with seeing yourself on the screen, they can remain atop unopposed and gatekeep whoever or whatever the fuck they want with a damn-near monopoly on media.

So that’s a brief but not brief rundown on how I feel about all that. Let’s get into the other stuff.

Tea — Harney & Sons Lunar New Year 2022 Tea

Not bad. Don’t steep too long or it’ll taste burnt. Contains lychee, lemon flavors and ginger. I tend to just love ginger teas in general, not gonna lie. Ginger always has a soothing effect on me. Solid tea that has a bit of a natural sweet flavor.

TV — The Naked director

looks clothed to me but ok

I started this show around last year and then I didn’t have power for a good while so I ended up not going back to it. I kinda wanna go back and finish it, it was pretty funny. It’s a Japanese show based off one of the pioneers of the Japanese porn industry. The first episode has him coming home and finding his wife cheating on him, which prompts him to go joker mode and restart his life as a salesman of adult content.

One thing that trips me out about this show is the end credits music, which appears to be a remix of Kanye’s Black Skinhead.

Video Games — Fire Emblem Engage, Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition

whos getting engaged

The new Fire Emblem looks fine to me. Not much has been shown yet, but from a presentation point of view, I like the critical hit animations and the graphics seem like an upgrade over Three Houses. Whether I end up caring extensively about the game depends on if it goes the direction it went in Fire Emblem Fates or builds on the what it built on in Three Houses. Hopefully the latter.

This game makes me feel kinda stupid, because I’ve beaten 3 major bosses so far, and I still have no idea what the hell is going on or if I’m good at it yet. The battle system is so unlike any other RPG I’ve played before. I guess we’ll see down the line.

Music — Music videos

Thought I’d switch it up a bit, here’s some random music videos I like:

Young Dolph — Royalty

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LEgymKtDNo

I love this song and video, I can’t find the quote anymore, but I swear I remember Dolph bragging about how he handpicked the most “beautiful dark skin women” for the video. Goat.

hanging out with monkey pal

Vic Mensa — Down On My Luck

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jUGAVUwhRU

I’ve always like this video for its concept. Backed by a house beat produced partially by Mensa himself, Mensa enters a club and proceeds to have the unluckiest day ever, getting punched, dragged into a boring conversation, drugged and robbed, puked on, arrested by cops, etc. Throughout the video, he repeats his day and knowing what’s coming next, prevents as many bad paths as he can each time. Fun song and creative music video.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy any of my writing and wanna donate to my tea fund, my cashapp is $calebhnic. Feel free to comment or tweet any feedback to me on twitter at @CountCaleb

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