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This place matters

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hooray for hypocrisy!

So another awards season is nearing its completion and there have been, and certainly will be, some fiery political diatribes up on that podium, stars selflessly using their sixty seconds in the spotlight getting in their digs at good old Donald Trump. And good for them. 
I guess.
This parody brought to you by MS Paint.
When I saw Meryl Streep's speech against Trump's bullying at the Golden Globes, all I could think was "Then make a movie with a god damn Black person in it, Meryl." The cast lists for her movies are whiter than a Starbucks inside a yoga pants outlet, and she's not doing shit about it. Last year, defending a lack of diversity in one of her projects, she claimed it was okay because "we're all Africans." She's one of the most talented, most visible actors in Hollywood and she could be doing a hell of a lot more than making self-important speeches. 

And that's the thing about certain Hollywood liberals. They're all about conspicuous displays of liberalism, but when it comes to Hollywood's massive diversity problem, they don't want to do shit. 
Hollywood's still whitewashing roles from Michael Jackson to all the gods of Egypt and the Meryl Streeps of the industry aren't saying a thing. Scarlett Johannson and Matt Damon have condemned Trump's racism, but Damon's currently the star of a movie set in medieval China (I'm sure there's some vitally important reason the character has to be white; there always is) and Johannson's wearing yellowface in The Ghost in the Shell and says it's okay because feminism. Practice what you preach or quit preaching, dude.
I was heartened by David Harbour's SAG awards speech when the Stranger Things cast won for Best Ensemble. He talked about standing up to bullies and speaking up on behalf the disenfranchised and marginalized. But the guy's on a show with one whole character of color. The whole of the show's first season failed the Bechdel test. Maybe focus some of that fiery passion on getting Stranger Things show runners to actually cast some of the marginalized and disenfranchised folks of whom you speak.

There are some celebrities getting it right. Oprah, Brad Pitt, Danny Glover, Lee Daniels, Nate Moore, Shonda Rhimes, and so many more have busted ass trying to make TV and movies that give a voice to marginalized people and a platform for them to stand on. They're not perfect people (Oprah unleashed Dr. Oz on an unsuspecting public for God's sake), but they're not shouting liberal catch phrases from awards podiums and then going home to do jack and shit.

So I'm calling you out, Hollywood celebrities who definitely read this blog and care what I think: practice what you preach. You want to make America kinder, more tolerant? You want to rise up against bullying and racism and discrimination? Make movies and television that promote diversity and draw in the marginalized. Don't just make speeches, make art. Make changes. Make waves. Make people think. Make a difference. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

um, guys?

When I learned this morning that there'd been violent demonstrations at UC Berkeley over a scheduled speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, I'll admit I didn't know much about the guy. And now that I've wasted a little of my life reading about him, I'm gonna waste a little of yours with a theory I can't seem to stop having. Note: There are hate words below.
Pretty much everything you need to know about M.Y. is stuff he'll tell you himself. He's a self-proclaimed Internet troll with the mantra "double down, don't back down." He once said, "If someone calls you an anti-Semite, you go to their page and put up swastikas." He's not an anti-Semite himself, of course, because one of his grandparents was Jewish, and I'll just let you go ahead and connect the dots back to Hitler on your own. "I’m totally autistic or sociopathic," he once bragged to Bloomburg. "I guess I’m both." He'll do anything to get attention - he says that in the last for years he's never been alone in a room for more than an hour. And he's a genius at maintaining his brand - the embattled provocateur. 
Still, that's no excuse for censoring the guy. Even if he does insist on calling his tour The Dangerous Faggot Tour, I guess. Sure he's got no real education and his lectures generally consist of wall-to-wall anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-trans, anti-minority hate speech, but we live in a country of free speech, goddammit. And violence is never the answer, right?
Well, it might be if you're Milo Yiannopoulos. See, his big controversial tour has turned out to be kind of a dud. There were few bookings and a bunch of cancellations. A handful of students at Rutgers stood up, smeared paint on themselves, and then left. His appearance at the University of Minnesota drummed up a whole 40 protesters, only five of whom even made it into the venue. I mean, the guy proclaims himself an "Internet Supervillian" and he gets what? Some brief interruptions, a protester or two? Some supervillian.
To finally get some attention, poor M.Y. had to enlist the help of even less relevant "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli for a planned event at UC Davis. Now the controversy machine was firing up. M.Y. said on Facebook that the event was cancelled due to violence, but the police stated that there had been no violence or even property destruction. 
And then there was the University of Washington. Out of nowhere, this huge phalanx of organized black bloc protesters show up with fireworks and baseball bats. They're all in black, their faces are covered, and they're attacking M.Y. supporters and press alike. Finally, some headlines!
And isn't it a weird coincidence that a couple weeks later another well-organized gang of black bloc protesters showed up at M.Y.'s Berkeley engagement, dressed all in black with their faces covered, with fireworks and baseball bats to force the cancellation. Police are saying that the Berkeley students were protesting but peacefully, when all of a sudden a hundred and fifty guys dressed like ninjas showed up and started throwing bricks and setting fires. The attacks were aimed mostly at the police, but groups of peaceful protesters were targeted as well. About two hours before the event, the university said it was cancelling the event, saying they couldn't guarantee M.Y.'s safety.

M.Y. appeared on Facebook Live not long after, looking fabulous, saying he was shocked at the way some people "were so threatened by the idea that a conservative speaker might be persuasive, interesting, funny and might take some people with him, they have to shut it down at all costs."
Now M.Y. had his headlines. He was trending on every platform one can trend on. Even the President, a man M.Y. creepily refers to as his "Daddy," paid attention. M.Y. is back in the headlines and back on brand. It worked out really well for Milo. Who, remember, brags about being a sociopath and a supervillian and being willing to do anything for attention.

Is it crazy to wonder if that "anything" includes maybe a little violent pot-stirring? 
And a kitten, so you don't have to look at M.Y.'s pretty,
smug face.

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