I read this article about this documentary by an Indian featuring several other Indians claiming that "The Simpsons" character Dr. Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is racist. And I don't want that to be right, because I consider "The Simpsons" to be one of the best and most clever shows ever made, but I'm forced to concede that it probably is. I'm in no position to say it's not racist when I'm not on the receiving end of it. I'll just say this, that in my particular case, I don't feel that watching Apu had any detrimental effect on how I perceive Indians or their culture. On the contrary, it seemed to me that Apu was one of the smarter people in a world of mostly doofuses. In the episode "Much Apu About Nothing", for example, we have this exchange from his test to gain American citizenship:
Examiner: All right, here's your last question. What was the cause of the Civil War?
Apu: Actually, there were numerous causes. Aside from the obvious schism between the abolitionists and the anti-abolitionists, there were economic factors, both domestic and inter...
Examiner: Wait, wait... just say slavery.
Apu: Slavery it is, sir.
Prior to reading this article I didn't realize that Apu was voiced by a white guy. That certainly factors in. I think that in an world, we could all poke lighthearted fun at each other's accents and cultures and religions without being hurtful, as we do to a limited extent now. For example, in "Prisencolinensinainciusol", Italian Adriano Celentano sang a bunch of gibberish words that sound like English in a fake American accent. It wasn't controversial, I presume, because a. both groups are predominantly white European in makeup and b. Americans have never been oppressed by Italians, so no one would worry that this imitation was symptomatic of any deep-rooted prejudice. Imitating an Indian accent can have different connotations of the skin color difference and because Indians were oppressed by British for a long time. (It looks weird to not write "the British", but I'm not talking about all British people. How come I don't have to write "the Indians" but I have to write "the British"? That's stupid.)
It's not going to happen, but if humans ever got to the point of eradicating true prejudice altogether and all such teasing became acceptable, that would be great. We could eliminate all teasing instead, but where's the fun in that? I tease my friends, I tease my favorite franchises, I tease my own religion and its culture and usually find it hilarious when others do so as well. But we're not at that point with the human race, so yes, it does sadly appear to me that Apu is more or less racist, though like I said my opinion doesn't really matter.
I read this other article about how Hollywood drastically underrepresents and marginalizes women and non-white people. I won't call them "minorities" because that's increasingly an inaccurate term. Pretty soon white people will be the minority in the US, and since I'm not a Nazi I don't have a problem with that. Naturally, the asinine comments on the article by white and/or male people trying to rationalize why this isn't a problem were depressing to read. As much as I hate sounding like an SJW, defending this status quo is privilege at its finest. But, you know, it's ridiculous for these hoity-toity scientists to suggest that sexualizing women in the media causes women to have self-esteem problems, because men get sexualized too. Like all those muscular superhero guys. That's definitely the same thing, and since everyone knows men and women are exactly the same it's inconceivable that they could be affected differently. I wish I were making this idiocy up.
Star Wars, in particular, has made great strides in this area, leading some children to gripe that even Han Solo will be a woman in his upcoming solo film. I hope that in a future day there will be no need for conscious attempts to put more diversity in movies, because it will just be happening automatically. But Disney, the Imperial ranks are exactly the wrong place for more female representation. Part of their shtick is that with very few exceptions they don't like women or aliens. Maybe the First Order is different.
I would like to point out that I made both the protagonists in my manuscript female over seven years ago. I did this because I discovered that women, aliens, robots, and fantasy creatures were the only characters I could write with any feeling of investment and authenticity. And I never intended this as a huge feminist statement or anything, though the working title "Space Girls" may suggest otherwise. I knew there was a need for it after someone heard about them and expressed incredulity that they weren't lesbians. At one point I gender-swapped some of the characters to have more female representation, and I suppose that was a feminist statement. But most of the Earthling characters are, at least in my mind, white, and that's because I grew up surrounded by mostly white people and I'm still surrounded by mostly white people, so it was a subconscious thing and when the movie version is underway I'll make sure casting is open to people of all races.
Speaking of my manuscript, here's the latest feedback from a test reader:
Send a message like this to someone and make their day. They probably won't know what you're talking about, but I'm sure it will make their day.
Moving on to even more cheery and uplifting things. I'm grateful to know that this attitude exists, and that some of my "friends" share it, because I wasn't afraid enough of women already and this really helps with that. (I'm being sarcastic.)
In fairness, her remarks have been taken out of context. She goes on to explain "that is a price I am absolutely willing to pay". The fact that she herself isn't paying jack should hardly detract from the sincerity of these words. And of course, "[i]t's a microscopic risk in comparison to the issue at hand", which should be a source of great comfort to all the men who have lost their jobs and reputations and been incarcerated on rape convictions. It's not that you don't matter, guys, it's just that you don't matter. Because microscopic. But if you're lucky you live in a state that, after your innocence is discovered, will reimburse you less than minimum wage for the years of your life that they stole. And it really bothers me that Emily Lindin looks like Felicity Jones in this picture. I don't want the respect I hold for Felicity Jones to be tainted by mental association with this other person.
Moving on again, don't be this guy. I haven't gotten so many likes on a comment in a while.
Sarah Brightman - Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
Here's Sarah Brightman again already to ring in the Christmas season. This version of this song is the sort of thing that, given the choice, I would listen to on my deathbed while happily drifting out of consciousness surrounded by my loving and beautiful dogs. Beautiful song + beautiful voice = aural perfection.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.