Race and Gender Politics During the Zombie Apocalypse

At first, I thought this article at Salon was an April Fool’s joke:

twd

But I guess it’s for real. Of course, every cultural product is fair game for critique — even TV shows about the zombie apocalypse — and the author makes some interesting points. On the other hand, it’s a TV show about the fucking zombie apocalypse!

Some of the comments below the article were fascinating:

mikill330399: How do people live based on seeing nothing but classes of people? I dont live that way and therefore this column offends me. I have white/black/asian/indian friends and I dont see or treat them any different. I dont even notice their ethnicity. To me it is racist to classify everyone and see them as different. Needing to be portrayed a certain way means you dont see them as equal. Im surprised the author is not fighting for the Zombies as an opressed class.

Carlos H: If you “don’t even notice their ethnicity,” how do you know you have “white/black/asian/indian friends”? Maybe, they are just all white or all black. Please. The 1970’s called, it wants its “know-nothing” rhetoric about race back.

CitizenRob: It is possible to not notice a person’s race. Oprah and Colin Powell are two people who I didn’t realize were African American until they themselves, or somebody else mentioned. It wasn’t that I didn’t SEE their ethnicity, it was that somehow their personalities never gave me a chance to actually notice their ethnicity until they themselves brought my attention to it, (or in the case of Colin Powell a newscaster mentioned it during a story.) My only wish would be that it were possible to always approach all people this way. (See the person they are before their race/ethnicity.)

I’ve heard people say this before (that they don’t notice race or ethnicity), and honestly, I’ve always found the claim difficult to believe. I suspect humans are hardwired to categorize the people they see on a number of axes, including gender, age and race — despite the fact that the categories are fluid and/or meaningless to some extent. Isn’t the important thing what you do with that information?

[X-posted at Rumproast]

193 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    I’ve only caught a couple of episodes of Smash but I was surprised how white it is considering it takes place in New York and not, you know, Idaho.

    I’ve heard people say this before (that they don’t notice race or ethnicity), and honestly, I’ve always found the claim difficult to believe.

    I can see that. It took me several years to appreciate that my dogs were a completely different species and not, in fact, human beings.

  2. 2
    c u n d gulag says:

    It’s no wonder so many Conservatives still take Stephen Colbert seriously, and don’t see that he’s mocking them.

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    Wait till some white guy’s white wife gives birth to a black baby. I bet they’ll see race then. ;-)

  4. 4
    Schlemizel says:

    When I hear people claim they don’t see race what I think is that they want to pretend race does not matter. That way that don’t have to think about the impact color has on our society.

  5. 5
    c u n d gulag says:

    @Baud:
    A Conservative’s POV:

    That’s nothing!

    For years, I couldn’t fiugre out why my cat wasn’t turned on by catnip, until a friend said, “Nice-lookin’ dog ya got there!”

    And I still can’t see any difference.
    But at least now I know why he prefers chew-toys, and doesn’t climb trees.

  6. 6
    Superking says:

    I haven’t read the Salon article, because I still like to have fun in my life, but a while back I did read this from Buzzfeed: http://www.buzzfeed.com/chadwi.....ypses-must

    Here’s the key quote:

    Depending on whom you talk to, the zombie apocalypse is either really about zombies, or just something that turns everyone around you into desperate, selfish humans. When I was at the prepper convention earlier in the year, someone from Z.E.R.T. (Zombie Eradication Response Team), a collective of former soldiers who do survival training, told me that “zombie” is really just a palatable metaphor for some guy trying to take your stuff.

    I don’t think we have to strain ourselves to imagine what the unpalatable version of “zombie” is to these people.

  7. 7
    A Humble Lurker says:

    I will say, compared to the comics, two of the main ladies are significantly stupider and more annoying in the show. The farm girl and the samurai are awesome so far, though, and I’m looking forward to Tyreese and Sasha being part of the group.

  8. 8
    Phoebe Jean says:

    @Baud: WHAT?! THEY ARE?!

    I’ve heard people say this before (that they don’t notice race or ethnicity), and honestly, I’ve always found the claim difficult to believe.

    I am like that sometimes — other times not. Someone once asked me about our friends who were in an interracial relationship and I said, “What? Is he part Native American?” and they said, “No, she’s Asian.” She is obviously Asian; it just never occurred to me.

  9. 9
    Ash Can says:

    I had a couple of friends in college whom I didn’t realize were black until they said so. Their skin was lighter and their features weren’t obviously African to my thoroughly untrained white suburban eyes. I think they were a bit miffed about it too, and in 20/20 hindsight I can see why — it was as though I was saying to them, “You can’t be black unless you look like this.” I was ignorant, in the strict dictionary sense of the word; I had much to learn about races other than my own.

  10. 10
    themann1086 says:

    Colbert’s ongoing shtick on this is dead-on: “I don’t see race. People say I’m white and I believe them because [white stereotype].”

  11. 11
    Betty Cracker says:

    @A Humble Lurker: I haven’t read the comics, but I always found Lori supremely annoying on the show, mostly because I wanted to slap her (and Rick!) and say, “Watch your fucking kid! It’s the zombie apocalypse, stupids!”

    I never understood all the Andrea hate. Sure, she made some stupid choices. But she was mostly capable and smart. The article made the point that the menfolk had to teach her to shoot, but I don’t find that implausible or sexist; the men were cops, and she was a civil rights lawyer. It makes sense that she wouldn’t know how to shoot and they would.

    Farm girl (Maggie) is awesome, and Michonne is only the coolest and most capable person on the show. The columnist’s critiques of those characters led me to believe she either doesn’t really watch the show or doesn’t understand it.

  12. 12
    Zirgar says:

    We all see race and gender and whatever other differences we may have. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s how we respond to those differences and act upon them that matters. We can use them as reasons to exclude or as reasons to be inclusive.

  13. 13
    khead says:

    @Baud:

    MAURY! You are NOT the father.

  14. 14
    Baud says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    And doesn’t use the litter box!

  15. 15
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    It’s possible to think of ethnicity in the same class as hair color; I’ve done it most of my life. Which is entirely a white person’s luxury, but which makes perfect sense on my parents’ part as a response to some nastily racist family members.

    But to “not realize” Oprah and Powell are black? That’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. That’s “promoting” them to white person status. Power == white; anyone occupying that powerful position is, at a minimum, an honorary white.

  16. 16
    Morzer says:

    Hell, I thought Tunch was black!

    Of course, the pictures could be fakes… like the moon landings…

  17. 17
    c u n d gulag says:

    @Baud:

    A Conservative’s POV:
    Yeah, I kept wondering why he’d sit by the door like he wanted me to take him out for a walk, and then poop right there, pissing me off.

    On the other hand, I only had to buy kitty-litter once.

  18. 18
    'Niques says:

    When I lived in the Virgin Islands, I remember telling my then-husband about a lovely older lady I had met. He asked if she was West Indian, and I honestly had to stop and think about it. It just wasn’t an important detail. I’m proud of myself for that. I’ve had similar experiences since.

  19. 19
    Hawes says:

    Soooo, the psychopathic Governor is an example of racism in TV? Aren’t historians being racist when they show that Hitler was a white German? And the sympathetic treatment of Merle just shows how affectionate the show is for racists rednecks.

    And sociologically, I think patriarchies DID in fact arise in areas of constant warfare. Less combative environments tended to be more matriarchal.

  20. 20
    RSA says:

    Just a few disconnected thoughts:

    Zombie movies have often been vehicles for social commentary; the first two George Romero zombie movies (Night and Dawn) are the best-known examples, but we can even see it in Shaun of the Dead.

    The Salon comment section is a cesspool of trollery.

    The line “To me it is racist to classify everyone and see them as different” is pretty much saying, “Let’s eliminate racism by pretending it doesn’t exist. Problem solved!”

  21. 21
    oldster says:

    “Citizen Rob”‘s story seems to be:

    General Colin Powell–I can’t believe it isn’t whiteness!

    But then after he was discredited for public fibbing, I noticed he was black.

    Come to think of it, I now think he may have been black all along, and fibbing about that, too.

    That’s how totally non-racist I am!

  22. 22
    Va Highlander says:

    @Hawes:

    Less combative environments tended to be more matriarchal.

    Such as?

  23. 23
    maurinsky says:

    I can see whether someone is black or white or Asian – most of the time. I just try not to assume that I know anything else about them based on the color of the skin or the shape of their eyes or whatever.

  24. 24
    Raven says:

    @Va Highlander: Like when Indira Ghandi and Golda Meir’s countries were at war while they were in office.

  25. 25
    A Humble Lurker says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    Oh yeah. Laurie was still the ‘annoying woman that’s designed to make the main dude’s life even harder’ in the comics, but she was definitely not as bad there. I was always torn on Andrea because she was such a badass who could totally hold her own (even before she could shoot and was still screwed up over Amy) but did things that made me want to bang my head against the wall. She’s a terrible judge of character, especially when it comes to men. I get that there aren’t a lot of option in the ZA but still. I suppose that’s the writer’s fault, though, making things so obvious to us while keeping her unaware.

    But I’m still dearly loving Michonne and Maggie, and given time, Beth could become an awesome zombie-killing force to be reckoned with too.

  26. 26
    nancydarling says:

    @Va Highlander: Bonobo chimpanzees.

