Art, Change, Entertainment, LGBTQIA+, Media, Movies, Racism, Shannon Jeanna, Television, Transgender

Black or White? #MoviesSoWhite

In case you didn’t already know – which is crazy really because EVERYONE knows this – I’m a huge hard-core, die hard, [insert cool adjective] MJ fan. He was more than just the greatest entertainer that ever lived to me, he was an incredibly lovely human being and that’s probably what I love most about him. Anyway, a few days ago it was announced that a TV movie was going to be made, detailing an alleged road trip from New York to Ohio, involving Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando after the 9/11 attacks. As an MJ fan, I can already tell how disrespectful the mere concept is not only to Michael Jackson’s legacy, but also to that of Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando. But, let’s skip the issue that the movie in itself is based on a lie, to discuss what exactly has Black Twitter and Tumblr – and MJ fans alike – up in arms. White British actor Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare In Love) was cast to play Michael Jackson…

Ever since the announcement, a lot of people have been putting in their two cents: MJ fans argue – rightfully so – that Michael himself wouldn’t have wanted a white actor to play him, while others insist that, although he was African American, he did appear white later on in his life, making it okay for a white actor to play him.

In the midst of all this, I realized something rather important. Most people seem to forget the reason Michael’s skin was so light during the second part of his life: vitiligo. Vitiligo is an incurable skin disorder that destroys skin pigmentation by portions while putting patients at higher risk of skin cancer. Michael suffered from vitiligo universalis (universal vitiligo), meaning that depigmentation altered most of his body. This affected him tremendously and on so many levels. Having to deal with such a rare condition (touching 1% of the world’s population) was traumatic on a personal level, especially given the beauty-obsessed business he was in. This caused him to keep his condition a secret, suffering in silence for years, thus putting him in a much lonelier, more marginalized place than he was in the first place due to his ground-breaking fame. As if that wasn’t enough, mainstream media ridiculed him and made him out to be ashamed of his race, brainwashing the public into believing that he’d purposefully whitened his skin so that he might be shunned by both the black and white community. Vitiligo also affected the way he dressed: he always wore long sleeves, surgical masks and even had an umbrella-man to protect his hypersensitive skin prone to cancer. Vitiligo was therefore a huge part of Michael Jackson’s experience and identity. To erase that would be to erase part of who he was.

Michael on the set of They Don't Care About Us (how fitting!)

Michael on the set of They Don’t Care About Us (how fitting!)

So why has no one brought up the fact that if a movie was ever to be made about Michael, if anything, he should be played by a black actor who has vitiligo? Apart from Michael Jackson, there has never been a more famous person suffering from such a prominent case of vitiligo. Only very recently has the beautiful model Chantelle Winnie taken the world of fashion by storm. Despite that, people suffering from vitiligo still have very little representation in the world of movies and media at large. If I’m honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie or TV show depicting someone who has vitiligo. Making a movie about Michael Jackson is therefore the perfect opportunity to cast a black actor with vitiligo. A great opportunity not only in order to remain true to Michael’s story, but also for a black actor suffering from that skin disorder to actually get work, be put on the map and given a chance to showcase his talent. But that’s just too much asked it seems, instead all we get is yet another white guy stealing (appropriating wouldn’t be a bad word in fact) someone else’s job and therefore only managing to perpetuate the under representation – and often times misrepresentation – of a given group; in this case, black people suffering from vitiligo. Casting a white actor to play MJ strips him of the essence of what he was and represented: a talented, successful, affluent black genius who shaped the world of entertainment and broke racial barriers on one hand; and a regular black man struggling with the physical difficulties and social stigma that come with vitiligo on the other.

Proper casting is vital for so many different reasons. The first is credibility. Cis straight white non-disabled actors cannot fathom what it’s like to be part of a marginalized community. It doesn’t matter how much “research” you put into it, how much makeup and prosthetics you cake on, how many hours you spend with an accent coach, or with the real life person the story is inspired by. I don’t care if your name is Marlon Brando, or how empathetic you are, the bottom line is that you are and will always be cis, straight, white and non-disabled. Because of those inherent characteristics, and no matter how mesmerising your performance may be, you will never be able to trump that of an actor who actually possesses those characteristics by merely existing! Given the fact that you belong to a privileged group, you have no clue what it’s like to deal with transphobia, homophobia, racism, or ableism day in day out. As a member of that majority you cannot possibly grasp the nuances and subtleties of living that kind of life. Of course, one could make the case that acting is about putting yourself in the shoes of a character that is nothing like you in real life. However, in a system which oozes double standards and only allows for a “certain kind” of actor to play any existing role, while the rest only get crumbs, certain ethical rules certainly need to be set in order to restore equity.

giphy

The second reason is representation, because representation freaking matters! Newsflash: people hailing from marginalized groups actually enjoy reading books and magazines, watching movies and TV, seeing plays, and Broadway shows. Believe it or not, none of us live our lives being constant sidekicks to cis straight white non-disabled people. We are the leads in our own lives, so why not in movies also? We too deserve and long for the spotlight! Our stories matter, our opinions matter, our lives matter. I will never say this enough: Bend It Like Beckham changed my life. That kind of representation made the little brown girl in me subconsciously realize that I could take the driver’s seat. I could be the hero, I could be smart, I could be beautiful, I could be anything I wanted. I can do all that MY OWN WAY instead of constantly trying to tend towards whiteness. We live in a society that solely elevates the cis straight white non-disabled angle as the norm, the default narrative that everyone should strive towards. If you so happen to be a square peg in a round hole, you’re supposed to force yourself to fit that model until you break, instead of adapting it to who you really are. Such a mentality is toxic to us all. We all need to see different angles to broaden our horizons and better live together, and contrary to popular belief, the universe will not implode if all movies and stories do not automatically celebrate and worship cis, straight, white, non-disabled people.

tumblr_o1wrwf5emq1u55joyo1_540White privilege is profoundly embedded in society, and movies are no different. Cis straight white non-disabled actors in particular already have a wide array of roles to choose from in an industry where cis straight white non-disabled roles continue to be the rule. As if that wasn’t enough, they also get to take the scarce roles about marginalized people away from actors hailing from said groups, and who have a hard enough time as it is finding work. This is especially prevalent when it comes to roles about POC that seem to be constantly whitewashed so white actors may play them. The film industry therefore enables a bunch of white actors to play ancient Egyptians in Gods of Egypt, snow white Emma Stone gets cast to play a Hawaiian woman in Aloha, lily white Rooney Mara is even considered to play Tiger Lily in Pan, whiter-than-white-tea-drinking Benedict Cumberbatch gets to play actual Indian characters (not only Khan Noonien in Star Trek, but also Shere Khan in the upcoming Jungle Book movie), and still white Ben Affleck gets to be the Latino hero in Argo. Hollywood, French, British cinema (and should I say Western cinema at large), and let’s not forget Bollywood, has a long history of whitewashing roles that it has yet to address.

