Whitewashing vs. Racebending: Yes, There is a Difference

Samuel L. Jackson starring as a racebent Nick Fury

Samuel L. Jackson starring as a racebent Nick Fury

You can count on it.

Whenever a major media outlet posts an article about the problem of whitewashing in mainstream entertainment, there is a certain response that’s guaranteed to appear in the comments thread.

Well it’s no different than casting a person of colour in a role meant for a white person, so if they had a black James Bond, it’d be equally racist and offensive.

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Whitewashing is Still a Problem in Mainstream Media (even if it’s not happening this time)

Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek: Into Darkness, playing the role of an important non-white character from the Star Trek universe

Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek: Into Darkness, playing the role of an important non-white character from the Star Trek universe

I’ve always had a fondness for stories about female warriors.

Among my favourites is Hua Mulan, the legendary subject of an Ancient Chinese epic poem about a young woman takes her aged father’s place in the military by disguising herself as a boy.

In the 1998 Disney cartoon, Mulan, she is shown exhibit bravery, ingenuity, and honour, and succeeds in helping save China from invaders.

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Replaying Xena: Season 5 – The Prophecy of the Twilight

Xena receives some unexpected news

Xena receives some unexpected news

In the second last season of Xena Warrior Princess, we have come to the climax of the overall arc of the story.

Up to this point, Xena has gone from being a former bloodthirsty warrior, newly repentant and wracked with self-loathing, to a devoted friend and fighter for good and justice, to a self-assured paladin following the righteous spiritual path known as the Way of the Warrior.

Meanwhile, Xena’s best friend and sidekick, Gabrielle, has gone from a plucky, idealistic peasant girl, to an unwitting Amazon princess and novice fighter, to an adherent of the nonviolent spiritual path known as the Way of Love, to an eventual apostate of that path in favour of becoming a warrior – no longer a sidekick – in her own right.

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The world is a terrible place.  We have to use the power of story for the ultimate good.

Candlelight vigil

The world is a terrible place.

It’s hardly worth referencing a specific incident to support this statement.  Just turn on your TV.  Turn on the radio.  Log on to any social media platform.  Open your front door.  You could spit and it would land on something awful taking place.  The reasons why are too numerous to count.

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TV & Me (pt. 3) – Shows I Want to Watch Someday

Cat watching TV 3

I need to watch more TV.

This is a statement one doesn’t often hear, particularly as the days are now getting warmer (at least they were last week; damn you, fickle Vancouver weather!) and longer.

It’s also a statement not often heard from me.  Always, I have prioritized writing over TV, to the point that I only allow myself to watch shows on weekends and holidays.  Even at that, I’ve decreased my TV consumption of late the deeper I get into the revision of my WIP.

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Replaying Xena: Season 4 – Death in its Many Different Forms

Xena and Gabrielle are following different spiritual paths

Xena and Gabrielle are following opposite spiritual paths

Season 4 of Xena Warrior Princess was one marked by both growth and death.

Part of that growth was external.  By season 4, the show had gained widespread popularity and started tell stories that demonstrated this.  The sets were more complex, the costumes more elaborate.

The Xenaverse itself expanded: moving beyond just Ancient Greece and the gods and heroes of Greek mythology, Xena and Gabrielle travel to an entirely different country and have encounters with the gods of a different culture.

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Motivation Doesn’t Matter: On Instrumental Valuation, Diversity, and Barbie’s New Curves

Mattel's new "Fashionista" line of Barbies

Mattel’s new “Fashionista” line of Barbies

People are often surprised to learn that I have fond memories of playing with Barbie dolls as a child.

This disbelief could be interpreted in a number of different ways, each a bit more biting and backhanded than the last (you don’t seem feminine enough to have been interested in dolls; to look at you, I’d never guess you played with a doll that was so connected with fashion).

Most likely, though, it’s a puzzling discrepancy that draws folks up short: I care a great deal about diversity and representation in popular culture, yet in that regard, Barbie has often earned a failing grade.

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