  27. 27
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Schlemizel:

    When I hear people claim they don’t see race what I think is that they want to pretend race does not matter. That way that don’t have to think about the impact color has on our society.

    Some of us really don’t consider it that important. My mother made a point of teaching me that it really doesn’t matter. Class, OTOH, mattered a great deal, but she defined class by behavior. Rude (or psychotic, like my neighbors) was “low class” or “trash”. You could find “high class folk” in the projects as easily as in Brentwood. I was almost 40 before it sank in that most other people don’t see it that way.

  28. 28
    Va Highlander says:

    @RSA:

    The line “To me it is racist to classify everyone and see them as different” is pretty much saying, “Let’s eliminate racism by pretending it doesn’t exist. Problem solved!”

    It happens. I know a Basque Marxist that blogs about genetics and anthropology and argues that there is no such thing as race. Now, that’s true, insofar as race is indeed a social construct. But then he turns around and uses language, or broad, ill-defined categories like “ethno-cultural group”, as proxies for race and bases his peculiar bigotries on those instead.

    He once spent a couple of days trawling the Intertubes for pictures of Native Americans, Latinos, Polynesians, and so on, in a bizarre attempt to prove that I couldn’t tell one from another. In the end, all he proved was that all those brown people looked alike to him. It was sad. And hilarious.

  29. 29
    Morzer says:

    @nancydarling:

    The myth of the peaceful bonobos was debunked some years ago.

    http://www.chinapost.com.tw/li.....s-apes.htm

    Despite their reputation as lovers not fighters of the primate world, bonobos actually hunt and eat other great apes, German researchers said Monday.
    Their findings, the first direct evidence of hunting by the so-called “hippie” apes, show that such behavior is not linked to male dominance as females rule bonobo society and also go on hunts.
    “We always have this view that hunting is a male business,” said Gottfried Hohmann of the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. “What our study shows is this is not necessarily the case.
    “This has implications for models on early humans that people have proposed how humans have evolved,” said Hohmann, whose findings are published in Current Biology.

  30. 30
    Va Highlander says:

    @Raven: And Elizabeth I of England. There’s one of the great unsung pacifists of history. Victoria is another.

    @nancydarling: I thought were discussing homo and not pan. Am I wrong?

  31. 31
    Morzer says:

    @Va Highlander:

    Give it five minutes and someone will bring up Marija Gimbutas.

  32. 32
    Linda says:

    @Baud: If I could “like” a comment on a blog, it would be yours.

    I think people really mean it when they say stuff like “I never see race,” but that’s because they are (I’m guessing here) white people living in a society where they are the overwhelming majority, and the default setting for their universe is “white people.” If they were put in a setting where most of the people where Somebody Not Like Them, they would notice race real fast. I grew up in Detroit in the 60s and 70s, where most of the people I came in contact with weren’t white. Being in a minority will change your perception of the no-race idea.

  33. 33
    Baud says:

    I don’t see gender very well either. It’s led to some awkward situations.

  34. 34

    @Morzer: Speaking of zombies.

  35. 35
    pika says:

    Re: ” On the other hand, it’s a TV show about the fucking zombie apocalypse!” Actually, as zombies are nothing if not about slavery, the U.S. obsession with zombies is very telling as a way of dealing with ongoing fears of rebellion and revolution. This is just one (accessible) source: http://io9.com/a-history-of-zo.....ca-5692719

  36. 36
    Robert says:

    That post starts off perfectly sensible in its critique and then goes off the rails in a few short paragraphs. There’s this sexual conquest angle that is not at all based on the show. The victim, Michonne, they describe is a target for revenge after doing something horrible to her potential assailant. It has nothing to do with her gender or race and everything to do with her stabbing someone in the eye with a piece of glass during a fight and being a BAMF/threat to others.

    I write a lot of strange pop culture critiques. I’ve done similar posts on Mad Men taking into consideration the intentions of the writers and the growth of the female characters throughout the show. The key is actually basing the critique in the context of the show rather than cherry-picking potentially offensive content and misconstruing its intent for clicks.

    For example, I shot out 800 words yesterday on how a video game fails to reach its full potential because the standard game controls (of a more popular genre) shoveled into the narrative telegraph where every single twist and turn in the story will come. I could have said it was a terrible game because of an unfortunate flaw just to troll people; I didn’t. I couched the critique in praise for the overall product and acknowledgement of the innovative game concept. Context, drawn from the real world and the creation of the artists themselves, cannot be ignored just to prove a point. It’s disingenuous at best and trolling at worst.

  37. 37
    Sly says:

    “Blindness” has a certain appeal as a way of prohibiting potential biases (and, more importantly, accusations of bias), and that can be a pretty strong imperative given the social taboos against said biases. But its a somewhat dangerous position to hold. Even if we concede that “blindness” works on an individual level (and I do not), not only does it not address systemic biases, but blinds the individual to those biases as well.

    In other words, you may not see a difference in black and white, but the bank and the police department sure fuckin’ do. And because you’re content around in your smug, post-racial superiority, that’s one less person to bring pressure against the bank and the police department to change how they act.

  38. 38
    Keith G says:

    Most of Hollywood has a problem with race, gender, sexuality. It astounds me since it isn’t string theory. It should be easy to get this stuff right.

    But then, it is only make believe that has been hijacked by (mostly) soulless corporations to accumulate specific collections of viewers that they can action off like chattel to other soulless corporations.

    Which makes me wonder why any would care to spend the time whinging about this one specific example.

  39. 39
    Steeplejack says:

    @Raven:

    Remember that thing called the Yom Kippur War?

  40. 40
    Genine says:

    The “I don’t see color” position can be problematic because then all behavior is filtered through “whiteness”. It can be argued that Oprah and Colin Powell both adhere to the dominant culture standard and so no one notices their race because they don’t deviate from the “norm” much. One may not notice that Oprah is black but one will note that Erykah Badu is black because of her speech, her kids and her style of dress. It deviates from the norm (the norm being representative of the dominant culture). And it’s funny that the person mentions Powell’s race mentioned in a newscast. Colin Powell has been in television numerous times however his race became an issue when he voted for the black guy. Interesting that.

    Anyway, I’m a far-cry from being voted Miss Black Panther 2013 but it is something I notice. I ascribed to the school of colorblindness as well until someone mentioned that people who say they’re “colorblind” tend to have unresolved racist tendencies. And I can see that. Recently I got braids and some of my white friends were shocked. “But that’s so black!” or “Black people get braids” or “Why did you get a black hairstyle?” And I would give them a certain look reminding them I am black. And the response would be “Well yeah but….” or as one friend put it “You’re not BLACK black.” LOL!

    I have a lot of white friends. I went to mostly white schools (they couldn’t be ALL white. I was there. :)) I have a number of friends (not just one) of almost every shade. As someone said before, there is nothing wrong with noticing a difference. It’s how you react to the difference. And if you don’t want to notice a difference, why? Would it change how you feel? Something I’ve had to ask some friends to think about over the years.

    And now I’m off to work. :)

  41. 41
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    Discussions of zombies requires a mention of a book that explores the themes in the various depictions.

    Theories of International Politics and Zombies

    Yes, zombies have been portrayed as the oppressed class.

  42. 42
    wonkie says:

    I didn’t see race when i was a little kid. When I was 12 I had a black friend. She was the only black kid in school and her family was the only black family in town. ( central Iowa). I could tell her skin was brown, of course, but I didn’t “see” it because it had no connotations for me.

    Then my Sunday school ( Unitarian) class started studying the Civil Rights movement and I learned about racism.
    I was shocked. I also felt paranoid suddenly–what if my friend thought I was a racist like those bad people in the South? What if I accidently said or did something wrong?

    After that I went through a period of being sort of hyper aware of race. That lasted until I moved to a West Coast city, grew up, and lived in a multicultural environment. Betty hit the nail on the head: its not a matter of not seeing race. It’s what you do with the information.

  43. 43
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    The show didn’t hold my interest after the first few episodes (De gustibus non est disputandum.) so I’m not a partisan. The linked article struck me as ride-along on the author’s favorite hobby horse. The show wasn’t to my taste, so what? Inferring that it’s the “Amos n’ Andy” of race and gender equality seems a bit of a reach.

  44. 44
    BigSouthern says:

    Yeah, it’s just a show about the zombie apocalypse, but it’s also the most widely-watched show on cable so it matters what reinforcing messages wrt race and gender it sends out to its audience. The analysis in that Salon article was shockingly accurate.

    I can think of few things that rank higher on the white supremacy fantasy chart than “treat a POC like shit and have them thank me for it” and that’s exactly what this season has done to Michonne. Last night she had the good graces to thank Rick for an entire season of distrust, disloyalty and his initial willingness to sacrifice her to a psychopath. Later, she got to play the role again for Andrea and give her atonement for being a fucking asshole after she saved her from certain death. Before that, her largest speaking role was in an episode where she played nanny for Carl in “Clear,” making sure to do the job his absentee father wouldn’t and gave him the forgiveness his mother couldn’t.

  45. 45
    WereBear says:

    Hmm, The Walking Dead that I watch could have used some women police officers or military from the get-go, but I think they at least try to be even-handed; Merle and his brother being classic examples of similar types going in different directions.

    Personally, I notice, but more than I used to, because I now live in a majority white area. When I lived in the NY Metro Area, it honestly was less noticeable because there was a rainbow of skin color, ethnicity, origins… so I also believe people from a diverse environment who might not notice unless prompted.

