Colonization in Avatar

December 21, 2009


Tonight I agreed to go with some people to Avatar in 3D. Before going to see the movie, I was pretty unaware of what it was about. I had passed over much of the press that was surrounding the film, blissfully unaware of everything dealing with other than that it was a movie James Cameron had been working on for nearly a decade, it was primarily CGI, and it was science fiction. Now, I am loathe to pass up a scifi movie (I have sat through both Jumper–painfully terrible–and D War: Dragon Wars–so bad it is hilarious–on opening weekend), so it took little coaxing to get me to go.

Preface aside: the movie was beautiful. The CGI was stunning. The scifi environment was beyond belief (which is a good thing). The storyline was wonderful; its plot was somewhere between Ferngully and Starship Troopers. And, if this were strictly a movie review I would give it 4 ½ out of 5 stars. But this is more than that; this is a critical analysis of the social issues at play within the film. This analysis will appear after the jump, and I warn you that there are spoilers, I will try to keep them to a minimum but in discussing a movie it is difficult to forego a focus upon its plot. So, here goes: Read the rest of this entry »

What Are You Reading? Why Does it Matter?

November 30, 2009

What are you reading (for fun)?

Earlier this month, Publishers Weekly published it’s “Best Books of 2009” list. All 10 of the authors are men. All but 2 of the authors are white and are from Western nations. The magazine noticed the gendered-nature of the list but stuck by their decisions. Feminist organizations responded negatively to the list, and Women in Letters and Literary Arts (WILLA), published their own list of great literary works by women in 2009.

Reading about the inequality of the Publishers Weekly list made me want to look at the books I’m currently reading, and look to see if I have a gendered or racialized tendancies in what I chose to read for fun (academic books are excluded from this list). I have the tendency to read a ton of books at one time, so, this should work fairly well. I’m including reviews and descriptions of the books I’m reading as well, just for fun.

1. Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
Harris is a white woman from Arkansas. (1951-present)
Booklist Review:

Sookie Stackhouse is having man trouble. Her vampire boyfriend, Bill, has been distant and inattentive lately. Then he announces that he is going on a business trip, which clearly is more than it seems. After a werewolf tries to abduct Sookie at work, Bill’s boss, Eric, tells her that Bill fell under the sway of his–Bill’s, that is–ex, a sexy vamp named Lorena, and has been kidnapped. Eric wants Sookie’s help in getting Bill back, and despite her hurt over Bill’s betrayal, Sookie agrees to go to Jackson, Mississippi, to find her wayward lover. Eric has persuaded Alcide, a dashing werewolf, to get Sookie access to Josephine’s, aka Club Dead, the local hangout of Jackson’s supernatural element. In between dodging kidnappers, the advances of amorous Eric, and her growing feelings for Alcide, Sookie has to find out who kidnapped Bill and figure out a way to rescue him. With some droll touches–Elvis, now a vampire, is Sookie’s faithful guard —Club Dead is ideal for readers who like their vampire fiction light, humorous, and fast-paced.

2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Larsson was a white Swedish journalist. (1954-2004) Review:

Once you start The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, there’s no turning back. This debut thriller–the first in a trilogy from the late Stieg Larsson–is a serious page-turner rivaling the best of Charlie Huston and Michael Connelly. Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch–and there’s always a catch–is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson’s novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don’t want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.

Read the rest of this entry »

Illegal and Racist! But it Happened Anyway: Interracial Couple Denied Marriage License

October 16, 2009

Gay Rights March--Our Marriage Was OnceIn Louisiana this week, Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay were denied their right to marry by justice of the peace Keith Bardwell because they are an interracial couple (she is white and he is black). Bardwell stated that he would not marry the couple because he was afraid for the children the union may create, because he has come to the conclusion that interracial children are not accepted by either black or white culture. Bardwell said that he’s not a racist, BUT he “just [doesn’t] believe in mixing the races that way.”

Humphrey and McKay are not the first interracial couple he has refused to marry, as he told reporters that every time someone calls on him to marry them he first asks if they are a mixed race couple, if they are, he refuses to sign their license, estimating that he has refused to marry about four couples in his career. By doing this, he was breaking the law, as the Louisiana “Supreme Court ruled in 1967 that ‘the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry.'” The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has gotten involved, asking for the Louisiana Judiciary Committee to investigate Bardwell’s case, looking for “the most severe sanctions available.”

What do you think? Are you surprised to see this still happening 40 years after the Civil Rights movement?

I was surprised, though upon thinking about it, it’s not that surprising–I know that racism still exists in the United States, and I know the nation doesn’t provide marriage rights to everyone (last weekend there was a National Equality March for that very reason… 20 Best Signs Here).

Source: Yahoo! News