Friday, January 6, 2012

Please Welcome Our New Contributor April Scissors

April Scissors is a writer and cultural critic. She works to explore and uncover the historical and present implications of faulty representations of people of color, women, and other marginalized groups in politics, popular culture, and media. Find more of her work at aprilscissors.com and on Vocalo.org 89.5fm in Chicago where she is a frequent guest and contributor.    

Hey Womanist-Musings’ readers and supporters! My name is April and I fancy myself as a cultural critic and an all around pop media enthusiast. For me, “popular culture” and “pop media” are nice little buzzwords that encompass the generalities of politics, television, movies, etc. that bind us as a national unit. I take all of those commercials, political commentary, moments on TV shows, and scenes in movies that you quote, love, laugh at, and cry about and point out all of the lovely ways they protect, uphold, enhance, and perpetuate racist, classist, sexist, homophobic, heteronormative, white supremacist, and thoughtless stereotypes and ideology. Despite all the big, fancy words in that last sentence, I often struggle with much of the language used in academia to describe what’s going on in the world outside of the institution. That language definitely has a place, but as I desire to reach the larger public, I’m constantly in search of ways to take what I’ve learned in graduate school and from theorists and apply it to the realities of everyday life. 

Some may argue that “Oh, it’s just television!” Or, “it’s just a movie! It’s not meant to be taken seriously!” And in one regard those statements are true; popular media and culture do largely serve the purpose to entertain, and thus should, on some occasions, be taken with a grain of salt. However, as someone who has often witnessed and been a victim of people not being able to draw the line between reality and entertainment, I believe that we must explore, investigate, critique, analyze, and problematize that which we are supposed to accept blindly. As a fairly young nation with some deeply rooted biases, I am humbled by how far we’ve come in our understanding of ourselves and the individuals or groups surrounding us. However, I also recognize that we have so far to go. Every time Donald Trump gained attention for demanding President Obama’s birth certificate, or when Megyn Kelly justified excessive use of pepper spray because it’s “a food product, essentially;” or Rick Perry’s belief that marriage equality equates to a war on Christmas, we regress as a country in our racial, social, gender, and cultural politics. Through my writing—on Womanist Musings and elsewhere—I hope to provide thoughtful and respectful analyses that encourage readers to look at how the past deeply influences today, but that it does not have to dictate how we understand and constructively engage one another in the future.