  46. 46
    jeffreyw says:

    @Morzer:

    Give it five minutes and someone will bring up Marija Gimbutas.

    Yes, that is usually referred to as P.I.E.’s Law.

  47. 47
    cathyx says:

    There is nothing racist about recognizing that someone is of a particular race. The racism comes in when they treat them in a negative way because of it.

  48. 48
    Dissent says:

    T-Dog gets nothing to do second season. Third season, grows an interesting character/conscience over the moral dilemma with prisoners, gets immediately slaughtered.

    Michonne spends more screen time glowering than anything else. And moody stares aren’t very interesting.

    Not saying necessarily racist. But the show doesn’t give black characters much of a chance. (That being said, best character by far is Morgan, in the brief instances we’ve seen him).

  49. 49
    gvg says:

    Well it depends on how you interact. for some reason I prefer to read my news. can’t stand TV, don’t like talk on radios, pretty much use the internet in print form. I also like my fiction printed better than video. It is quite possible for me to not notice an ethnicity depending on the writer. Some of them make it more relevant than others in both good and bad ways. blog chats also make it clear gender doesn’t come through very well.

    In a lot of situations it doesn’t make any difference and in many more it shouldn’t….things are getting better or it wouldn’t have been possible for Obama to win elections. If a person isn’t like us, watching the politics and the hater nuts come out the last few years…its quite possible that it just doesn’t matter much. I’m sure that is easier and more likely for a white person but still comfortable people busy in their lives can just get desensitized to noticing much.

    Its also pretty easy to just be wrong about ethnicity based on someones looks. We have so many immigrant sources in our history, there has been a lot of intermarriage and genetic looks aren’t that predictable. Plus not everyone cares enough to learn what all the look clues mean.

    then there is life experience. Lots of us have found character matters more and bad traits can come from anywhere and need to be noticed and avoided if you want to avoid pain. Liars, users, hurters make bad bosses, coworkers, neighbors your kids teachers etc. Paying attention to those warning signs yields better life outcomes right? It ought to be common sense to push noticing race down your list.

    I do notice race in most cases, because I think it’s right to be a defender and I know the attacks going on right now plus I know history but I used to not be so sensitive.

    My workplace is much better than the political arena right now. Not noticing race would be pretty easy if the crazy outside of hear would just shut up.

  50. 50
    Dave says:

    The basic assumption that race is something one “sees” — the notion that it is reducible to appearance — is frankly absurd. Race is not just a visible thing that one can look at or ignore; it’s a set of shared historical experiences and cultural forms. The visibility or lack thereof of race is really quite a canard.

  51. 51
    Brian R. says:

    Some touchy-feely reporter tried this with Jim Brown back in the ’60s or ’70s. “When I look at you, I don’t see a black man, I just see a man.” Brown snapped at him, “Oh, come on, look at me. I’m black!”

  52. 52
    Redshirt says:

    I see all life as a glowing aura. I judge you based on your aura.

  53. 53

    @jeffreyw:

    Yes, that is usually referred to as P.I.E.’s Law.

    Good one!

  54. 54
    J.W. Hamner says:

    Those claims are generally the start of “blacks/liberals are the REAL racists” arguments, so that makes them dubious at best.

    Even if true, aren’t they essentially saying “I see social class, not skin color… It doesn’t matter if they’re black or white, I just hate poor people!” Is that really supposed to be that much better?

  55. 55
    Face says:

    Oprah and Colin Powell are two people who I didn’t realize were African American until they themselves, or somebody else mentioned.

    CitizenRob brings the funneh.

  56. 56
    Funkula says:

    Colin Powell I can almost buy, because he’s really light-skinned. I don’t think I ever would have pegged Harold Ford as black were it not the context in which I first heard of him (the “Call me!” ads). Oprah, though? Dude is either lying or subconsciously promoting her to Honorary White Lady.

  57. 57
    Del says:

    @Sly: In other words, you may not see a difference in black and white, but the bank and the police department sure fuckin’ do. And because you’re content around in your smug, post-racial superiority, that’s one less person to bring pressure against the bank and the police department to change how they act.

    If I lived my life being controlled by all of the things that this society does collectively that piss me off or that I know are wrong I’d either die of a heart attack or shoot someone.

    I was raised on a simple set of rules: 1) Don’t be a jerk, and 2) Class matters. I genuinely don’t care what race someone is. Sure, I notice it, but it gets lumped into the same descriptive qualities part of my brain as their clothing style, height, or hair color. I’m a 5’4″ Scottish/Welsh mutt who’s married to a 5’6″ beauty who’s equal parts Western Soviet and Japanese. Her race was never an issue at all until her Japanese grandfather threw a fit that his “little orchid” was dating a white girl.

    And the “tragedy of the commons” argument against racial equality? That’s a new one for me, but not exactly persuasive. It is possible to be pissed at the banks and the police because they’re being fundimentally unfair and are utilizing racial profiling as part of that unfairness. It is possible to recognize that the world is filled with racist assholes without having to see the world through their filter.

    I care about class and wealth far more than I ever will about race. I see the world through the lens of
    Marxian conflict theory. That isn’t being smug, that’s attacking the issue from a different angle.

  58. 58
    Morzer says:

    @jeffreyw:

    *bows in awe*

    Or awrrgghhjk* as we say in Tocharian C++.

  59. 59
    Cermet says:

    @Phoebe Jean: Wow, you are sooo color blind that we must ask – are you sure your father and mother are both male and you missed that too?

  60. 60
    the Conster says:

    I see dead people.

  61. 61
    Cermet says:

    @Cermet: New balloon juice does not appear to allow one to correct typo’s after the fact so that should have read ‘father and mother aren’t’ and not ‘are’ …

  62. 62
    Redshirt says:

    All zombies look the same to me.

  63. 63
    dan says:

    Yeah, great. I am looking forward to a 2 hour discussion on Race and Gender Politics During the Zombie Apocalypse on Melissa Harris Perry this Saturday. Of course, humor-free.

  64. 64
    Mark S. says:

    @Redshirt:

    Me too. I just see zombie; I don’t see race.

  65. 65
    Del says:

    @dan: Hell this is nothing. One of the Resident Evil games that came out in the last couple years got massive pushback because a large bulk of the zombies were black even though the setting was in Africa for that particular game in the series.

  66. 66
    Chris says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    I was going to use the hair color analogy myself. Saying that you don’t notice when people are black is like saying you don’t notice when people are redheads. You don’t have to care, but unless you’re actually blind, I have real trouble believing you “don’t notice.”

  67. 67
    Narcissus says:

    I watch the Walking Dead and it has serious problems with race and gender.

    Google Black Highlander and the Walking Dead for one thing.

    ETA: For that matter the Walking Dead has serious problems with writing and plot.

  68. 68
    NCSteve says:

    @Schlemizel: Bingo.

  69. 69
    jibeaux says:

    Only black guy I didn’t see as black is Rep. G. K. Butterfield. Whose name would make an excellent candy, by the way, a nice caramelly candy.

  70. 70
    Emma says:

    If you live in South Florida, “race” is a minefield. On the “black” side there are African-Americans, black Cuban immigrants and black Cuban-Americans, Haitian immigrants and Haitian-Americans, Jamaican immigrants and Jamaican-Americans (plus others). On the “latino” side there are Cubans and Cuban-Americans, Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans, Argentinian immigrants and Argentinian-Americans, Costa Rican immigrants…. and I think you get the point.

    EDIT: And don’t assume color has anything to do with identification. There are white Jamaicans and Haitians!

    The thing is, ALL THESE GROUPS TEND TO BE CULTURALLY DIFFERENT. So assuming anything about any person you meet can land you in trouble. The only intelligent thing to do is to notice, accept, don’t assume anything and don’t be a jerk.

  71. 71
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Chris: Exactly.

    Another thing that happens with race (and gender) is that, due to the nature of our society, race and gender necessarily cause different people to have different experiences. These experiences necessarily color one’s views. My lily white niece and nephew will probably grow up with a more positive view of the police than AA kids of similar age and social class. And so on.

  72. 72
    JoyfulA says:

    I was once in the late 1970s a supervisor of administrative assistants, about two-thirds white and a third black. Working closely with a group of people for a couple of years, I truly became unaware of “color.” I was so delighted when I realized that to determine someone’s race, I had to visualize a person and then decide.

    Since then, I’ve mostly been self-employed and working by myself, and I know among friends and acquaintances who gets classified into which category. But I know it’s possible not to know, which keeps hope alive.

  73. 73
    Sly says:

    @Del:

    That isn’t being smug, that’s attacking the issue from a different angle.

    And not seeing some principle weaknesses of both your own position and your adversaries while you do it. But you feel better for not “seeing” race, and that’s what’s important, right?

  74. 74
    RaflW says:

    It’s about unexamined whiteness. Whiteness works in such a way that the dominant culture is perceived as “no culture” or at least “not ethnic.”

    Classic is in grocery stores of old (and still some small town stores). There’s an ethnic aisle, and it has mexican and asian foods in it. Pasta and tomato sauce is in the ‘regular grocery’ aisles. Because, well, white people eat Italian food (white by mid-20th century definition, whiteness didn’t apply to Italians back in the Ellis Island days).

    Not seeing Oprah as black relates to her having mostly characteristics of the dominant culture in terms of speech, hair, fashion, and her TV life aspirations, such as we can glean them. And its fine that she is who she is.

