Film

TARANTINO’S LENS: “Revenge Is A Dish Best Served By White-Male Privilege/Why Didn’t The Oppressed Do It My Way”

The “clown-ification “of systemic oppression/repression presented by Tarantino creates a sense that these “foolish” people could be overthrown as easily as portrayed within Tarantino’s 120-minute(ish) films. So audience members walk-out of theaters feeling cleansed of anti-black racism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism. They have their “what if” conversations, praising Tarantino on another “cinematic masterpiece” all the while digesting the liberatory vision of a white-male bent on exploiting communities that have experienced historical oppression. Rinse. Repeat. And all is right in the world.

Only all is clearly not right in the world.

Read the rest at Pinnland Empire

Rape Culture: From Grimdark Fantasy to Reality

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Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault and Rape Survivors

When I worked as a reporter for a local paper in East Tennessee some years back, a story arose about a young woman who had been sexually assaulted at her high school. When the issue was brought to the school board’s attention, they moved heaven and earth to shame the young woman and to vilify her and her family.

No one denied the attack happened but nothing was done about it because the attacker was a star athlete and the school’s administration was beyond corrupt. When I tried to follow up and get the family’s side of events, the story was buried due to local politics and my publisher’s wish to stay in good with the Powers That Be in the county.

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An Open Letter to J.K. Rowling about the American Wizarding School in Fantastic Beasts

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by Dr. Adrienne Keene | Originally posted at Native Appropriations

Dear J.K. Rowling,

I am unabashedly a huge Harry Potter fan. I first encountered Harry when I was in Junior High, volunteering at the public library (nerd status, I know). The children’s librarian handed me book one, and I was hooked. I even used to frequent Harry Potter message boards back in the day with my friend Kathleen (we were “Parvati” and “Lavender” cause we also shared an interest in divination, ha). Anyway, all this is to say, Harry holds a sacred spot in my heart. But I’m not one of those fans who can recite things verbatim, or remember every tiny detail, so if I’m missing something, I hope one of those fans will help me out.

I’ve been interestedly following the news that there is a new Harry Potter prequel-of-sorts in the works, for Fantastic Beasts and Where…

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Sense8 and the Failure of Global Imagination

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How do you imagine a life you could never live? Though not really a theme, this problem is at the heart of Netflix’s new original series Sense8, created by the Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski, and heavily influenced by Tom Tykwer. Like many fantastical or science fictional premises, Sense8’s premise is a wish fulfillment: not — as is typical of this genre and the Wachowski’s earlier work — the wish fulfillment of the disempowered middle school nerd stuffed into a locker, but rather the Mary Sue desire of a mature, white American writer/auteur who has discovered that an entire world is “out there,” one that the maker doesn’t know how to imagine.

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Why I Teach The Walking Dead in My Native Studies Classes

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by Cutcha Risling Baldy

So a friend of mine wrote me a message on Facebook that went a little like this:

Question: how the heck do you get through to someone that thinks natives need to just get over it?

Answer: Shake them? I never advocate shaking people, but maybe something is loose in there. Tell them to take a Native American Studies Course (it ain’t cheap, but it’s worth it).

But if I’m being honest, lately, when this comes up — and isn’t it telling that it comes up often enough that I can begin with “lately” instead of “well the last time, a long time ago, man I can barely remember that time?” — I like to tell them about The Walking Dead.

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4 Documentaries Every (Person) Educator Should Watch

Many activists and educators are demanding for a public school curriculum  that produces a critical and relevant education, especially for those students who have historically been marginalized within the school system. For those of us who are disrupting the systemic failings of public schools and challenging the normalization of pushing students of color out of a high school(/higher) education, it is important to look for every available resource that might develop a more inclusive and engaging environment for learning. Whether through mentorship, teaching, or expanding your own cultural consciousness the following documentary trailers should serve useful in your effort towards unpacking privilege and understanding the strict binary systems of race, gender, and sexual orientation that exist in (settler) society, as well as within the classroom.

1. Precious Knowledge

Truly a remarkable film about the end of the Mexican American Studies programs in Arizona. This film reveals how politics shape the classroom, how history and literature are not neutral subjects, and how students can become empowered through education.

