Science, Mr. White
I’m a HUGE Jeopardy fan (shut up) and I’ve loved watching Arthur Chu kick the game’s ass. He’s absolutely on the mark about all this stuff.
The movies I made, I wasn’t even trying to make them diverse. It’s just when you’re a filmmaker of any ethnicity, you’re going to write from your own experience. So all my scripts started with “Hispanic character…” then I’d be like, “Oh, gosh, now I have to find an actor to play this,” and then I’d find there were no actors in Hollywood. It was puzzling.
When I was doing “Spy Kids,” the Weinsteins asked me — not that they were being jerks at all, they were just wondering — "Why are you making the characters Hispanic? It doesn’t make any sense, isn’t this supposed to be for everybody?" “Well, it’s based on my family.”
They’d just never seen it. Hollywood is very much… no one wants to do it first, because what if they screw up? If someone else does it first and it’s successful, then that’s something we can imitate. It just makes business sense for people not to constantly be putting themselves out there.
[Weinstein] said that, and it really put me on the spot to come up with a reason. “Why not just give them American names? It’s America, it will confuse people.” I said “They are American — they’re based on my family, so they’re Hispanic, but they’re going to be speaking in English. It’s going to be for everybody.” But no one had done it before, so there was nothing to point to.
"But why?” They couldn’t understand why I was doing it that way, and I couldn’t come up with a good answer. And I realized, wow, if I wasn’t Hispanic, I would have folded, I would have changed the name. That’s why there weren’t more scripts like that. Somebody would have asked them at some point “Why are you doing it that way?”
Finally, I came up with the right answer. I said “You don’t have to be British to watch James Bond. Making him British actually makes him more universal because it makes him very specific.” And they were like, okay, that makes sense. And we did it, and “Spy Kids” was a big hit. And those who were Hispanic, it really meant a lot to them. People have come up to me for a lot of years since and said “You changed my kids’ whole life. They see little kids who are Hispanic that are spies and they saw your name as the writer and director and you changed their idea of what their future could be.” The ripple effects of that one movie were enormous.
"this is supposed to be for everybody"
"I think what we need is a colorblind society." Now folks, when you hear somebody say that you know you’re listening to a racist…
THIS WAS IN
NINETEEN FUCKING NINETY-TWO
Jane Elliot is the fucking truth
she goes “i know this maybe hard for you because white males are accustomed to telling people things not listening to people so let me break it down for you”
i have died and she has resurrected me
Being an asian fetishizer does not make you a nerd, it makes you racist.
Portrait of Elizabeth Murray
England (c. 1650)
Oil on canvas, 124 x 119 cm
I think I have seen pictures of this before, in high school maybe, but I don’t remember there being a second person before. I seem to remember this image being cropped differently too, which is very disturbing because now that I see the entire painting, the way I remember it being cropped was very clearly and deliberately intended to remove the person holding the tray of flowers.
Since we’re throwing haymakers at the kyriarchy today, I think this is something that we should really be talking about too, because it happens
ALL. THE. TIME.
Level 1: People of Color from Medieval, Renaissance, and other Early Modern European works were often literally painted over in later decades or centuries.
Level 2: It was very fashionable in a lot of 17th and 18th century paintings to have a Black servant featured in portraits of very important historical figures from European History.
Honestly? They’re practically ubiquitous. A lot of the very famous paintings you’ve seen of European and American historical figures have a Black servant in them that have been cropped out or painted over.
Those silly stock photos from your American History Professor’s Powerpoint?
Your Professor’s PowerPoint for “George Washington”:
The actual painting:
Your professor’s Powerpoint on Jean Chardin:
The actual painting:
PowerPoint on Maria Henriette Stuart (with some commentary about the Habsburg jaw):
But, because of whitewashed history curricula, teachers and professors continue to use the cropped images because they don’t want their lecture to get “derailed” by a discussion about race.
These images are also more commonly seen on stock photo sites, including ones for academic use.
I honestly can’t find anyone really writing about this, or even any analysis on how often the cropped photos are used.
The reason they are so easy to crop out is because of the the artistic conventions which reflect the power hierarchy:
Oil paintings of aristocratic families from this period make the point clearly. Artists routinely positioned black people on the edges or at the rear of their canvasses, from where they gaze wonderingly at their masters and mistresses. In order to reveal a ‘hierarchy of power relationships’, they were often placed next to dogs and other domestic animals, with whom they shared, according to the art critic and novelist David Dabydeen, ‘more or less the same status’. Their humanity effaced, they exist in these pictures as solitary mutes, aesthetic foils to their owners’ economic fortunes.
This is drastically oversimplified, but at least it addresses it directly.