    But the “I don’t see her as black” thing is really, she fits white suburban expectations, so her “ethnicity” is neutralized, just like Ragu sauce is totally neutral to most people (well, it’s crap sauce, but that’s one of the unfortunate side-effects of our dominant culture: it all becomes American cheese – salty, processed and preserved).

    My 2 cents on all this…

  75. 75
    jibeaux says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: This is probably true, and me being a lily white lady I don’t get an increased heart rate or anything when I see a cop, and I understand why that is. But I have had two times when I had to report a crime, a break in at my house and the theft of a car out of the driveway. And NEITHER time did the cop believe me. In the first case, he tried to convince me that I’d had a party and probably someone had taken my laptop then. (There was a giant footprint on my back door where someone had kicked the door in, which he hadn’t seen because he was still in the car.) In the second, he tried to tell us it was probably repo’d. There was just open skepticism by the police that any crime had actually occurred. Does anyone else encounter this? Are they trained to assume that people are filing a false police report until it’s proven otherwise?

  76. 76
    A Humble Lurker says:

    Yeah the whole ‘I don’t see race’ thing is kind of a product of White Privilege, isn’t it? I mean, okay, let’s say you don’t notice someone’s race or you think of them as a person first or whatever. That does not mean there aren’t racist scuzzball scratchers out there who do. And even though it’s something nobody deserves, it’s still a part of reality that should probably be acknowledged that your black friends have to deal with this when you don’t.

    The races aren’t different in their values as human beings, but they can definitely be different in their experiences. Not seeing that is being blinded by your own.

  77. 77

    @Morzer: Well when a white dwarf star does eventually collapse into a black hole.

  78. 78
    Del says:

    @Sly: And what, exactly, would I do differently if I attacked this issue on race instead of class? Do I get brownie points for denying my upringing of not giving a shit about race? Do I need to have have the proper level of white guilt while ignoring the underlying economic causes of racism in favor of focusing on skin color? No, seriously, what do I have to gain by not just fighting against rich people and assholes for being rich assholes? Do I need to see the world as a race war when we live in an oligarchy content to sow strife among the lower classes to keep itself in power?

  79. 79
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    I don’t see race or even ethnicity. Not me. Midgets, on the other hand, make me sick.

  80. 80
    Redshirt says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: That doesn’t happen. White Dwarfs and Black Holes don’t mix.

    Racist universe!

  81. 81
    Amir Khalid says:

    We should be skeptical about anyone’s, including our own, assessment of their own prejudices, about race as much as about anything else.
    That said, I’m unacquainted with the TV show discussed in the Salon story so I have a question. If you assume that race has nothing to do with what goes on in the show, i.e. if you take the race politics out of Lorraine Berry’s critique of recent plot developments, does the critique still make sense?

  82. 82
    burnspbesq says:

    It’s not that you don’t notice. It’s that you decide (perhaps consciously, perhaps not) that it doesn’t matter to you.

  83. 83
    boss bitch says:

    That guy didn’t notice Oprah and Colin Powell were Black until someone told him? What he meant was that Oprah and Colin didn’t fit his stereotypical views of Blacks and was therefore shocked, shocked that these successful, polish and articulate people weren’t White.

    Got it.

  84. 84
    maurinsky says:

    My mother was hyper-aware of everyone’s ethnicity and always mentioned that someone was Jewish or Irish or Italian or Polish or whatever. She didn’t do this to judge, she just was sort of viva la difference about it.

    My parents both *hate* cops, though, and if I have a cop behind me on the road, I try to get off the road as soon as possible, even though I’m a white lady and my car is insured and registered and I have no outstanding warrants or tickets. I’m not sure why they hate cops so much, but I do know that I’m a law abiding person, and the majority of my experiences with cops have been negative – including getting screamed at once by a cop when I called them because there was a drunk person trespassing in our yard who refused to leave.

  85. 85
    Randy P says:

    @Linda: Maybe, maybe not. I ride public transportation a lot and after any given ride I couldn’t tell you if the car I had been riding was mostly-black, mostly-white, or mixed. Unless I make a point of looking out of curiosity. Same thing in ethnic restaurants, except that there I more often do a conscious survey because percent of non-gringos is an important quality measure for me.

  86. 86
    Sputnik Sweeetheart says:

    @Funkula: Yes, it struck me that Citizen Rob is seeing white as the default ethnicity and that everyone is white until proven otherwise.

  87. 87
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    Once when I was helping another prosecutor manage a very large docket of preliminary hearings, we had sort of divvied up the cases. When the judge took a break, some witnesses approached. One was from a family feud case, as we called it, that my colleague was going to present. The witness I pointed him out – of a very crowded room – to my colleague who went over to talk to him, but it was not the witness I’d mentioned.

    The man I pointed at was about 5’8″, short black hair greying at the temples, with a mustache, wearing a red crewneck sweater and dark pants. I called the witness’s name and a man responded who was about 5’8″, short black hair greying at the temples, with a mustache, wearing an orange sweatshirt and black jeans. I told my colleague “see, they look exactly alike,” and I meant it. His response was (a slightly exasperated) “Bella, one was black and one was white.” He rolled his eyes when I answered “but besides that, they look exactly alike.” It’s a bit of a courthouse legend at this point, that I’d make a truly unhelpful witness. As would a friend of mine, which is another story about how he described me over the phone to a trial witness who was coming to meet us at court, while looking right at me. Provided upon request only.

  88. 88
    sparrow says:

    @Linda: Yes. When I was a young, white, middle-class girl growing up in my suburban bubble, I also thought I “didn’t see race” as important. The truth was that race had never been a negative for ME. Now, to be fair, I grew up in a bubble so impervious that I really did not have any racial prejudices (‘sensitivity training’ that we got in freshman orientation was eye-opening simply because I didn’t even KNOW about all those stereotypes), but I also was basically blind to my own priviledge and the hardships/challenges of living in a society that absolutely DOES see race, and being in a minority group. Yeah. Growing up is good.

  89. 89
    Cassidy says:

    Why is this controversial? Yes the wimmens will need taking care of during the ZA and it will take stand up Uber-males with guns (lots and lots of shiny guns) to fix it!

    In all seriousness, though, I don’t watch the Walking Dead. I’d love to, but it’s one of those shows I don’t have the time to commit to and I’ll watch it in marathons at some point. But, a couple of the things that have bothered me about the early episodes I saw is that I think a lot of it’s dynamic goes against basic human nature. We’re not hunters and gatherers anymore and I don’t give a shit how many days of the year you go hunting, how deep your accent is, and what kind of trailer you used to live in, we’re not nomads and I think just about damn near everyone is going to find a place to fortify and shore up. Humans seem to work better at defense and stable communities. I’d like to see a story that explores the dynamic of several families/ groups of people trying to create a safe environment, forage for supplies, and deal with the inevitable interactions of who’s in charge, who has what jobs and what do you do to those who refuse to get along or help. Do you set them outside your gate knowing your killing them? What about their family? How do you handle breeding? Humans need sex, but the last thing you need is someone having a baby. Where do you get fresh water? Who’sin charge of the gardens on the roof? Etc., etc., etc.

    That’s the story I’d be interested in only in that it seems more likely.

  90. 90

    We are hardwired to notice changes. In India for example, where there no sharp visible cues, people will try to figure out by your last name, your accent etc, where you are from.

  91. 91
    Sly says:

    @Del:

    And what, exactly, would I do differently if I attacked this issue on race instead of class?

    Race and class and intertwined in many ways, not the least of which is that class distinctions among the dominant culture are muted by dominant racial stereotypes. What you miss out by being blind to race is to see how it is intertwined, consciously and unconsciously, in everyone.

    Do I get brownie points for denying my upringing of not giving a shit about race? Do I need to have have the proper level of white guilt while ignoring the underlying economic causes of racism in favor of focusing on skin color?

    If social activism is about your feelings of acceptance or guilt, you’re doing it wrong. You have responsibilities and obligations towards others that are no different from anyone else’s.

    No, seriously, what do I have to gain by not just fighting against rich people and assholes for being rich assholes?

    Understanding how rich people and assholes co-opt social and economic distinctions in order to further their ambitions as rich assholes.

    Do I need to see the world as a race war when we live in an oligarchy content to sow strife among the lower classes to keep itself in power?

    Yes, because that race war can be and in many ways is an element in that sowing of strife.

  92. 92
    The Moar You Know says:

    I’ve heard people say this before (that they don’t notice race or ethnicity), and honestly, I’ve always found the claim difficult to believe.

    I’m glad to hear that because it is utter bullshit. We’re hardwired to notice such things. It used to be (hell, still is, depending on where in this country of jackasses you live) an important survival trait.

    And boy, oddly enough I’ve never heard a person of color say this. What do you think the odds are of a black guy walking into a Georgia country bar at 1am on a Friday night and living long enough to buy a drink, sit and enjoy it, and make it back to his car? HE fucking well notices race and ethnicity.

  93. 93
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Amir Khalid: I don’t assume that race or gender politics have nothing to do with the show — they are overt themes in some episodes. I do think Berry makes much more of it in her article than warranted in some specific cases, though I agree with her on other points.

    I agree with you 100% about being skeptical of our own assessments of biases — including our own. It’s a constant learning experience.