A similar phenomenon also occurs went it comes to LGBTQIA+ roles. Cis actor Jared Leto played Rayon, a trans woman in Dallas Buyers Club, which even owed him an Academy Award, when an actual trans actress could have and should have played that role. Same goes for cis Eddie Redmayne who recently played Lily, a trans woman in The Danish Girl, awarding him little to no criticism, while directly propelling him in the running for a very probable Oscar nod.

Jared Leto as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club

Jared Leto as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club

Another example is the infamous movie Stonewall that managed the prowess of whitewashing, cis-y-fying (is that even a word?) AND male-y-fying (now I’m just making up words) the actual story; thus magically turning Marsha P.Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, two black and Latino trans women – who played a central role in the Stonewall riots – into a cis white gay man played by a cis straight (?) white actor, Jeremy Irvine. More often than not, gay and lesbian roles go to straight actors. Back in the day, Brokeback Mountain was seen as such a progressive movie, finally offering some kind of representation to gay men, while starring two straight actors: Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. When it comes to portraying lesbians, things are worse. Too often do casting directors make it a point to hire straight actresses who respond to society’s ideal of beauty (white, skinny and non-disabled) in order to fit sick male fantasies. The French coming-of-age drama movie entitled Blue Is The Warmest Color (La Vie d’Adèle), about a French teenager discovering her homosexuality was portrayed by Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos both straight as can be. Actress Adèle Exarchopoulos was in fact awarded a César (French Academy Awards) for the part. A more recent example is Carol, a story about a young aspiring photographer and her relationship with an older divorced woman, which stars none else but Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (her again…). Yup, you guessed it: straight, straight, straight!

Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett starring in Carol

Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett starring in Carol

Claire Danes in the HBO movie Temple Grandin

Claire Danes in the HBO movie Temple Grandin

And the same “rule” applies to disabled roles, with an increasing amount of non-disabled actors “cripping up” for roles. Claire Danes for example, won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Temple Grandin, an autistic girl from Boston who went on to be a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, and even invented a stress-relieving device for autistic people. Did the casting directors even search for an autistic actress who could play the part? I seriously doubt that. Same goes for Eddie Redmayne (again!) in The Theory Of Everything who played Stephen Hawking, the famous theoretical physicist suffering from motor neurone disease. The movie owed Redmayne another Oscar nomination, all that at the expense of struggling disabled actors! Leonardo DiCaprio was also nominated for both a Golden Globe and Academy Award, at the tender age of nineteen, for his portrayal in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape of Arnie a young man suffering from developmental disability. The list goes on.

The result is that cis straight white non-disabled actors benefit doubly from this short-sighted, prejudiced system. Not only do they have millions of roles to pick and choose from, but those performances are often greatly applauded by the mass cis straight, white non-disabled public just as clueless about the realities of the communities whose narratives are stolen from. This makes me think of Black Swan. Majority of the public ignorant of ballet, actually believed that Natalie Portman did a lot of the dancing herself, which in fact sparked quite a controversy as to whether or not she truly deserved to win the Academy Award. The truth was that ballet dancer Sarah Lane was hired to perform the dance sequences. The reason for that being that a person who hasn’t studied ballet seriously from a very young age, cannot physically perform any of the complex steps required. No matter how hard an actor may work at it, it is just impossible because they haven’t developed certain muscles that dancers do when they are kids and still growing. Same goes for cis, straight, white, non-disabled actors! You cannot grow a sexual orientation, skin color or disability, nor can you possibly grasp those struggles.

Eddie Redmayne portrayed Stephen Hawkings (right) in The Theory Of Everything

Eddie Redmayne portrayed Stephen Hawkings (right) in The Theory Of Everything

The industry seems adamant to use the slyest methods, throwing in as much money as necessary on prosthetics, makeup, coaches, consultants, so cis straight white non-disabled people may continue snatching all the roles for themselves, instead of footing the bill for hiring actors who actually inherently, and naturally possess whatever characteristics needed for said roles.

Keen status-quo defenders are quick to argue that no, it isn’t racism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, etc. We’re just being oversensitive! Perhaps – in Charlotte Rampling’s own words – black actors just aren’t talented enough, and fighting for more diversity in film really is “anti-white racism”. Or how about Ridley Scott’s two cents? Movies wouldn’t be funded if actors from marginalized groups were cast as leads. I mean, it is public knowledge that the only good, famous actors out there happen to be cis, straight white and non-disabled! Let’s please pretend like it has nothing to do with centuries of unfair advantages awarded by white supremacist, patriarchal societies thriving on slavery, colonisation and the constant shunning of LGBTQIA+ and disabled communities! “White privilege? There is no such thing! Black lives don’t matter! All lives matter!” Such attitudes only contribute to one thing: strengthening the status quo. Viola Davis couldn’t have been more right: “the only thing that separates women of color [and marginalized groups in general] from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” Nor can you become a bankable, studio friendly actor if you aren’t given a chance to shine in the first place.