If anyone knows more on any studies or statistical evidence on this tendency, feel free to add it.
As a literary and history student i saw some of these cropped versions in my study books before, and was legitimately oblivious to this,
i am glad to have this information now…
I process a LOT of textbooks during the course of my “day job” (so to speak), and I know I’ve seen a few really unfortunate cropped images.
This post is more specifically addressing educators who either willingly OR unwittingly use modified images in class materials like handouts, PowerPoints, transparencies (YES, they still use them in some places!!!!) and photocopies.
But yes, many textbooks, especially non-ART textbooks, tend to use cropped or edited images without mention that they ARE cropped or edited. That is how we end up so familiar with the faces of white historical figures in “old timey” looking paintings, but seeing a person of color in the same artistic style that is immediately recognizable to a student will strike them as odd or anachronistic.
Even historical figures of color are presented in the same way, and the same context, over and over.
For example, You’ve probably ALL seen this image of Phillis Wheatley by Scipio Moorhead:
First they’ll criticize our slang. Make us seem uneducated for using it, when the reality is they’re mad we can code switch. Then they’ll use our slang mockingly. Like they really don’t want to use it, but it’s so absurd they can’t help themselves. Then they’ll make money off our slang, t-shirts, cups, bracelets, etc. Then they’ll convince us it was never really ours. It’s been public domain forever.
Feel free to replace the word “Slang” with neighborhoods, and music too."
(TW: racism, sexual violence, rape)
tl;dr - Asian women are fetishized and sexualized to their detriment in our society. When Katy Perry puts on Asian culture to give her boring song performance an “exotic” flavor for a few minutes, she doesn’t have to deal with the the stigma of being an Asian woman for the rest of her life. She can take the metaphorical chopsticks out of her hair and resume life as a white woman immediately after the song ends. In those five minutes where she “played Asian”, however, she reified and normalized the white fetishization of Asian women and Asian culture. This fetishization harms the Asian women that are dehumanized as submissive sexualized objects, and has been proven to lead to violence against Asian-American women.
In this essay, I plan on making five key points:
1. Katy Perry’s “geisha” performance tonight was culturally appropriative.
2. There is a long history of mistreatment and ill-will towards Asian immigrants and Asian-Americans.
3. Western culture “otherizes” Asians by assigning all Asians certain characteristics.
4. Asian women in particular are fetishized. This sexualization of Asian women causes increased sexual violence against Asian-American women.
5. Racism against Asians is often swept under the rug because of the model minority myth, and that won’t change until we start to address racist acts head-on.
1. What happened tonight?
Katy Perry performed at the AMA’s tonight with a “geisha”-themed display that included a sexualized “geisha” costume (which people have pointed out also resembles a cheongsam), stunted pseudo-Asian dance/walking, cartoon Kabuki makeup on her backup dancers, lots of fans, people in “Oriental” costumes beating drums, rice paper screens, and lots of paper umbrellas. Here’s video of her performance and more pictures. Perhaps the most perplexing part about the performance was the fact that the song she performed, “Unconditional”, has no ties to Asian culture or aesthetics. Ms. Perry, however, does seem to have a fascination with Japanese culture. In a recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel, she said “I’m obsessed with Japanese people though”, and, speaking about a Japanese person (in the same interview), “I’m so obsessed, I want to skin you and wear you like Versace.”
From Lorde to Macklemore, it’s a sentiment that’s galling for its popularity: white artists need to stop using the wealth signifiers of rap music to gesture at their self-important “anti-consumerism.” What Allen misses as she washes rims in a kitchen decorated only with bottles of champagne is that it’s not anti-consumerism when it only targets one type of consumer.
Rap owns a unique history soundtracking the triumph of financial success in a country that long barred black Americans from that success. It shouldn’t be an opportunity for white artists to wax superior. Beyond poor taste, it’s the myopia of latent racism that’s more anxious about gold chains on a rapper than an Armani tie on a hedge fund analyst.
Similarly, Lily Allen’s response to sexist industry demands for thinness becomes entirely ineffectual when it lashes out against women who succeed despite those demands. Allen is not savily critiquing the world of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Miley Cyrus, she’s resentfully bemoaning not getting to enjoy the same success.
“Hard Out Here” is the opposite of Mileywave. Instead of using black women as props to further her career, Allen blames them for its stagnation. In full-sleeved dresses Allen mocks her inability to twerk amidst women of color in body suits who launch into exaggerated dance moves, licking their hands and then rubbing their crotch. Her older white male manager tries to get to her to mimic them. Meanwhile she sings, “Don’t need to shake my ass for you/‘Cause I’ve got a brain.” Cut to black women shaking their ass, so much for sisterly solidarity."