  94. 94

    @Redshirt:You get white, when all the colors in the spectrum are reflected, and black when all the colors in the spectrum are absorbed.

    So human beings really are neither black nor white, we are all just shades of brown.

  95. 95
    Evilbeard says:

    I sort of bad for people who make the claim they don’t see race but mostly I feel embarrassed for their ignorance of their own white privilege. Make no mistake it’s *always* white people who make the claim of color blindness.

    Hey people who make that claim: No one believes you and it makes you sound like a tool.

  96. 96
    Redshirt says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Groovy, man.

    For real: When appointed DICTATOR OF THE WORLD FOR LIFE, I’ll implement a breeding program designed to make everyone in the world vaguely African/Asian. One world, people!

  97. 97
    White Trash Liberal says:

    I see the problems with The Walking Dead through a writerly filter. The pilot was a tremendous success in terms of narrative, tone and character. It set expectations very high in that it largely obeyed the comic, but deviated at a few points which improved the story.

    Then things went wacky. Frank Darabont had less and less to do with the show until he was finally fired. Writers, directors and producers have been shuffled around. Most long-running successful shows have a stable of writers and directors working under a producer with little interference from the network. Instead, TWD is a smash hit and the network is constantly teabagging the product.

    This shows in the final product. Characters are poorly developed, their decision-making ranges from stupid to convenient, and the narrative is incoherent. The death of Andrea was a last minute decision, for example. To me this shows that the people responsible for this show have no vision behind week-to-week concepts.

    That being said, the poor racial and gender portrayals are valid. However, I pin it on poor craft. The writers are relying on tropes or sometimes (T-Dog) forget that character even exists for weeks at a time until it is time to fatten them up with humanity in order to sacrifice them with a tragic death.

    However, the show has the best ratings on television, getting better with each season. I, for one, continue to watch and enjoy it in spite of (sometimes because of) its flaws.

  98. 98
    GregB says:

    Conservatives don’t see race and realize that accusations of racism are just liberal tools to stifle debate.

    For instance Dr. Ben Carson and Alan West are constantly attacked for being proud black conservatives and the people who attack them are racists.

    I think that’s how this race talk works in conservative circles.

  99. 99
    The Moar You Know says:

    I sort of bad for people who make the claim they don’t see race but mostly I feel embarrassed for their ignorance of their own white privilege. Make no mistake it’s *always* white people who make the claim of color blindness.

    Hey people who make that claim: No one believes you and it makes you sound like a tool.

    @Evilbeard: Better said than mine. Thanks.

  100. 100
    Slaughter says:

    Y’know, I didn’t fully appreciate until Election Day 2008 that Obama was black. The campaign had lasted a year and a half, so by then he had evolved into a young Democrat vs. another old-fogey Republican.

  101. 101
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Genine: Oh, hell, I’d forgotten about the time I got braids and inadvertently started a gigantic kerfuffle around the courthouse because it was so widely commented on. At the same time, a colleague of mine had braids and hardly anyone noticed. She was black, of course. It’s hard to believe I was that naive.

    I should have gotten a clue when I was calling recommended braiders, and asking about where to get the synthetic hair for lengths, and a couple said “oh, you’re white? I can’t braid white hair.” By the third I started with “I’m white, is that a problem?” Her laughing response was “only if it is for you.” She did a great job, and I loved it.

    Though as it turned out, in the end there were some constructive discussions in that courthouse community on race and dominant culture as a result. But it was a bit of a a wild ride getting to that point.

  102. 102
    ruemara says:

    Having always been an acceptable negress, except when I wanted to be hired at a fair wage or be promoted or not get a ticket for something a cop would just give a white person a warning about, I had to learn to understand that I was BLACK and that prejudice from the non-blacks was a real and pernicious thing. Not saying it’s bigotry, since people seem to believe that if they aren’t starting their bbqs with a charcoal cross on my law, they “don’t see race”. Race is a fact, judgments are a fact and it’s seeing race and not treating people different that’s at issue. With regard to the Walking Dead, it most certainly has a race problem. It’s set in Atlanta and it is the whitest show outside of Girls. There’s about 4 black people in 4 years. The zombies are mostly white. There’s 1 asian guy and most of the women are useless. Sorry, they were. I stopped after season 2 when I decided I hated everyone. Shows where no one seems to have a redeeming bit of humanity disgust me. The whole thing has a good sized streak of white privilege and the dystopic “everyone is mad, now” thing is a huge turn off. And making the white supremacist the fave character, yeah, that didn’t make me too happy. What can I say, tastes are relative.

  103. 103
    kindness says:

    I’ve tried to get into watching The Walking Dead but can’t seem to transcend my disbelief in the show. The entire premise is completely stupid. No, not the zombie part. That is the fantasy component and is OK. The part I can’t believe is how people faced with what they face act like they act. It does not compute. At all. If we faced a zombie hoard, for one thing everyone would have enough ammo to kill all the zombies. And honestly, when a group of people, even people who don’t like and respect each other face up to total anialation, I do think there would be more getting along just so as to kill all the zombies.

    But what can you expect from a liberal? So I don’t watch it.

  104. 104
    Cassidy says:

    If you want your dystopian tv fiction, I’d suggest Revolution. It isn’t the best thing, but it’s decent enough. Most of my complaints aren’t show complaints but more about JJA’s various shticks. I hate how he draws out the divulging of important information over several episodes/ seasons when in reality someone would say “motherfucker, sit down and start talking” and that’s be the end of it.

    But, it is an interesting portrayl of a post disaster society. Don’t try and make sense of the science.

  105. 105
    muddy says:

    @Chris: The only difference being that generally people want to instantly comment on your red hair, ask a lot of questions about your family etc. I don’t think people do this for black skin. I would hope not, it’s annoying enough for the hair. Maybe they think the skin speaks for itself.

  106. 106
    Randy P says:

    We can (and are) argue all day about what it means to “not see race”. Yes, if I look at a person, I see their color. Sort of. I read a lot of Walter Mosley and it has always struck me how he takes pains to describe the exact color of every character. I’m not that hyper aware of shading. I notice if someone is extremely white, but otherwise really not.

    The more important question to me is whether you let that be relevant in your interactions even in tiny ways. Do you say “you need to talk to that guy in the green shirt” or do you say “you need to talk to that black/white/spanish guy over there”?

    Do I care about Obama’s race? Really, honestly no except for the amusement I get at how it pisses off republicans who aren’t willing to say how it pisses them off. His defining characteristic as far as I’m concerned has always been that he’s the sane guy in the room. There’s a grown-up in charge. And me calms me down when he speaks.

  107. 107
    ComradeDread says:

    It’s not that you don’t notice someone’s race, a better way to express the thought is that a person’s skin color or ethnicity is no longer the primary characteristic by which you define them.

    That is, Frank is your friend, a Cowboys fan, an awesome Call of Duty team mate, and the guy who can’t play poker for the life of him, who is also black.

    This is mostly a good thing, but it can lead to some clueless behavior on occasion by us white dudes who don’t realize that Frank has dealt with a LOT of jackasses who only see a black man and all of the stereotypes that America has attached to that identity.

  108. 108
    Keith G says:

    @ruemara:

    I stopped after season 2 when I decided I hated everyone. Shows where no one seems to have a redeeming bit of humanity disgust me.

    Bing-fucking-go

    I bought the first season and loved the pilot + 1 or 2. Then I found myself yelling at my monitor, “What the fuck are you doing?” more than I wanted to.

    I still bought season two because there were a few elements that I thought were redeemable, but after 4 months, I have not finished it as I feel the writing began to consistently underwhelm. There is no character I trust. Maybe that is the goal. If so fine, I’ll go elsewhere.

    The whole thing has a good sized streak of white privilege….

    Is there a hit show on TV that could be ethnically “flipped” and still remain a hit show? If not, what would that mean?

  109. 109

    BTW can anyone explain to me why zombies are so popular, I don’t find them fascinating, at all.

  110. 110
    Cassidy says:

    Is there a hit show on TV that could be ethnically “flipped” and still remain a hit show? If not, what would that mean?

    That would be just as unrealistic as an all white ATL. It’s all about the mix. Even my suggestion, Revolution, underwhelms in it’s mix, but based on some of the flashback scenes, I’ve assumed that a lot of the post disaster rioting and social downfall involved some ethnic cleansing. There are a fair number of minorities in the show, filling several secondary and background roles, and also includes one main antagonist who is minority and has a fairly interesting backstory.

  111. 111
    Chris says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Seconded. Never got the fascination with either zombies or vampires. Buffy and especially Angel gave me a vampire show I enjoyed, but mostly for the Whedon dialogue and characters. I just don’t care about the background universes the way I do about, say Star Wars or Star Trek or even Lord of the Rings.

    Not a criticism, I know everyone has their own tastes. I’m just wondering what it is that makes other BJers drawn to these shows.

  112. 112
    Keith G says:

    @Randy P:

    The more important question to me is whether you let that be relevant in your interactions even in tiny ways.

    I have felt that for many the “I don’t see color” statement is a mis-constructed shorthand for, “I try to act so that color is not an issue in what I do.” I think many feel that that is what they strive for whether or not they actually hit the mark.

  113. 113
    Randy P says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: No idea. And I speak as somebody who loves zombie Flash games. All of them.

    Why? Because there’s something inherently funny, and fun, about them.

    What would that be? No freakin’ clue.