And please let us not make excuses for the actors who have the audacity of taking on said roles. The aforementioned people are big names and in no way need these roles to survive in the business. For one missed business venture, hundred other opportunities follow!  Those faces are literally in EVERY OTHER MOVIE! It is therefore their responsibility to turn down roles that they would otherwise be STEALING from struggling actors from given marginalized groups. They (just as much as casting directors) should be held accountable for their actions by the public, instead of being blindly revered for something that isn’t theirs to play with in the first place.

diversityWhile it is great that #OscarsSoWhite has been grabbing so much attention, even leading to the adoption of concrete measures, let’s not make this an annual thing. Part of the reason Oscars are so white is because movies in general – released worldwide all year round – are so overwhelmingly white, cis, straight and non-disabled. Movies (and media in general) are made by and for people belonging to that privileged group. So maybe instead of just boycotting the Oscars, we should concentrate our energy on boycotting movies that lack diversity both in front and behind the camera. Minority groups have buying power, and if President Obama’s reelection has taught us anything, it is that united we no longer are a minority. Our voices count and have an impact. Remember what happened to the Stonewall movie? It tanked because and only because we all agreed to boycott. See how everyone’s talking about responsible eating? How about we made responsible movie-watching a thing? The rule is simple if a movie doesn’t pass the new DuVernay test, meaning if “African Americans and other minorities [including the LGBTQIA+ and disabled communities] don’t have fully realised lives rather than serve as scenery in white [cis, straight, non-disabled] stories”, then don’t watch it, don’t contribute to its box office revenue. No diversity, no money.

The manner in which media is constructed only benefits cis straight non-disabled white people. So while I cannot stress enough how important it is for POC, LGBTQIA+, disabled people to keep on writing our own stories, this also proves how critical it is that we occupy positions of leadership within the industry, (in all areas, from casting to directing and also Academy/César/BAFTA/etc. memberships) or else, the stories that we keep telling, OUR stories, will continue being whitewashed and miscast to further perpetuate our under-representation and misrepresentation, contributing in our erasure of media, and in time of History itself.

Some things in life they just don’t wanna see But if Martin Luther was livin’, he wouldn’t let this be

They Don’t Care About Us – Michael Jackson

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Change, Entertainment, Fake Feminism, Media, Movies, Patriarchal Society, Racism, Rebel With A Cause, Shannon Jeanna, Television

Oscars 2015: Best and Worst Moments

Oscar season always makes me super excited and I normally make it a point to see most of the movies in the running so I can speculate as much as I can about who should win what, and rant over who should and shouldn’t have won. But this year was different. This year, the extreme lack of diversity turned me off and instead got me side eyeing the Academy like crazy. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one

Therefore, I will not rant over who should have and should not have won. I may not have seen half the movies nominated this year, but I did check out the acceptance speeches and I have to say that there were some pretty awesome moments, and some awful ones too. I often like to start with the bad news and end on a positive note, so let’s start with the worst Oscar moments.

Oscar fail #1: Sean Penn and his green card

Sean Penn presented the award for best picture to Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman. Right before mentioning his name, for some reason, Sean felt the need to preface by saying “Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?

fran

I have to say that when I heard that, it pretty much broke my heart, because I love Sean Penn. I find that he is a very gifted character actor as well as one of the rare celebs who seems to be truly passionate about quietly helping people without cameras in his face. So when I heard that racist joke come out of his mouth, it appalled me. Now I do get that both Sean and Alejandro are good friends and that it probably is some kind of lame ass inside joke, and if Alejandro is okay with that kind of “humour” then so be it; but I think that it really is the whole context that makes it inappropriate. A context in which Mexicans (and Latinos in general) are marginalized, under-represented and grossly stereotyped by media, which in turn has the most awful of repercussions on their daily struggles. So when someone jokes like that about one of the biggest stereotypes attached to Latinos, in a context where millions are watching, especially in a room filled – even more so than normal (#OscarsSoWhite) – with white people, it gives the illusion that, once again, there is nothing wrong with marginalized groups always being the butt end of white people’s jokes. For a second, it even felt like I was reliving Margaret Cho’s cheap impersonation of Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, alongside Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the Golden Globes

The moral of the story is: if you really really want to make a borderline joke, KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!!! And that goes for everyone: white people and POC alike. If you’re standing before a largely white audience (aka a privileged group) who has very little knowledge about the history, stereotypes, daily struggles, and overall difficulties marginalized groups go through, HOLD YOUR DAMN TONGUE!!! Because it is doing more bad than good! It may well be a good joke to you, but to the rest of the audience that sniggers away with you, or rather AT said marginalized group, it only encourages them to Other the rest of us and continue seeing us merely as walking-talking stereotypes that aren’t to be taken seriously. Knowing Sean Penn’s pretty progressive political beliefs, I don’t think that he meant any harm (at least I hope not), but it surely doesn’t give him a free pass. He really ought to have thought long and hard about it before blurting that stuff out like that. I mean Sean, seriously, in what world is a televised green card joke about a Mexican ever a good idea?

Oscar fail #2: Patricia Arquette’s pseudo feminist speech

A lot of “feminists” have been raving about Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech. On receiving the golden statue for best supporting actress, she read off of a white sheet of paper something that she clearly should have given way more thought to:

To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!

I will be honest, I didn’t quite know how to react when I heard those words. I certainly wasn’t jumping up and down on my seat the way Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez were, nor was I shaking my fist in anger. I was more confused than anything else. First of all because part of Arquette’s speech sounded extremely ignorant and self righteous: “(…) To my friends who all work so hard to make this world a better place. To my heroes, volunteers and experts who’ve helped me bring ecological sanitation to the developing world.” What does that even mean? You mean to say she “helped” the entire “developing world”? And what does it even have to do with winning an Oscar? That clumsy wording reminded me of what I call the white hero complex which touches a certain category of white people; the kind who get so insulted when they’re called racist, yet do not want to know what racism really entails. The kind who goes to Africa to “save” what they think are “poor, illiterate, ignorant people who can’t even save themselves”. The kind that does charity work only to pat themselves on the back and feel superior to the people they’re supposedly helping.

saving africa

That got me thinking: in her acceptance speech, was Patricia referring to all women or just white women? Since I wasn’t sure, I thought I’d give her the benefit of the doubt. But then I saw her backstage interview and this is what she had to say:

The truth is: Even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, right under the surface, there are huge issues that are applied that really do affect women. And it’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.

