Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Vampire Diaries Season Four, Episode Two: Memorial

In the woods, Elena and Stephan wake up together.  We get a flashback to Stephan and Damon arguing over a blood source for Elena.  It's Stephen's plan to get Elena used to animal blood right from the get go.  Stephan feels that if she kills someone, she will turn off her humanity. Damon believes that Elena cannot learn to control the bloodlust until she experiences the blood lust. Damon tells Elena that vampires eat people and that this is part of the natural food pyramid. Honestly, Damon's approach is the most sensible.   Back in the woods, Stephan is trying to help Elena get acquainted with her vampire senses and as he touches her he tells her that everything is heightened, taste, touch, smell.  It's not long before clothes start to come off but Elena has to pull back to spit up the blood she ingested.

Conner Jordan enters the pastor's cabin and starts exploring the scene. In the oven he finds a letter addressed to April.

Damon is drinking at a bar when Liz puts a newspaper in front of him showing a reprot of what happened at the cabin.  Damon says that if he killed people that he wouldn't have blown them up. Liz says that it happened from within.  Connor Jordan approaches Liz to talk about the fire.

Jeremy and Matt are packing up paper lanterns for the memorial. Matt asks how Elena is doing and says that Elena is a vampire because of him and he would like to pay it forward.  Didn't we have enough of  poor Elena last week? April, who is Pastor Young's daughter approaches Jeremy saying that she is not much for grief and then takes off to register for school.

Elena is on the phone when Stephan enters with a bottle of champagne from the year she was born. He believes that they should celebrate her first feed, even though it was disgusting and traumatic. Stephen admits that he choked animal blood down for a month before he could handle the taste.  Elena notes that Stephan is so happy, and he say it's because she is alive and with him. Their kiss is interrupted with a phone call from Damon.

Elena shows up at the bar and asks Damon if he set off the explosion which blew up the town council. He denies any participation. Elena confides in Damon that she cannot keep any of the animal blood down and Damon points to different people that she can feed from.  Elena says that Stephen is right and that she has to get through this without hurting anyone. Is she ever going to clue in that she is a vampire?  Damon takes her into another room and then cuts open his hand. He tells her not to tell Stephan because blood sharing is personal.

Tyler and Caroline are having sex and she stops him saying that it's wrong because a bunch of people died.  He points out that if they stopped having sex every time someone died that they would explode. Tyler tells her that he loves her and Caroline says that she loves him too.  The doorbell rings and its Connor. He asks Carol Lockwood about the explosion and she replies that it is an internal matter. Conner says that it was a cover up and he wants to know why Carol was not at the meeting considering that she was the mayor.  Tyler comes downstairs to see what is going on and when he shakes Conner's hand his hand starts to sizzle. Conner pulls out a gun and shoots Tyler several times in the chest. On the ground Tyler opens his eyes, as Carol screams for him to run.  Hearing the shots, Caroline comes downstairs. Clearly Conner is town to clean up the vampire population, finishing what Pastor Young started.

Tyler is getting the slugs pulled out of him by Stephen, who says that the bullets were specially charged.  Tyler says that  Conner's gloves had to to be seeped in vervain and he knew what he was doing.  Finally, a new Black character that isn't a witch or a servant of the White population of Mystic Falls.  It seems that he is being set up as an antagonist though, so he is probably not going to be on the show for very long.

At the church, Matt is talking to Elena about how she feels. Matt points out that she didn't have to volunteer but she says that she had to because people she's known her whole life died.  When Elena sees April, she goes over to sit with her. They realise that they have not seen each other since Elena's parents funeral. April says that she was  asked to speak but does not know what to say and asks what happens if no one says anything.  April believes that everyone deserves to have something nice said about them at their funeral.  Elena tells April not to worry because everyone in the town loved Pastor Young.  As Elena is stoking April's arm, the blood list hits her. Elena just makes it to the bathroom in time to vomit up blood. It's a complete mess because she vomits literally everywhere.