  114. 114
    Cassidy says:

    @Chris: I’ve always been a zombie fan. Just my preferred brand of horror. I hate ghost stories. They scare the shit out of me.

  115. 115
    muddy says:

    @Randy P: My mother was verbally fierce about how racism was wrong, but she would always indicate “the black gentleman”, but a white guy was just “the man”. To annoy her, if she just said “man” I would question her as to whether he were white, and was his behavior gentlemanly? I was told not to be silly, Dear.

    And it’s not racism to praise black people as all being able to sing and dance well, be big and strong and athletic. “Those are positive qualities, dear! How can you say I’m a racist?” arghhhh

  116. 116
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    When I say “I don’t see color” it really means “I don’t give a shit if you’re black or white.” I used to tell my troops that I only saw green. You’ll be judged not on the color of your skin, but the results of your work.

    My first platoon sergeant was a black man, and I learned a lot from that guy. I learned a lot from the white platoon sergeant of another platoon in the company, too.

    Race/ethnicity is interesting, but it shouldn’t be a determining factor. What you do as an individual is what’s important to me. There are plenty of assholes of all shades out there. Let’s concentrate on THAT, not their melanin index or how round their eyes are.

  117. 117
    Keith G says:

    @Cassidy: Whose talking about realism? Most TV is about fantasy or burlesque. Two and a Half Pigs was a hit show and was not realistic. Could that show have been an American hit with a cast of any other ethnicity?

  118. 118
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    I will say, compared to the comics, two of the main ladies are significantly stupider and more annoying in the show.

    Carol’s significantly more sympathetic in the show than in the comics. Governor significantly more creepy: more of a corporate sociopath than the crude psychopath in the comics.

  119. 119
    Redshirt says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Its a complicated subject. Two main reasons:

    1. Monster/horror stories. Same as vampires, werewolves, ghosts, etc. The fun of being scared.

    2. A commentary on society. The mass of people become zombies, and you, the plucky hero, now have open license to kill them without consequences. In fact, you need to kill them all.

    There’s a reason many gun manufactures are actively targeting the zombie demo to sell guns and ammo.

    It’s a bit disturbing, as it’s a form of “apocalypse worship”.

  120. 120
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Randy P:

    His (Obama’s) defining characteristic as far as I’m concerned has always been that he’s the sane guy in the room.

    This. Compared to Grampy McCain the veep candidate ass ogler, or Mammon worshiping asswipe Rmoney, there is no damn comparison at all.

  121. 121
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    I never understood all the Andrea hate. Sure, she made some stupid choices. But she was mostly capable and smart.

    She was about the only one with a wider agenda than survival of either the immediate clique or one’s immediate power. The larger the group, the higher the chance of survival and rebuilding. A smaller group is less capable of defending itself or rebuilding.

    Frex, if the Governor hadn’t wasted the National Guardsmen, he’d have easily been able to take out Rick’s group at the prison. The Governor was your typical tactically smart but strategically stupid sociopathic dictator.

  122. 122
    Cassidy says:

    @Keith G: Interesting “go to” for a counterpoint. If you have to dig deep into the portolet to get two two and half men, that isn’t much of a point. lol

    That being said, most modern quality programming has a certain level of realism going for it and is demanded by the audience. Even in sci fi, fantasy, and horror stories, we the audience still expect the characters to act a certain way to at least give the fantastical a real foundation. So, while most people overlook the lack of minorities in things like the WD or Revolution or other popular series, if it was to be reversed and have a very brown cast, the audience wouldn’t buy it. It would become a “black” show and people would be wondering if Martin Lawrence or Tyler Perry is starring.

  123. 123
    MBunge says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger: “Governor significantly more creepy: more of a corporate sociopath than the crude psychopath in the comics.”

    The Governor is the one thing the show has done that is clearly better than the comics. The character has had these three levels to him. On the surface, there’s the smiling politician who tells people what they want to hear. Beneath that is the guy who just wants power and control and to be a big shot. Then underneath that is just black, burn-it-all-down nihilism. When Penny got killed,the middle-level of rational evil started to break down and that eventually led to the corruption of the surface facade.

    Mike

  124. 124
    Cassidy says:

    @Redshirt:

    It’s a bit disturbing, as it’s a form of “apocalypse worship”.

    I don’t think that’s remotely accurate.

    For one, people like being scared. Two, people like to belive they’ll be “tough” enough to survive a disaster. It has nothing to do with apocalypse worship; it’s an ego fantasy. Groups of friends sit around drinking and talking about their ZA survival plans because it’s fun (to them) and helps establish amongst the social hierarchy who’s going to be the man with the plan when shit goes down and who’s going to be the adored hero leading everyone to salvation with women throwing themselves into bed with him.

    You’ll notice this is a guy thing. I have yet to encounter a woman who plays the ZA game. I realize that’s anecdotal, but even amongst my gamer friends that seems to be an almost exclusively male thing. Secondly, everyone assumes they’ll survive. No one stops and says “nope, not this guy. I’ll probably catch the virus and I’m a goner.”. Or no one thinks about that scen in The Road where the militia travels around rendering people down to food. It’a power and sex fantasy, nothing more significant than sweaty teenagers checking out porn.

  125. 125
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    BTW can anyone explain to me why zombies are so popular, I don’t find them fascinating, at all.

    Bad guys who can kill or be killed without question. (I mean, even orcs and vampires have their champions these days.)

    Disintegration of society post-apocalypse creates freedom of scenarios. Enables exploration of small-group dynamics (which TV can do well) without having the question of “where’s the state/government/wider society in this problem” (which TV does not do well).

    Unlike fantasy or sci-fi, you can do a zombie show or movie using minimal special effects, albeit needing good makeup crew. AMC couldn’t do a sci-fi series on the budget they’re using, and fantasy doesn’t do well on TV.

  126. 126
    MBunge says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger: “The Governor was your typical tactically smart but strategically stupid sociopathic dictator.”

    With the 2nd and 3rd seasons, the writers are clearly keying in on the fact that the utter ruthlessness of The Governor or Shane can help you survive from moment-to-moment but can’t ever build anything to get you beyond the crisis.

    Mike

  127. 127
    Keith G says:

    @Cassidy:

    If you have to dig deep into the portolet….

    Actually, as I was considering what to type, my first thoughts were “How I Met Your Mother” and “Big Bang Theory” both of which could have a flipped cast of any ethnicity and be very realistic and probably never picked up.

  128. 128
    Betty Cracker says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I’m not sure why zombies are fascinating. Maybe the idea that things you thought were dead can come back and menace/kill you as a metaphor for unresolved issues/people in life? I dunno.

    Regarding the racial aspects of TWD, I just don’t see it as pervasive and offensive as some folks, but then I am white, so maybe it’s just flying over my head. It wouldn’t be the first time.

  129. 129
    Cassidy says:

    @Keith G: That’s true, but again they’d be “black” shows. Somewhat successful groups of non-white people isn’t considered reality by most of America. Hell, look at Mike and Molly. I’ve never seen a whole episode as I don’t care much for sitcoms, but it seemed funny enough in that sitcom way. That show has been given hell from the beginning because the two white characters aren’t thin enough.

  130. 130
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Cassidy: My teenage daughter and I endlessly discuss ZA plans. My husband rolls his eyes at us, so we’ll clearly have to save his ass come the ZA.

  131. 131
    Journalmalist says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    It looks at “everlasting life” — a most Christian ideal –from another angle. Mainly as a curse rather than as salvation. Of course the zombiest Christian of them all was Jesus and, like contemporary zombies, he rose from the dead and now wants your brains.

    In the case of Walking Dead, the focus is less on the zombies than on what people will do to survive. Cooperate? Trust no one? The group(s) revert to the states of pre-civilized clans, and so stereotypes from an unenlightened era surface (which makes Salon articles about THE PATRIARCHY particularly idiotic).

  132. 132
    ruemara says:

    @Keith G: A group of smart browns who rarely interact with the less brown? Nah, to unrealistic. Zombies are more believable.

  133. 133
    Judybird says:

    Many years ago, my husband, who ran a very small business, hired a new office manager. I kept hearing wonderful things about Ginny – smart, efficicient, hard-working, etc., he was deighted with her work and pleased that she helped keep him organized. When I finally met her after about 6 weeks, I saw that she was African-American. I asked him that evening why he hadn’t mentioned that – his reply was “oh, I just didn’t think that was important.” He wasn’t “color-blind”, whatever that means, but her race had nothing to do with her job.

  134. 134
    Cassidy says:

    @Betty Cracker: I don’t think there was any overt racism, but I think the writers didn’t put a lot of thought into it.

  135. 135
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    The Governor is the one thing the show has done that is clearly better than the comics

    Let’s hope they also don’t do the stupid Carl-gets-shot-in-the-head bit that’s in the comics. Carl gets half his head shot off and survives despite minimal health care availability? Really?

    I thought Andrea was *better* in the TV show than in the comics – better character arc. Also, the show had Merle and Daryl, and damn those are two great characters from a income/class demographic that ain’t exactly well represented on TV. Did anyone see Merle’s ambush coming?

  136. 136
    Redshirt says:

    @Cassidy: I’m not sure how you’re disagreeing with me at all. As I said, first and foremost it’s the appeal of all horror shows – the fun of being scared. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but a generally popular genre.