Say what??! Patricia, in what world do you live in? Apparently the fight for gay people and people of color is won! Someone please enlighten me on where the hell in the world that fight is even close to being over. I find it doubly shocking that she even had the audacity of saying such a thing after watching John Legend and Common’s deeply moving performance of Glory, and hearing their heartfelt acceptance speech addressing the ongoing fight for equality between races (see below).

Secondly, since when have straight white women fought for us? Please note that I’m saying straight white women because clearly, Arquette seems to feel like people of color and LGBT people are entirely separate groups standing on the sidelines, waiting for white feminists in shining armor to come and save them; and that women of color, Lesbians, Bi women, Trans women (both white and of color) do not count for anything. Because if straight white women did fight for us, well they did a pretty lousy job. I hate to be the one to have to say it, but we ARE STILL FIGHTING not only for equal pay, but also not to get gunned down in the street for being black, beaten up for being homosexual/bi/trans, forgotten for being First Nation, ridiculed for being Indian/Chinese/Latino, etc., and overall victims of racism and sexism in all its despicable aspects.

Thirdly, even if white women had in fact fought for the rights of others, are you saying that fighting for human rights is a I-scratch-your-back-and-you-scratch-mine thing? No, because standing up for equal rights means fighting for the recognition of something that is inherent to all human beings whether men, women, white, black, brown, straight, gay, trans, bi, rich or poor. So the I-supposedly-fought-for-you-so-you-should-fight-for-me thing doesn’t even make sense and only reveals Arquette’s sense of entitlement when “fighting” for a given cause. Beware, people of the so-called developing world, because based on what Patricia said, her “supplying ecological sanitation” to you comes with a price: fighting so her pay check can equal Sean Penn’s!

Feminism is inclusive. It isn’t about pitting marginalized groups against each other. It’s about uniting against our common enemy: the patriarchal society ruled by straight rich old white men. So when Arquette says that gay people and people of color should fight for white women because white women supposedly fought for them, it is not only extremely ignorant, but also counter-productive. If anything, Patricia Arquette’s speech has proven one thing: feminism and celebrities really don’t mix! I really hope that she learns from this mistake and informs herself on the matter, because that distorted notion of feminism (which is unfortunately widely popular) really isn’t helping.

Now for the good part of the night, those who actually had something important and encouraging to say. Here’s Rebels’ top 4 speeches (in no particular order of preference):

#1: John Legend and Common march on

You know how I’ve been raving about the song Glory, so I was absolutely thrilled to see it win. But what I enjoyed probably the most was John Legend and Common’s acceptance speech. Short but straight to the point. Inclusive of all people, and embodying beautifully Dr. King’s message of love, peace and hope.

#2: Laura Poitras’ ode to Edward Snowden

The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself. When the most important decisions being made, affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control. Thank you to Edward Snowden for his courage and to the many other whistleblowers and I share this with (…) other journalists who are exposing truth.

I was pleasantly surprised that Citizenfour won best documentary given just how conservative the Academy tends to be. The fact that director Laura Poitras was even allowed to give such a controversial speech is to be applauded.

#3: Alejandro González Iñárritu sets the record straight

I want to dedicate this award [to] my fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico. I pray that we can find and build a government that we deserve; and the ones that live in this country, who are part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country, I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect [as] the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant Nation.

I thought that it was very responsible of Alejandro to address this with such eloquence and sincerity, especially in front of a largely white audience. Whether he meant for it or not, I feel like Mexican viewers needed some kind of damage control after Sean Penn’s clumsy green card comment. Kudos to you Alejandro for handling it with class!

#3: Graham Moore’s inspirational tirade

I love that speech because it is so real. Graham seems to be speaking from the heart, and is so honest about something that we all struggle with at least once in our lives. We are so often told that being different is bad. That it’s something we ought to be ashamed of, that it keeps us from fitting in. But the truth is that the more we try to conform to these insane, rigid and dumb unwritten rules, the more we alienate ourselves from everything good around us. Be yourself and as weird, quirky and different as that means because that is how you will truly find where it is that you belong and truly make a difference in this world.Stay weird, stay different”. Graham, you hit the nail on the head!

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Entertainment, Media, Movies, Racism, Rebel With A Cause, Shannon Jeanna

Mainstream dystopia or when the oppressor becomes the oppressed

Remember when Twilight was all the rave and there wasn’t a thing we could do without being ambushed by commercials, billboards, posters and T-shirts displaying skinny, pallid, blood sucking, sparkling “vampires”? Stories romanticizing rape culture and portraying female protagonists that were as weak as they were uninteresting? Remember that? Yup, don’t miss it either. You can therefore imagine my relief when that vampire trend finally passed, giving way to the genre of dystopia. My enthusiasm knew no boundaries when I realized that the tables finally seemed to turn, going from dependent protagonists (more like no-tagonist) such as Bella Swan or Elena Gilbert whose whole lives revolve around sickly 200 year old vampires, to a strong Katniss Everdeen fighting for her freedom and that of others.

HG Divergent katniss-vs-bella

The trend was finally to showcase girls, young women, having agency, making their own decisions, being strong and downright badass. Nothing could go wrong, right? Right?

Wrong. While I will applaud mainstream dystopia, and by extension Hollywood, for portraying strong female characters who are smart, brave and strong, still having the ability to be human beings with their own sets of flaws, I have to say that one thing does bother me and that is the underlying hypocrisy of these stories. In order to explain my meaning, I have chosen two examples: The Hunger Games (HG) and Divergent, arguably the most successful dystopian stories both as far as book sales and box office.

hgd

Divergent and The Hunger Games

Both are very similar and sound really great on paper: a girl fighting an oppressive regime to secure both her freedom and that of others. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, in fact, those are the kind of stories that tend to catch my attention straight away. After all, who isn’t about “giving power to the people”? Those kind of stories need to be told as often as possible, not to mention that they’re generally pretty riveting interesting, inspiring and empowering. The real problem here is that the whole narrative is about rebelling, fighting for freedom, making sacrifices for the greater good, being noble and basically questioning the status quo… Yet the whole subtext is in fact about supporting that same status quo. It is sly, it is subtle and it is diabolically genius.