Stephen knocks on Bonnie's door and when she does not answer, he says that it's important and he can hear her breathing.  Bonnie comes to the door and lets him in.  Bonnie says that it was like watching her grandmother die all over again and that she is a mess. Bonnie asks him what he needed and says that she is okay. Stephen shows her the slugs and says that they burn to the touch and asks if the writing on the bullets mean something.  Bonnie says that it's not magical.  Clearly Bonnie is hurting but of course she puts her pain aside to help Stephen.  She has lost so much but no one ever puts her pain first and I am so sick of how they are treating her character.  Because she is the resident witch she is nothing but a servant.

Elena is in the bathroom trying to clean up the mess and calls Damon, when Conner twists the handle trying to get in.  Damon shows up and when Conner offers his hand, Damon refuses to shake saying that he is a germaphobe. They play a little game of cat and mouse. When Elena leaves the bathroom, Damon tells Connor to enjoy his stay.  Conner then goes upstairs, and stabs Alice with a wooden stake.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Michael Brutsch and a Lesson in Free Speech

'Reddit presence in SL' photo (c) 2012, ▓▒░ TORLEY ░▒▓ - license:

I have been following the controversy of Michael Brutsch - the man who under the name Violentacrez became what could arguably be called, one of the most popular trolls online, through the social media platform Reddit.  He created multiple extremely popular subreddits like r/jailbait, r/rapejokes, and r/picsofdeadchildren.  Last week, Gawker revealed who Brutsch is to the world and he recently sat down with CNN reporter Drew Griffin, on Anderson 360.  The following is the interview.

Brutsch has since been fired from his job, lost his health insurance and is now worried about losing his home. The loss of his health insurance is a particularly difficult blow, because his wife is disabled. During the interview he revealed that the only reason he is stopping is because the world knows he is and that no one is going to buy into the Violentacrez persona anymore. Brutsch followed this up by adding that he has come to understand in the last few months that some of his creations can be harmful to people. To that I say uh huh.  It seems to me that when Brutsch was given a real world taste of what his online victims face, he simply couldn't deal with the repercussions. Anderson did a piece last year on 360 about his Violentacrez persona and he continued on because he remained anonymous. If Brutsch had really grown a conscience, would he have proudly displayed the award he received from Reddit for creating the r/jailbait?

Elle Shortchanges Octavia Spencer in Favour of Sarah Jessica Parker

I don’t understand how anyone could look at Octavia Spencer and not see the absolute beauty that she is.  Unfortunately, no matter how beautiful, talented or perceptive a Black woman is, she always gets the short end of the stick and this has everything do with racism.  All women must negotiate sexism, but Black women have the added negativity of racism and this places us continually behind White women in our warped social hierarchy.  Women’s activists would have us believe in a universal experience of womanhood, which forms the basis of our oppression but the truth is, even as White women are oppressed by patriarchy, racism means that they have privilege. The monolithic construction of womanhood is not only a lie but a direct negation of the experiences of women of colour. 

As much as the fashion industry creates harmful body image in women, the singular act which they can be counted upon to do is uplift White womanhood.  Looking at the newsstands, the one thing that these so-called women’s magazines all have in common are the overwhelming White faces staring back at us.  Octavia Spencer recently made the cover of Elle and I was excited when I first saw the image.  Spencer is a good role model and she is a wonderful example of just how beautiful Black womanhood can be.  I should have cooled my excitement when I realised that it was Elle magazine because the publication does not have a good track record when it comes to women of colour: Elle India decided to lighten the image of Aishwarya Rai, a renowned actress and winner of the 1995 Miss World pageant, when she appeared on the December 2010 cover. Gabourey Sidibe received the exact same treatment when she was featured on the cover of Elle in October 2010. This causes me to wonder if a woman of colour could ever be light-skinned enough to please Elle

Spencer is only featured in the subscriber edition, while the newsstand cover is Sarah Jessica Parker.  To be fair to Elle, this is not the first time that they have done multiple covers.  However, I cannot help but question the motivation behind having Sarah Jessica Parker on the newsstand copy rather than Octavia Spencer, given Elle’s history and the industry in which this occurred.  Black women have long been deemed to be unworthy of Front Cover status; often, they are relegated to "special editions."  The only women’s magazines which regularly feature women of colour are those specifically aimed at us, like Essence or Ebony.