    But zombies are different than all the other monsters due to the societal implication. There’s a strong revenge-fantasy implicit in any ZA story, as in “Finally! The BS has cleared and it’s Me (or Us) v. Them.” In the zombie stories, anyone can be a zombie of course. But in the subtext, these are the groups of “Others”. Whatever “Other” you want to choose, you finally have license to kill them not only without consequence, but you’ll be a hero for doing so.

  137. 137
    Cassidy says:

    @Betty Cracker: I don’t doubt that. I was just stating anecdotally that amongst my TT gamer friends, even the female ones role their eyes at the mention of ZA. It could be because they take care of the kids and think their husband/ SO is full of shit with his plans. The ZA fantasy always seems to be a male fantasy to me, mot much different than when Libertarians and Anarchists advocate for the elimination of gov’t. They don’t think about the realities as they’re lost in the fantasy.

    It’s a running joke in my family to.

  138. 138
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    the writers are clearly keying in on the fact that the utter ruthlessness of The Governor or Shane can help you survive from moment-to-moment but can’t ever build anything to get you beyond the crisis.

    At the same time, the Governor might have been taken in by his own BS. Shooting National Guardsmen but saving the ashamatics and arthritic? (Scratches head)

  139. 139
    MBunge says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger: “Carl gets half his head shot off and survives despite minimal health care availability?”

    It’s been mostly good that Kirkman hasn’t tried to turn the comic into an RPG manual for how ZA world would actually work, but it has led to some pretty glaring oversights. Like how people would start dying from a lot of simple health problems, let alone gaping head wounds, without modern medical care.

    Mike

  140. 140
    Cassidy says:

    @Redshirt: I guess I didn’t get the context of “apocalypse worship”. That sounds to me like someone hoping deep down for the end of the world i.e. fundamentalist christians. I don’t think that’s an element. I think most people realize that if a ZA happens, we’re probably going to die, possibly as food, or be so traumatized from surviving that we’d die soon anyway.

  141. 141
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    The ZA fantasy always seems to be a male fantasy to me, mot much different than when Libertarians and Anarchists advocate for the elimination of gov’t. They don’t think about the realities as they’re lost in the fantasy.

    The Zombie Apocalypse fantasy I always thought as an OK-for-liberals-and-apoliticals to have the survivalist gubmint-ending-watcha-do fantasies that wingnuts have (and which are causing your local WalMart to sell out of ammunition).

    As for me, I’m toast in the ZA, as are most people. People don’t understand how fast a city would starve in the absence of regular food deliveries.

  142. 142
    Journalmalist says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger: If what you say is true, there’d be plenty to eat. Plenty of toast. :)

  143. 143
    Redshirt says:

    @Cassidy: Oh, I got ya. Maybe it’s just the semantics. But having long discussions about the ZA implies a certain longing for it. I get it, there’s some fun in it, but there’s a nihilistic undertone to it all. Same for any apocalyptic storyline, be it zombie, robot, Jesus, or virus. It’s a popular genre for vaguely disturbing reasons.

  144. 144
    maurinsky says:

    @Cassidy:
    It’s not just a guy thing. I sing in a women’s a cappella group and we frequently discuss and update our zombie apocalypse plans.

  145. 145
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Randy P:

    The more important question to me is whether you let that be relevant in your interactions even in tiny ways. Do you say “you need to talk to that guy in the green shirt” or do you say “you need to talk to that black/white/spanish guy over there”?

    Depends. Am I looking at him, or is he in another room? If I’m looking at him, is the shirt truly green, or will I end up in an argument later over whether the shirt was green or blue? If he’s in another room, have I seen him that day to even know he’s wearing a green shirt? Or, having seen him, do I remember what he’s wearing? (I usually don’t notice clothes.)

    This goes back to ethnicity being as relevant as hair color, to me. I’m most likely to pick out whatever attribute I think will be most easily identified from a distance. If he’s the only black guy in a white crowd, then yeah, I’ll probably say that. I still haven’t internalized the way that sets up expectations for far too many people. In the moment, I’m just thinking about minimizing confusion.

  146. 146
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    Or no one thinks about that scen in The Road where the militia travels around rendering people down to food.

    Did anyone else find “The Road” as a novel intensely disappointing? I felt it was critically praised because it was written by a non-genre ‘literary’ novelist by people unfamiliar with the post-apocalyptic genre, but as a post-apocalyptic novel it was a real disappointment and lacked imagination or even a well thought out food web (i.e. when you’re eating each other, you’re pretty close to extinction).

    Compared to the ideas in, say, Peter Dickinson’s ‘The Changes’ or even Brin’s ‘The Postman’, “Day of the Triffids’, ‘Z for Zachariah’ or ‘Riddley Walker’ or ‘The Canticles of Liebowitz’, the Road just seemed…thin. But I felt that the literary critics raved about it ‘cos it was a new idea to them.

  147. 147
    maurinsky says:

    I never thought about the appeal of zombies as being fed by the desire to have to kill something. I always think it’s just the saddest thing, to be a mindless automaton, and for me it’s more about surviving and avoiding that than getting to kill them.

  148. 148
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Emma:

    The only intelligent thing to do is to notice, accept, don’t assume anything and don’t be a jerk.

    That’s a really good strategy for most things.

  149. 149
    Cassidy says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger: I liked that no one was important or that there was no grand plan. It still drives me apeshit not to what brought the end, but that’s just me, and I think that was a pretty good move on the author. I think it’s strongest points is that it doesn’t shy away from hiding just how dirty and nasty it is. Even in the WD, everyone looks like they’ve only been inconvenienced by not having running water, like they’ve only been camping for a week. But The Road was grimy and that scene will always stay with me re: the brutal efficiency of rendering a person down to food. As a sci-fi/ fantasy fan it came across as underwhelming at first, but once I really got into it, I enjoyed it’s subtleties.

  150. 150
    Redshirt says:

    Consider a Venn Diagram of ZA fans and Preppers. I bet there’s a lot of overlap.

  151. 151
    Cassidy says:

    @Redshirt: Preppers…gotta love people who are willing to do all the work for you. Have I tild you my ZA plans? ;)

  152. 152
    Redshirt says:

    @Cassidy: LOL. I know it! Step one – Find a Prepper.
    Step two – take all his stuff.

  153. 153
    Cassidy says:

    @Redshirt: Please show more of them on TV National Geographic. That’s so not irresponsible to identify people who have sunk thousands of dollars into valuable guns, ammo, food and water.

  154. 154
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Sly:

    Yes, because that race war can be and in many ways is an element in that sowing of strife.

    I will just outsource my comment to Mr.Zimmerman.

  155. 155
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Cassidy:

    You’ll notice this is a guy thing. I have yet to encounter a woman who plays the ZA game. I realize that’s anecdotal, but even amongst my gamer friends that seems to be an almost exclusively male thing.

    A Floridian friend of mine has three lists: the tornado list, things she’ll need during a 3-7 day breakdown in services; the hurricane list, things needed for a 2-3 week breakdown; the zombie apocalypse list, things needed for a 4-8 week breakdown. She figures the better she’s prepared for the ZA, the better off she’ll be after a superstorm or a series of hurricanes.

    Secondly, everyone assumes they’ll survive. No one stops and says “nope, not this guy. I’ll probably catch the virus and I’m a goner.”.

    I think it’s more that there’s no point in planning for being a fatality.

  156. 156
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    I will just outsource my comment to Mr.Zimmerman.

    Oy. Until I checked the link, I thought you meant George.

  157. 157
    no absolutes says:

    Yeah that colorblind thing is just miseducation and willful ignorance. Color blindness is a privilege, or at the least it buttresses privilege. If there’s a zombie apocalypse and I still have to be worried about being mowed down by white supremacists, you bet I’d say something about it.

  158. 158
    Mike E says:

    @White Trash Liberal: Nice spoiler, thanks.

  159. 159
    Splitting Image says:

    One thing that I’ve often wondered is how many of the people who Do Not Notice Race also believe that they have flawless gaydar and can spot a homosexual at 100 paces.

    About zombies, I know a fair number of women who are into the genre, but they tend to love doing the zombie makeup and going out on Zombie Walks. I’m not sure I know any Zombie Apocalypse preppers except maybe for a few pagans I know who are into things like stone-age living, do it yourself projects, preparing for the effects of climate change, and the like. Occasionally, one of them will make a joke about the coming ZA, but it isn’t the main motivation for what they do.

  160. 160
    gwangung says:

    I find it VERY interesting that most of the discussion is along white/black lines. Very little has been said about Steve Yeun.

    That’s not how the show is seen on Asian American sites. Yeun’s character is considered a very Big Thing there.

  161. 161
    Betty Cracker says:

    @gwangung: Can you elaborate? Do most people on the sites think it’s great that an Asian American character has such a central role on a hit show, or do they think it sucks that he’s a white dude’s “subordinate” in the group or what?

  162. 162
    Bobby Thomson says:

    Compared to what TV looked like when The Cosby Show first came on the air, I think it’s a very big thing that it isn’t considered a very big thing that Psych focuses on the longtime friendship between a white dude and a black guy.

    But that’s a pretty low hurdle. And I’m sure Gus does fall into the Colin Powell “until you were accused of lying, I had no idea you were black” bucket for a lot of folks.

    ETA: And of course, I’m always forgetting Sean’s Mexican heritage, but that’s another topic altogether.