One simply has to take a good look at the protagonists to understand my meaning: pretty white girls leading revolutions. Indeed, both main roles went to two white very successful actresses, who by no means needed those roles to put food on the table, and who are already starring in just about EVERY single major movie: Shailene Woodley (Fault in our Stars, The Descendants, White Bird in a Blizzard) plays Tris, the heroine of Divergent, and Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, Serena, X-Men) plays Katniss, the heroine of HG. What is peculiar in mainstream dystopia is how race is completely erased, yet oppression and poverty remain. That convenient erasure of color is there for a reason: to enable most of the people oppressed to be white without it raising many if any questions. Who cares? It’s just fiction right? It is no big deal that most of the “poor oppressed people” in these stories are white when in real life it couldn’t be further away from the truth; because the only thing that really matters is to keep on perpetrating the image of white people as the heroes, all that while the rest of humanity is shown as incapable of helping themselves without the white man’s ill-advised assistance (see below Rue in the HG). This is what I take issue with: the fact that the most privileged, most represented group in all of media also gets to be a symbol of revolution, and fighting oppression. In mainstream dystopia,  the cover girls for rebellion are white. Not African, not South Asian, not East Asian, not Hispanic, not Native. WHITE. And not just any white girls; white girls that fit into society’s destructive ideal of beauty and worth; an ideal that is already and constantly being forced down our throats and minds all day every day. That my friends, is the status quo hiding itself behind the idea of revolution. How’s that for propaganda?

Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior

Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior

Another thing that proves to me that these stories support the status quo is the presence of token [insert under-represented group] characters. If you look well, tokens are everywhere, in every story, always whipped out in order for it to seem inclusive. Tokens are side characters that have little or no story line, and aren’t actually characters. Sure they might have a name, a few lines here and there, but in the end they’re nothing but plot devices. Both stories have their very own lot of tokens. However, I will only discuss the main ones: Rue in the HG and Christina in Divergent.

Just like everyone else, I was disgusted by the racist comments some HG fans made on social media about being disappointed that an African American actress was cast to play a character that they imagined to be white because she was described as cute and innocent; all that despite the fact that the author states as clear as day that Rue is black. All those comments are actually very telling of what we’ve been conditioned to think, and has been proven time and time again with the tragic deaths (or should I say ruthless killings) of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and the countless black men and women that have been killed for no reason. Media conditions our subconscious minds to believe that white equals gentleness and innocence, while black equals roughness and guilt. It is vile, it is disgusting, and a lot of people who feel that way don’t even realize that they do.

I'm not racist but

In all honesty, I hadn’t read the HG books before seeing the trailer for the first movie, and when I first saw Rue I thought: “Let me guess, she’s the token black girl. Figures!” I wasn’t surprised or impressed. If anything, I was bored with it. Yet another pointless movie with a pointless token black girl, who isn’t even Lupita N’Yongo black, because Hollywood is so racist that it wouldn’t even bother to cast an actor with beautiful ebony skin to play even a minor role (remember what I was saying last time about media’s obsession with mixed race actor’s “better half“). Just what the doctor ordered I thought! But then I realized that maybe I was being too judgmental. After all, I hadn’t seen the movie or even read the books, so I decided to do both, and unfortunately, both were unsurprising. Rue isn’t a character, she’s nothing but a plot device, a means to an end. Rue is what made Katniss the Mockingjay. She is what made Katniss remotely likeable. While Rue has very little story line and virtually no back story, SHE is what gave Katniss – that cold, grumpy, one dimensional, unlikable character- a certain amount of depth and heart. Rue was a means to making Katniss a hero. Not to mention the fact that all of it was yet another instance of the white girl saving (or in this case trying to save) the black girl. Rue, just like every other token in HIStory is nothing but a pedestal for the white protagonist. That my friends, is the status quo in all it’s glory. Bet Katniss’ rebellion sounds a lot less cool all of a sudden…

rue's death

Divergent is no different unfortunately, Christina – played by another not “too black” Zoë Kravitz – is nothing but Tris’ sidekick. She has very little lines and no back story (at least in the movie). We just know that she was formally part of the Candor faction and that’s it. In the books, she does have a relationship with Will though, which is something that isn’t even mentioned in the movie, perpetrating once again that whole idea that when black women/ women of color aren’t portrayed as Jezebels, they’re just asexual. White girls date, have romance, hot guys fighting each other for their affections, and worshiping the ground they walk on, and girls of color, well, just don’t. Christina is no different and it’s almost as if she wasn’t even in the movie. Not having read the books, I have no idea if she is to play an actual role in the second installment, but I’m not going to hold my breath for that.

Zoë Kravitz as Christina

Zoë Kravitz as Christina

Another problem is the casting in the movie adaptations. In HG, although Katniss’ ethnicity is open to discussion, the fact is that she is described in the books as having olive skin and dark hair. Despite that, it is pale skinned, blonde haired Jennifer Lawrence who got the part, and what makes it even worse is that the actual casting call was solely open to Caucasian actresses, proving once again Hollywood’s racism. Gale, Katniss’ love interest, is described as having dark hair, olive skin, and grey eyes, yet who was cast? Pale skinned, blue eyed, blonde haired Liam Hemsworth.

Liam Hemsworth

Liam Hemsworth

As for Divergent, Tobias aka Four is supposed to be biracial, his mother Evelyn being described in the book as having “(…) curly black hair and olive skin. Her features are stern, so angular they almost make her unattractive, but not quite. …At that moment I realize that he and the woman have the same nose— hooked, a little too big on her face but the right size on his. They also have the same strong jaw, distinct chin, spare upper lip, stick-out ears. Only her eyes are different— instead of blue, they are so dark they look black.According to this description, Evelyn is clearly a POC, making her son biracial by extension. Yet white Theo James (though they tried to bank on his Greek heritage to somehow prove that casting him wasn’t too much of a stretch, which it is) was given the role of Four; and pale skinned, blonde, blue eyed Naomi Watts was cast as Evelyn!

