It’s interesting. I haven’t really responded to many fandom kerfluffles as of late, but I could have. I could have addressed the recent “Martha Mammy” kerfluffle (Doctor Who), I could’ve addressed the really, REALLY idiotic HP fandom misstep over at daily_deviant (miscegenation…whole mounds of stupid). But what’s going on, fandom? What’s going on when a Resident Evil game produces such hateful responses as, “Get back into the cotton fields, you filthy nigger” or this: Blackface goes HD (read subsequent comments). I really wasn’t all that pleased with the “Brains and cornbread” comment and movie still.
And of course there’s always the fall back, “oh, (American) Blacks are too sensitive. You need to get out of the (darkie) ages.”
With comments like those I simply shake my head. People may never understand why games or situations like this are incredibly insensitive. Let me give you a hint why, for those of you who aren’t getting it. A long, long time ago, in the United States, there was a little thing called slavery. Now, despite the abolition of this thing called slavery, attitudes about it did not change. In fact, such attitudes worsened, deepend, and became ingrained in American culture to such an extent that certain things became accepted. Became the norm. People were still hurting, but the hurting got swept under the rug. People claimed it was such a long time ago and “we have to let it go.”
But attitudes did not change, for either side. Things were not spoken. Things were not voiced. We are a “polite” society, and polite people did not bring up such ugly topics.
But what does it mean, little ducklings? Does pretending something doesn’t exist or ignoring something make it a non-entity? Why are Black Americans/African-Americans so angry? Do they/we have a right to be upset?
We do. To an extent, we do. Because even in the calm explanations, even within the scientific rhetoric, even with every doctorate behind us we still get “go back to Africa if you don’t like it.” And maybe such comments don’t occur often, and maybe there are only a select few who express themselves in such a way. But why do so many folks come out en masse whenever a kerfluffle occurs? Why do those who say, “oh, I’m not racist” suddenly give a comment that explains why Black folk should not despair over RE5 because a bunch of white people were killed in previous games…which makes the killing of Blacks in RE5 ok. Justifies it, even.
Why am I upset…?
I am upset, because again – people are not getting it. I have to get my 2×4 from under my bed and clock someone hard and be that “uppity nigger” folks hate so. If people just took a *little* African history, if folks just read a *little* about African and African American heroes beyond February, maybe things would be different. If interracial marriage or dating could get beyond the “kink” factor and hit mainstream as a legitimate, functioning relationship rather someone’s private sex joke…if people understood that seeing African or African American faces slaughtered over and over, even in a game, smacks of slavery – that we’re seen (again) as cattle and not worth saving (or worse, we’re saved by the Great White Hope)…if only people thought beyond their four little walls. If only people could be proud enough and open enough to accept Black folk in games, movies, comics, and books over and over again, without publishers worrying about sales…
Pop Quiz: If Harry Potter, Doctor Who, and Captain Kirk had begun as Black characters, would the HP, Dr. Who, and Star Trek fandoms exist today?
If you can answer that question honestly, you’re closer to understanding why I am not happy with the race kerfluffles in fandom. You will understand why I feel the way I feel.
Yes. Resident Evil 5 is just a game. Yes, Martha is just a companion. Yes, miscegenation was a simple misunderstanding of the terminology. But it’s more than that…it goes deeper. The truth is, no one wants to admit that they have prejudices. No one wants to admit that they’d rather fantasize with a White face (with whom they can identify). No one wants to admit that maybe things aren’t as healed as they’d like them to be, and no one wants to admit that the past can’t stay buried as long as stupid, clueless, mindless, idiotic, pointless, and absolutely mindfu!kingly inane stereotypes keep perpetuating and self-generating.
Do you think I’m making mountains out of molehills? Maybe I am. But riddle me this, Batman: When is the last time you read a book, or a comic…when is the last time you saw a movie or a tv show in fandom that had a Black character in the starring role? When was the last time you *kept* watching and reading and participating in that fandom?
Worse still – when was the last time you found such media in active circulation?
No, my ducklings; fandom has not changed. Not by much. There are faces of color, but the patrons and the inteligencia who admire such works are sorely absent. Black folk in sci fi and fantasy are kinks, little else. So wake me, will you, when we have a thriving fandom based on a Black character? Wake me, will you, when we have a Black Doctor Who and there is no nuclear fandom war. Wake me, when Marvel or DC or Image produces a consistent, ongoing, top-10 comic where the character is Black, and doesn’t hide behind a mask, covering his or her beautiful face.
Wake me when it’s over. Wake me when freedom comes.