2. Under the Bridge

Under the Bridge is a powerful documentary about the struggle for the creation of Chicano Park in San Diego, CA. Throughout are history lessons in the Chican@ Movement, decolonial practice, protest, and a revelation in the need for space in order for culture to thrive. Under the Bridge presents a beautiful lesson in using art as a decolonial methodology as Chican@s reclaimed land, placing artistic cultural symbols that laid claim to the stone pillars and walls that have been erected by colonization and capitalism.

3. Two Spirits

An extremely moving and sorrowful story about the horrific murder of Frank Martinez. However, the valuable lesson in Two Spirited people provides an interesting commentary on the false gender-binary established by colonization. One of the most important films in regards to the intersectionality of race and (trans)gender.

4. Miss Representation

Miss Representation should be seen by young women and men alike. It critiques the sexism and misogyny within the American patriarchy by critically examining the media’s role in consistently disseminating sexualized images of women. Kwame Appiah’s discussion of ascription comes to mind, as these limited scripts presented in media provide young women with limited views of their own future, not to mention the limited perspective that men have of women after constantly seeing women through sexist prism.

 

(In)Appropriation: Disney’s Failed Attempt to Trademark Dia de Los Muertos

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By now most of us are aware of Disney’s failed attempt to trademark Dia de Los Muertos for their upcoming animated film, but if by some small chance you didn’t hear about this check out fronterasdesk.org for  more info.

images-7There certainly was an amount of anxiety that many of us had as we  first discovered that a corporation was trying to profit over  Mexican culture. In the most direct way of saying it: Disney’s failed attempt was done out of an ignorance of the history of colonization and how legal structures worked to disconnect indigenous, Mexicans, and Chicanas/os from culture by stealing the material (land) and immaterial (culture). I don’t desire to write a dissertation in the wee hours of the morning, so I’ll keep the philosophical lamenting brief and concise. When I refer to culture as immaterial I am not implying that culture does not produce material items, decorations and symbols come to mind. However, culture is very much an immaterial subject that occurs, first in foremost, in the hearts and minds of communities.

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Culture produces symbols and traditions

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Cultural Production: Sugar skulls

Land on the other hand is material and can produce both material (resources/goods) and immaterial (culture). While Disney’s trademark-gate is an attempt at appropriating the immaterial (culture) in order to produce material goods from cultural productions based upon likely misinterpreted representations of Mexican cultural symbols, the event also falls in line with the larger historical context of colonization robbing our people of the material.

With that said, the history of colonization has been one of stealing the material to create wealth for the settler culture. The land issues in indigenous, Mexican, and Chicana/o cultures are undeniable.  For the colonizer, it has been a way to accumulate vast amounts of wealth as they were/are able to take land, commodify the resources, and transform them into products. In order to do so, legal structures were created and enforced allowing for the privatization of land in cultures that historically believed in communal use and responsibility to land–watch the The Demarest Factor for more info on how this continues today in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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Colonizer laws provided legal barriers to blockade indigenous people from using the land that was always  part of their heritage. This created not only a physical disconnect from land and resources, but also a destabilization of cultural connection. Land has many uses, the heritage and culture associated with particular sites present another way that the appropriation of the material can also rob people of the immaterial.

What Disney neglected to understand is the similarities between creating legal barriers to cut people off from their land, as well as the heritage and cultural connection to this land, and the trademarking (legal barriers) of culture. In terms of the latter, it would have it difficult to participate in said culture. According to the LatinTimes:

“Among the trademark applications that The Walt Disney Company has filed for, are education and entertainment services, confectionery, cosmetics, transmission or reproduction of sound or images, computer programs, accessories, jewelry, paper articles, luggage, and more.”

Had this worked, Disney would have legal rights to the name, Dia de Los Muertos, and the images associated with their interpretations and representations of Mexican culture. This images would undoubtedly use traditional cultural productions that would be re-visioned in a stylized manner, but in the above quote we also see “education…services” as part of their trademark. Would this have hindered culturally relevant education that incorporated Dia de Los Muertos (the holiday, not the film)? In all likelihood it would have at the very least complicated any possibility for educators to talk about the subject and showcase the images of Mexican culture.

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Regarding the legacy of colonization, the line between stealing the material and immaterial through the colonizers legal structures are pretty clear. Both effectively disconnect people from culture in a variety of ways.  I believe the actions of Disney, whether intentional or not, was a continuation of this process.