Naomi Watts and Theo James

Naomi Watts and Theo James

When I complain about whitewashing, I often come across people rolling their eyes, telling me I’m overreacting, that it is the actors who best fit the role that were cast regardless of skin color, or that the movie wouldn’t have worked if unknown actors and actresses of color had been cast. See but those are nothing but lame excuses. The truth is that if a story is good, it will be successful whether you cast a famous actress like Jennifer Lawrence or someone unheard of like Q’orianka Kilcher. Look at Life of Pi for example, it was critically acclaimed though unknown Indian actors Suraj Sharma and Irrfan Khan were cast as the protagonist. Not only that, but there are a number of actors and actresses of color that not only do have the star power to attract audiences but are also talented enough to play the part. Scandal anyone?

scandal_2012_624x351

Mainstream dystopia needs to be more diverse, and more than just that, we need to tell more stories and make more movies about the non-fictional oppression people of color have had to suffer and still suffer today. Movies starring actual actors of color instead of white actors that were simply asked to tan (like it has been the case in Ridley Scott’s Exodus movie, Rooney Mara playing Tiger Lily in the upcoming Pan movie, and the infinite amount of whitewashed movies ever made). Stories and movies about the colonization, slavery, the genocide of Native Americans, etc. are to this day extremely scarce and/or disgustingly sugar coated. Those stories need to be told truthfully because we need to hear them whether we are black, brown, white, yellow or green. It is only by hearing about all of these forgotten people past and present, and the challenges and injustices they have faced and still face today that we can all truly move forward, together in unity as one human race.

Do not get me wrong. HG and Divergent aren’t bad in themselves. In fact, I do think that they bring something great to the table in terms of empowering young girls and women. It is a wonderful advancement for the image of women in media and something that I hope will not just fade away once the trend of dystopia does finally disappear. However, when watching/reading these stories, one might want to put things back into perspective just a little. When you get blown away by Tris throwing punches here and there and Katniss taking down a plane with a single arrow before giving us a long heartfelt tirade about freedom, you might want to open your eyes wide enough to spot that same vile oppressive status quo dressed in the bedazzling cloak of rebellion. So when you see Katniss and Tris fighting injustice and oppression, ask yourself this: if there were to be real life cover girls for rebellion, what would they really look like? I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure they ain’t white.

Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

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Art, Entertainment, Media, Movies

Ring a Belle? (Review of the 2013 movie Belle)

Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers of the movie Belle. If you haven’t watched it already, go see it, then come back and read this article! 🙂

Anybody who knows me knows how most of the movies out there tend to annoy the hell out of me. Part of it, I will admit, is because I am a pretty difficult person to satisfy and I always seem to find something to nit pick. But for the most part, what annoys me to no end is how almost every single movie (and TV show) I watch has sexist and/or racist elements in it that just drive me crazy (I’m sure you know the feeling). So just as I tweeted Amma Asante (the director of Belle, who in fact favourited my tweet, yay me!), watching Belle really felt like a much needed breath of fresh air.

Amma Asante faved my tweet

Honestly, when you got yourself a political drama about slavery with just a dash of Jane Austen added to it, it’s hard to go wrong. But what I loved most about the story isn’t only the fact that it centers around a woman of color (which is something that you almost never get to see in movies) but also and mostly that both the fact that the protagonist is a woman, and a person of mixed race wasn’t portrayed in a stereotypical way. What we have with Belle is a story about people, and while certain things that they cannot control (their gender and race) affect their lives and the way society treats them, those elements do not define them.

 belle belle

Regarding women first of all, we see that they are friends, sisters, mothers, daughters, rivals at times. For instance, I really enjoyed the relationship between Dido and Elizabeth which to me, captured what a true friendship generally is. Dido and Beth are like sisters, best friends who tell each other everything and enjoy each other’s company. They look out for each other constantly. When Dido gets to know that she can’t be introduced to society due to the fact that the Mansfields consider that she could never hope to find a suitable match due to the color of her skin, Beth is almost more upset about it than Dido is. Both girls run into each other’s arms for comfort. Because that’s what they are to each other: best friends, sisters, a safe haven. There is a common misconception that women hate each other but, if you are a woman, think for a moment, who are your best friends? Who are the people you feel you can tell anything to, the people who really got your back? Chances are they’re mostly women; and this movie depicted it wonderfully.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido and Sarah Gadon as Elizabeth

Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido and Sarah Gadon as Elizabeth

Dido also showed Beth much compassion when she offered to give her a portion of her heritage in order to make the latter’s dowry more attractive to potential suitors, or when she gave her a shoulder to cry on when James Ashford turned out refusing her affections. Just like any friendship, though, there have been some rough patches. We see it when Dido confesses to Beth that James Ashford harassed her. Beth, who is completely penniless, and has been pressured into “securing her bread and butter” by finding a suitable husband, reacts very harshly to such a confession, telling Dido that he could never desire her because she is “beneath him”. She hurls out those harsh words partly due to her own racism (let’s keep it real, she’s a white girl in the 1700’s!) and partly because of her despair in seeing her one and only suitor slip through her fingers. That scene could have very easily been portrayed as a cat fight; two silly women fighting, ruining their friendship over a man. However, it came off as two friends saying things that they didn’t really mean, as it often is the case in real life.

hug

Secondly, concerning Dido’s ethnicity, the color of her skin is something that is constantly brought up during the whole movie. Almost every scene has something to do with her blackness and how much of an “Other” she is. While she is well accepted in her white family, she cannot escape that difference. Yet what I enjoyed most was that as much as her “abnormality” seems to be brought up, none of it ever defines her. She is smart, strong-willed and witty, because that is what women of color are, they have their own personality; not because they’re women, not because they are “of color”, but simply because they are humans! That side of it came out beautifully in the movie, and was a pleasant change from the one dimensional, stereotypical women Hollywood insists on feeding us with.

