May 30th, 2007

not the magical minority fairy

Wiscon 31: Romance of the Revolution

Description: In authors ranging from Heinlein to Macleod, Spinrad to Cordwainer Smith, the revolution is glorified — sometimes a violent one, sometimes (but far more rarely) a peaceful one. How do we avoid making the same errors of glorifying violence and hero worship when coming at things from a revolutionary perspective in fiction? (Some people may not find these to be errors — they're welcome to come discuss that POV too.)

Panelists: Paul Kincaid (mod), L. Timmel Duchamp, Laurie J. Marks, Chris Nakashima-Brown, Lyn Paleo

Just so people know what they're getting into, this is the panel that made my head explode, thanks to unthinking racism and Europe/America-centrism. I not-so-sarcastically note that I was completely unsurprised to see the two going hand-in-hand. So please note that this write up is going to be incredibly biased, that I am still angry about it, and that I didn't take down any notes or pay very close attention because my hands were shaking (as stated, I was angry) and because my head had just exploded.

Non-literally, for the anime and manga fans out there ;).

So I will have to rely on coffeeandink to provide more detailed quotes, as she was actually writing things down.

I originally went to this panel because I wanted to talk about the aftermath of the revolution, particularly in fiction, as I adore Lloyd Alexander's Westmark and Ursula K. Le Guin's Voices for dealing with that aftermath.

However, the panel ended up being on historical revolutions.

Mely later noted that the two of us were the youngest people in the room by far: one of the beginning annoyances was how quickly the panelists and the audience were to assert that the spirit of the sixties had died out and that the current generation was apathetic, capitalistic, and generally unconcerned with anyone but themselves. While I think the statement could be correct in some cases, I was irritated by how it was presented as fact without any attempts at nuance (both the generalization about my generation and the unthinking nostalgia and idealization of the sixties). It was also frustrating and anger-inducing because hi! I'm still waiting (and agitating) for my revolution!

The other thing that really, really, really pissed me off was that everyone (panelists and audience) only discssed European and American revolutions. Not only that, but they specifically only discussed white revolutions -- the Civil Rights Movement came up once, maybe twice.

Four out of five panelists were white, and I think Chris Nakashima-Brown may have been mixed race, due to his surname. Paul Kincaid was British; I think the rest may have been American, though I honestly don't recall.

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ETA: Nakashima-Brown's explanation of what he meant and L. Timmel Duchamp's write up and follow-up

ETA2: transcript (partial; I think it starts somewhere in the middle of the panel)
not the magical minority fairy

Wiscon 31: What These People Need Is a Honky

Description: Tom Cruise is the Last Samurai. Kevin Costner wins the heart of American Indians with his wolf dancing. Orlando Bloom, in Kingdom of Heaven, goes from medieval England to Jerusalem to teach the Arabs how to sink wells and transport water. Is there anything that can be done about this plague of Orientalist white-guy Mary Sue-ism?

Panelists: Doselle Young, coniraya, me, Janine Ellen Young (mod)

Props to vito_excalibur for the Best Panel Title Ever!

Doselle Young ran in, saw me and coniraya sitting there, gulping down our caffeinated beverages of choice in an attempt to be coherent for the panel, and said, "I'm the moderator?!"

"Yup," we said, still half asleep.

"But I don't want to be the moderator! Being moderator is boring! I think we should rule by anarchy!"

And we probably would have until Janine Ellen Young (Doselle's wife) came in and got stuck as the moderator. There was much joking around about what the panel needed was a honky, as Janine was the only white person on the panel. I think coniraya (black) joked that he was probably going to get killed off in the first half.

I don't have very good notes on what was said at the panel, since I was mostly trying to concentrate on sounding somewhat intelligent.

I gave a list of movies that may or may not fit the panel description, as largely culled from LJ (LJ knows all!). My caveat is that I got these off the flist and haven't seen most of them. I'm also adding in the titles that came up during the panel itself.

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I summarized the trope as being (please picture scarequotes around all occurences of "natives"): White guy flees from his own culture for personal reasons (to set him up as different from those with white privilege). White guy meets natives. Natives educate white guy. White guy learns the way of natives, possibly also converting a native person who was originally doubtful of him, thereby proving white guy's worthiness. White guy fights for naties. White guy makes dramatic escape while the native guy dies, possibly trying to help the white guy. The movie then ends with a dramatic coda and captions that inform the audience that despite white guy's triumph, the Situation Remains Dire.

The key to all this is that the entire movie is about the white guy's personal growth and realization and that people of color serve only to further the white guy's epiphanies.

"And don't forget, the white guy always gets the sexy native girl! Or a white girl who has been raised native," said one of the panelists.

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All in all, this was the panel I had the most fun at, and I think it went pretty well with the audience too. I do wish we were able to talk about more things in detail, but I think we hit a good number of topics. Also, the audience was great.

ETA: I forgot! Here's the link I told people about at the panel: "How to write about Africa."

ETA2: Attributed note of white teacher subgenre to seaya

ETA3: Fixed info on Brian Dennehy and added link.
teru teru

(no subject)

Hi people who just added me to your reading lists!

Thank you for reading! And if I met you at Wiscon, hi again!

As you've probably noticed, my LJ is currently being dominated by posts on Wiscon. I have two more panels I want to write up, and then it will probably be back to business as usual, which means lots of posts on whatever TV I happen to be watching at the moment (right now, Homicide: Life on the Streets and Romeo x Juliet on the anime side), whatever manga I happen to read, and whatever books I happen to read. Usually I watch and read things with an eye on how feminist and anti-racist they are. I occasionally interrupt with posts on knitting and/or rats.

I have insanely organized tags and LJ memories if you want to browse.

Also, as always, if you find yourself getting bored by the cracktastic manga posts or don't feel like reading anymore, feel free to defriend; I won't take any offense.

- Oyce