What bothers me the most is the fact that women are told repeatedly how harmful these magazines are, yet it is rarely discussed how the erasure from this medium is harmful to Black girls and women.  Do we define beauty as thin and White, in the vein of Sarah Jessica Parker?  Is Octavia Spencer less than beautiful as a plus-sized Black woman?  Is she less marketable?  Less talented?  Obviously not.  But when a little girl of colour looks around and she does not see faces that look like her, she learns to believe that something is intrinsically wrong with her and that she is not valued. When it comes to the media, regardless of what format we discuss, women of colour are too often either pigeonholed into roles which are absolutely regressive or simply erased altogether. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What Does Fat have to do With Moderating a Presidential Debate?

I have a new piece up at Furgivore

Even before Tuesday’s Presidential debate, people had already taken to twitter to complain about the moderator Candy Crowley. Debates are polarizing events because each side is absolutely desperate for their candidate to prove himself and to score points against his opponent. In many cases, despite the best intentions of the moderator, they are hopelessly caught in the middle between two opposing forces. Citizens should have been concerned with moderator bias, soft ball questions or an inability to reign in the candidates, but none of the aforementioned issues was the overriding concern with Crowley. The overwhelming stated issue with Candy Crowley was her weight. Apparently, a fat woman had no right to moderate and take up space on such a large national stage.

Crowley is CNN’s chief political correspondent, specializing in U.S. presidential, gubernatorial, and Senate elections but that is not what people saw when she was chosen to moderate the debate. What people saw was her weight and based in the idea that fat people have nothing to offer socially, they decided to attack. Shock was even expressed that she was a fat vegetarian, as though such an occurrence is illogical and wrong. Everything that Crowley has achieved in her 60+ years on this planet was erased in order to fat shame her.

Though gender was largely absent from the conversation surrounding the choice of moderator, make no mistake about it, the fact that Crowley is a woman further encouraged the fat shaming. The policing of female bodies has become quite the national hobby, despite how harmful this is for girls and women. It’s about keeping women off balanced and focused on issues that are largely out of our control. Some of it is coded in the language of health, as though everyone despite education and experience, has the knowledge of a doctor. If it were easy for everyone to be skinny, considering the shaming and the attacks, rest assured that no one would be fat.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Dictonary and Marginalised People

This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky.    

There’s a really useful tool out there –  it’s called a dictionary. And it does an excellent job – if you come across a word and you don’t have a clue what it means, you can look in this wonderful book and get a rough, simplistic idea.

The problem with the poor dictionary is that it is often poorly used – and misused – by fools who are either ignorant or wilfully bigoted. We really need to look at the limits of this book.

Firstly, the dictionary is not an ultimate authority. It’s a brief answer, a vague idea, as concise as it can be to get the idea across. It is the Twitter of reference books.

And for most subjects we know this. If I look up “carrot” in the dictionary, most people will acknowledge I do not know all there is to know about carrots and if I truly want to understand carrots, I should probably pick up a horticultural text book. We know that legal and medical terms are going to be, at best, simplistically represented and know we need to find a lawyer or a doctor if we want to know more. Anyone deciding to base their argument on, say, a philosophical concept or term using the dictionary is going to be laughed at at best, or automatically lose whatever argument they’re trying to make at least.

Yet the minute we move into a social justice framework, the ultimate authority changes. We don’t need lived experience, we don’t need experts who have examined centuries of social disparities and discrimination, we don’t need societal context. We don’t need sociology or history – no, we have THE DICTIONARY! That ultimate tome of oracular insight, the last word on any debate!

It’s patently ridiculous and you can see that by applying it to any other field of knowledge. But the privileged will continually trot out simplistic, twitter-style dictionary definitions as if they are the last word and the ultimate authority. No-one would drag out the dictionary to debate science with a scientist. But they’re more than willing to trot out a dictionary definition of racism over any sociological analysis. A dictionary is not the ultimate authority - they’re a rough guide for you to discover the simple meaning of words you’ve never heard before – not an ultimate definition of what the word means and all its contexts.