cool belle

However, while the story is set in 1769 England, I found that a lot of things do still ring true in today’s society. For instance, the scene in which Oliver Ashford separates Dido’s ancestry, choosing to ignore her (black) mother’s origins and focus on her “better half” which has “equipped her with loveliness and privilege”, it is something that is still quite rampant in today’s entertainment business. Just look at the amount of shows and movies that cast actors that are black but not “too black”, East Asian, but not “too East Asian”, South Asian, but not “too South Asian”, etc. Why is it that we hardly ever see any actors that look like Lupita N’Yongo, Lucy Liu or Parminder Nagra on our screens? Generally, successful “non-white” actors are those that are lighter skinned and/or have a white connection (Halle Berry, Zoe Saldana, Jessica Alba, Jesse Williams, Kristin Kreuk, Frida Pinto, Wentworth Miller, Vanessa Hudgens, etc.). That is because casting directors, producers, networks and Hollywood as a whole has taught itself to focus on the “better half” of these actors. Because these actors’ appearance is less “ethnic”, therefore making it less “shocking” to what Hollywood deems average audience members are: poor impressionable racist white people. This is obviously a huge misconception on their part. Logic dictates that audience members are diverse and come in different shapes, sizes and colors; and I also know for a fact that most white people are able to relate to characters regardless of their color. Just think about the amount of people that related to the blue aliens from Avatar! Hollywood needs to let go of its bigoted views and understand that what makes a character relateable is good writing, not the color of one’s skin. That is something that Belle has proven brilliantly.

dido n mama

Dido and her adoptive mother, Lady Mansfield, played by Emily Watson

Another thing I found really enjoyable was how being “of color” wasn’t merely shown as something that any one ought to be ashamed of or treat with derision, but rather that it was something to be proud of, something beautiful; a narrative painfully absent in movies. Speaking of people of color as beautiful is indeed something that is still somewhat unheard of in entertainment. In one scene, Dido tells Mr. Davinier that she knows nothing of her mother except for the color she’s inherited from her. “Then at least you know she was beautiful” says Mr. Davinier. You tell’em John!

Mr. Davinier was played by Sam Reid

Mr. Davinier played by Sam Reid

And for good reason! Unfortunately, white guys telling girls of color that they are beautiful, not only inside, but outside as well, is simply non-existent in most movies. Dido’s relationships with men not only breaks that trend, but is also very true to life, mirroring extremely well what women of color too often go through with white men. Mr. Davinier represents the kind of white man that we could date or marry. Then there’s James Ashford. The scene in which he sexually harasses Dido is very telling of what a lot of white men are conditioned to think about us. In that scene, you see in James Ashford’s eyes his repulsion and fear for what is different (Dido’s chocolate skin) mixed with a certain fascination and curiosity (what is different is also novel). That scene embodies the complexity of racism which in the end is a twisted mix of attraction and repulsion. In fact, racists often try to hide their racism by bragging that their best friend/wife/husband is black/asian/jewish/[insert minority]. Both Ashfords illustrate two types of white guys that I must confess I’ve often come across (though definitely not as blatantly). On one hand, there’s James Ashford, the narrow-minded white guy who has been taught and conditioned to feel attracted to only one type of beauty, the “pure English rose”; on the other hand, there’s Oliver Ashford who seems drawn to the “rare and exotic”, like some sort of sick fetishism. Though they are polar opposites when it comes to their feelings for Dido, both brothers objectify her pretty equally, treating her like a “dark body” to be consumed and/or ridiculed. Only Mr. Davinier sees Dido for who she really is, striking a perfect balance between loving her regardless of the color of her skin and recognizing the beauty of that skin.

close up dido

Belle teaches all of us a beautiful lesson of self-worth that remains much too absent in film and dare I say in life. We see how Dido gets engaged to Oliver Ashford so suddenly, despite the fact that she clearly doesn’t love him. Marrying Oliver Ashford is an opportunity of a lifetime for Dido who knows that a woman of her status could never dream of a better match and that marrying into the Ashford family would help secure her place in society, keeping her from having to replace Lady Mary Murray as house keeper. Dido keeps lying to herself, fooling herself into believing that she is in love with Oliver Ashford, because if she did refuse him, who was to say that any other respectable suitor would come her way? Isn’t that something that a lot of people ask themselves? “I don’t really love him/her, but what if I never find what I’m looking for?” That’s how we end up settling for less, rather than taking risks to pursue what it is that we really want. Mr. Davinier strikes the nail on the head when he says, “You are above reducing yourself for the sake of rank. I pray that he would marry you without a penny to your name for that is a man who would truly treasure you.” Through those words, we are taught a lesson that we may have often heard but too often forget.

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While the story is set in the late 1700’s, and addresses the harsh realities women had to deal with at that time, having to sell themselves to secure their future, relegated to nothing “but [men’s] property (…) at the caprice of a silly sir and his fortune”, I found that Lady Mary Murray, played by Downton Abbey‘s own Penelope Wilton (though a supporting character) was very interesting and empowering. As a single woman who often tells Dido and Beth about her one true love that she never married, she could have very easily been portrayed as a pathetic old maid, but on the contrary, she is smart, has strong opinions, wit, is feisty, and in my opinion a true feminist, even advising Beth to “wait for no man”.

costumes

Costumes designed by Anushia Nieradzik

Of course, there is no such thing as perfect and I do have a few issues with this movie, especially regarding its failure to address even in a sentence Dido’s formative years as a slave, as well as her relationship later on with the white servants of the house (who I doubt would have appreciated taking orders from a “mulatto”) as well as with Mabel (her black maid). Addressing these issues would have helped bring more depth to the story and emphasize the harshness and sheer loneliness of Dido’s condition. The absence of such elements did therefore leave me somewhat disappointed. 

dido sees mabel

Finally, I am one of those people who stays in the theater till the very end in order to watch the credits roll, and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised to notice the amount of women involved in making this movie. Amma Asante is a British-Ghanain director, though relatively unknown, this was her second feature film and I’m excited to see what else she has in store. Misan Sigay (a black woman) wrote the screenplay (though there has been some controversy over who wrote what between Asante and herself). Due to the fact that I am so obsessed with soundtracks, I have a pretty clear idea of just how male dominated the field of film scores is. You can therefore imagine how ecstatic I was when I realised that Rachel Portman composed the music. For those who don’t know her, she was the first female composer to ever win an Academy Award (you might know her from movies such as Marvin’s Room, Emma or The Duchess) and she certainly did an exquisite job with the score of Belle, giving it a very elegantly haunting Jane Austenish quality. The movie was also edited by two women: Pia Di Ciaula and Victoria Boydell, the costumes designed by Anushia Nieradzik, and women are present in pretty much every aspect of production rather equally to their male counterparts. An honorable mention also goes to the beautiful cinematography provided by Ben Smithard (granted, he’s not a woman, but talent isn’t specific to one gender) who just blew me away with wonderful shots, some of them reminiscent (deliberately or not) of one of the most important movies about women: The Color Purple.

color purple

Dido gazing through her window

The_Color_Purple_poster

Promotional poster of The Color Purple

The quality of this movie is a testament to just how badly the entertainment industry is in need of women and people of color involved in positions of leadership (directing, producing especially). Only then can we be grazed with such truthful stories about human beings, as opposed to the stereotypical representations of women and minorities that so often pollute our minds.

Does the law not have a duty? Does the Bench and Parliament not have a duty to uphold and create the laws that progress our morality, not retard it? If not to protect us from others, then to protect us from ourselves. Laws that allow us to diminish the humanity of anybody are not laws. They are frameworks for crime. And quite frankly, I really do not care if you as an individual are without character or conscience. But a land whose laws sanction, not control, the barbarous among its citizens, that is a country whose hope is lost.” Mr. Davinier

color purpleeee

Cinematography by Ben Smithard

Each of us have a part to play in igniting that fire, whether as audience members, by supporting movies depicting women and minorities fairly; and/or as artists working hard to access leadership positions in the world of entertainment, so that stories like Belle and The Color Purple may become the rule, not the exception.

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Art, Change, Media, Racism, Sexism

Enters in Rebel With A Cause

Ever watched a TV show or read a book and cringed at the sight of the token [insert any minority] character solely brought in to make the story seem inclusive?

Ever shook your head disapprovingly at the sight of women being objectified in music videos and films?

Ever wondered why and how today, in the 21st century, the media we consume still remains just as sexist and racist as it was fifty years ago?

Ever wondered what you could do to help change things?

So have I. Enters in Rebel With A Cause. Now I don’t have all the answers, in fact, I don’t have any straight forward answers to any of these issues. But I do believe that it all starts by asking the right questions. The rest will come as we go.

The most subversive people are those who ask questions.” 

Jostein Gaarder, Sophie’s World

Ask anyone what tokenism or rape culture is. Most people won’t have the slightest clue, some will argue about the real impact it has on society, and some others will even try to dismiss its existence. However, racism and sexism are not trivial subjects; they have plagued humanity ever since the dawn of time and unfortunately, the media seems to feed off of it instead of using its power and influence to break such disgusting mentalities.

Dickson, 90210's token black guy

Dickson, 90210’s token black guy

Paco Rabanne's advert promoting rape culture

Paco Rabanne’s advert promoting rape culture

Media no longer is a rare commodity only enjoyed by the richer few. In the industrialized world, 98% of households have at least one TV, global radio audiences reach 4.2 billion people, 1.4 billion people worldwide use a computer and 4.4 billion people in the world have mobile phones. Note that I haven’t even mentioned laptops, iPads, smartphones, etc. Once you’ve managed to digest all these numbers, think about the millions of TV and radio channels airing 24/7, the millions of weekly magazines, and movies out everyday; all so easily available to the masses, not to mention social media and the unfathomable amount of information that oozes every nano second out of it. Now that’s a hell of a lot to take in don’t you think?

In this wide maze of information, finding one’s voice and being heard gets tricky. It is easy to get lost both from an audience perspective and an artistic perspective. The overload of information has lead networks, producers, directors and artists to fight each other for audience attention. Imagine a room full of noisy people yelling over each other. Multiply it by a million, and you got yourself a pretty clear overview of what media is today; a hot freaking mess.

Only the voices of those who scream the loudest may be heard. So how does one manage to make their voice heard amidst all the noise? Shock value. Sex sells right? I would go further than that and say that it is provoking people that really does all the selling, whether it’s through sex, violence or hate. Provoking people is the fastest and easiest way to get the public’s attention. It’s easy, it’s fast, it’s cheap. Anybody can take their clothes off or act like a complete douchebag to get attention, but not very many people are able to create something meaningful, positive and long-lasting. That actually takes talent.

Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke's 2013 VMA performance made headlines due to its shock value

Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s 2013 VMA performance made headlines due to its shock value

A reality show solely meant for viewers to make fun of the protagonists

A reality show meant for viewers to make fun of its protagonists

That is why nowadays, media seems to be a system solely based on negativity; and more precisely, two destructive pillars: those of racism and sexism. Think about it, how many movies, novels or TV shows do not use the cheap ploy that is tokenism in order to seem inclusive? How many stories aren’t based on Othering people because of the color of their skin? How many music videos and movies do not objectify women and/or slut-shame them? Too little. But how much of the media that we consume every day does promote racism and rape culture? Way too much.

Hollywood

This blog is dedicated to peeling off the glitz and glam of show business, layer by layer until we can get down to the nitty-grity. Because everything that is released in the public arena whether music, movies, TV, or literature, everything contributes to shape our perception of the world, to such extent that it invariably ends up imprinting on our subconscious minds. As Michael Jackson once said, “If you hear a lie long enough, you start to believe it.” Scary right? Think about the amount of time that you spend each day in front of the TV and/or computer. We see so much racism, sexism, and violence everyday on our screens that we become numb to it, and that’s the real danger; because the moment we become indifferent to what is wrong, the moment we stop questioning things, that’s the moment we stop fighting to improve the world we live in, and therefore fail to make any real contribution to humanity.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Overall, this blog is dedicated to:

  • trying to debunk the useful and the useless in today’s pop culture,

  • spark debates on what we can do in our own little way to change things for the better

  • review movies, music, novels, artists, etc. that I happen to enjoy (hey this is my blog, I make the rules!)

It is my personal belief that true art not only is meant to be beautiful and meaningful, but that it often questions the rules and has challenged the status quo more than once. This blog is for those who believe the same and wish for it to take its rightful place in the forefront of mainstream media instead of cheap shock value designed to pass off as art.

The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.”

Anton Chekov

We’ve been taught to be -and have been for a long time- passive consumers of media instead of striving to become active agents of change. Let’s encourage each other to go from the former to the latter.

Join me in the adventure.

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