  163. 163
    gocart mozart says:

    Oprah and Colin Powell are two people who I didn’t realize were African American until they themselves, or somebody else mentioned.

    Oprah’s black! When did this happen and why didn’t anyone tell me?

    I know the president is black but that’s only because he lives in public housing and plays basketball.

  164. 164
    Atticus Dogsbody says:

    After going to see The Color Purple I mentioned to my friend how much I liked the nice young blond actress, Oprah. You wouldn’t believe how stunned I was to find out from my friend that Oprah is black.

    I still don’t know what the movie was about.

  165. 165
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    I’m not sure I know any Zombie Apocalypse preppers except maybe for a few pagans I know who are into things like stone-age living, do it yourself projects, preparing for the effects of climate change, and the like.

    There’s a fair argument for spending a few percent of your income to be prepped for some Major Bad Shit going down (c.f. Katrina, Sandy, a major earthquake in CA or the Midwest), but for the End of Civilization, less so.

  166. 166
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Atticus Dogsbody: LOL! Don’t you have a chifferobe to bust up or something? :)

  167. 167
    Cassidy says:

    I get it. I mention ZA planning seems to be mostly a guy thing and everyone has their token anecdote of a woman who does it. I said beforehand my thing was anecdote. I know it’s not an exclusively make thing and chicks are fully capable of being preppers and shooting zombies in the face. I still say most of you ZA stories fall under the area of male sex and power fantasies.

  168. 168
    Chris says:

    @Redshirt:

    But zombies are different than all the other monsters due to the societal implication. There’s a strong revenge-fantasy implicit in any ZA story, as in “Finally! The BS has cleared and it’s Me (or Us) v. Them.” In the zombie stories, anyone can be a zombie of course. But in the subtext, these are the groups of “Others”. Whatever “Other” you want to choose, you finally have license to kill them not only without consequence, but you’ll be a hero for doing so.

    I don’t think that’s a zombie thing, I think that applies to most post-apocalyptic fiction. Alien invasions. Communist takeovers. The revolt of the machines. Nuclear wars, global warming or other disasters resulting in Judge Dredd type wastelands.

    Oddly enough, the one concept I don’t see much in that kind of genre is “the rise of a new species.” Planet of the Apes could have been fertile ground for that kind of eliminationist fantasy. Instead, both the book and the movies have been all about social commentary, showing the apes as being basically just like humans instead of turning them into another zombie/alien/communist Hostile Horde We Can Totally Massacre And Not Feel Bad.

  169. 169
    WereBear says:

    @Bobby Thomson: that’s one of the reasons I love that show; they are two suburban dudes, basically.

    The first season of Dead, is the only one I’ve watched; the second one is waiting for a marathon moment to pop up, which it hasn’t yet. And I was discouraged by Darabont’s departure.

    But I see TV as the Boy Toy scenario. Girls will play with toys for boys, and the opposite is not true. So tv will continue to have a white overlay.

  170. 170
    different-church-lady says:

    How do people live based on seeing nothing but classes of people opportunities to present didactic kant about white privilege?

    I don’t know if that really qualifies as “fixing it for him”, but it does make a comment, doesn’t it.

  171. 171
    AxelFoley says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    BTW can anyone explain to me why zombies are so popular, I don’t find them fascinating, at all.

    Everything old is new again. It’s like 3D. When it was the rage a little while back, I was like, “Why the hell is everyone acting like a movie format that’s been around since the 1950’s is some hot new shit?”

  172. 172
    gwangung says:

    @Betty Cracker: Well, given that East West Players, the number one Asian American theatre in the country, is giving him a breakthrough award at their annual dinner, that should tell you something.

    Some things that are considered good is that he is a nuanced and multidimensional character. His ethnicity is a part of him and doesn’t define him. And he has the full range of human emotions, including (and this is very important) love and sexual desire. (you can count on one hand how many Asian American characters get to have a love interest on TV).

  173. 173
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Why can’t people acknowledge race but not ascribe any importance to it? Makes more sense than saying something stupid like “I didn’t notice that Oprah was Black until someone told me”. Unless you’re blind, you noticed that she was Black when you first saw her.

  174. 174
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    @Cassidy:

    But The Road was grimy and that scene will always stay with me re: the brutal efficiency of rendering a person down to food. As a sci-fi/ fantasy fan it came across as underwhelming at first, but once I really got into it, I enjoyed it’s subtleties.

    I guess the problem I had with it was the inconsistency of the world. If we’re getting to the end of trophic road with reversion to cannibalism, then you’re a few months from general extinction just because of your standard mammalian predator:prey ratios in a food web. Yet the son gets saved by a family rather than being put on the barbecue.

    Similarly, if you’ve a post-apocalyptic group of cannibals, why have the basement with the humans-as-a-larder, when you’d be a risk of the captives either dying and spoiling, or escaping, plus the captives are wasting away from starvation? Why not smoke the meat, in that case?

    Leaving the cause of the collapse of civilization in “The Road” vague was effective for the atmosphere of menace and mystery, but left the world inconsistent and the plot liable for Major Logic Holes. McCarthy didn’t have to spell out the reason to us as the reader, but I felt the cause wasn’t clear in his mind either.

    The Hunger Games had the same problem – awesome main character, decent plot, but pretty bad world-building.

  175. 175
    Betty Cracker says:

    @gwangung: Fascinating. I never noticed that Asian American characters don’t generally get to have a love interest on TV, but now that you mention it, I can’t think of many examples.

  176. 176
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Wow, so that’s why the biggest asshole at work is a ginormous fan! It was weird to me (not knowing, see) that he would be into something so mainstream in between the barbie-for-men gun accessory talk and the hee-haw-funneh rape jokes.

  177. 177
    Alexander says:

    I’m coming to this way too late, but what the heck, I’ll say something.

    It’s obviously ridiculous when people claim not to notice race/ethnicity/whatever. But here’s what I think they’re trying (ineptly) to say: They see certain non-white people (in this case Oprah and Powell) in the same way that they see most white people. That is, they don’t see them as other.

    The mistake they make is in running together seeing-as-non-white and seeing-as-other. They don’t recognize the distinction between these two things. But obviously, there is a difference. And in fact, to think that seeing-as-non-white is just the same thing as seeing-as-other is implicitly to think that being non-white is the same thing as being other. In other words, it is to be racist.

    That such people think that they should get some brownie points for not being racist is crazy, given that it only serves to highlight the fact that anyone who seems non-white to them will thereby seem other. But there you go.

  178. 178
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Genine: Well said.

  179. 179
    Alexander says:

    @Genine, Another Halocene Human: Looking back, I was just saying (in a less clear and more pretentious way) pretty much what Genine said in her first paragraph. Oh well!

  180. 180
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Randy P: Maybe, maybe not. I ride public transportation a lot and after any given ride I couldn’t tell you if the car I had been riding was mostly-black, mostly-white, or mixed. Unless I make a point of looking out of curiosity. Same thing in ethnic restaurants, except that there I more often do a conscious survey because percent of non-gringos is an important quality measure for me.

    But this is an expression of privilege, that you don’t experience CNS arousal when you are in the minority. Why would you? I think a black male in America would tend to have a different experience. (Just like females tend to be well aware of when they’re locked in close quarters with males in this country, due to Schroedinger’s rapist.)

    Which isn’t to say we can’t all have a hardy laff when stoopid authoritarian white pukes start whining about WMATA (Washington Metro system) having too many scary, jeering, Black teenagers on it.

    Btw, sign of authoritarian mindset: always thinks people laughing are laughing at her.

  181. 181
    gwangung says:

    Fascinating. I never noticed that Asian American characters don’t generally get to have a love interest on TV, but now that you mention it, I can’t think of many examples.

    Asian American males feel it KEENLY.

    Ahem.

  182. 182
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Slaughter: I was very aware he was Black and that he was half-Black (whatever that means) and this had a lot of white liberals in a tizzy (including my late Irish-American grandmother) for whom I guess this gave them some sort of marker of whiteness (the dominant paradigm, unquestioned kind (note the “decent” midwestern grandparents, where “decent” is a dog-whistle for “white”, much less focus on the race-traitor DFH mom, except for those liberals who were BAMF DFH ladies and identified with her directly instead of judging the shit out of her)) and badly-needed identification. Like, a bunch of idiots had a sad when it came out that Kerry was not, in fact, Irish, but it was amazing the intensity of the Barack-is-Irish thing (gotta say, that man played that shit like Perlman on a Strad, good for him).

    But I really, really hoped it wouldn’t matter as much as it did. Of course, two days later, went to the Publix on the wrong side of town (the butthurt white supremacist side of town, as it turns out) and saw home-made NoBama stickers. So, like, how do you hate a president who hasn’t been inaugurated yet–oh.

  183. 183
    Another Halocene Human says:

    You know, on the theme of Barack (who has been such a pleasant surprise on women’s issues; confession time: I kinda voted for the guy ‘cuz I liked his book, which spent a lot of time on how daddy’s absence make Junior a confused young man, and how he struggles to come to terms with his father’s legacy, not so much time on Mommy, but guess what, obviously he loved her fiercely), why is it that he can’t show the same partisanship towards the Black community (or even Black immigrants, or just East African immigrants) the way his senate spiritual advisor Ted Kennedy did towards his tribe? Kennedy got some legislation through to make it easy for Irish to pop over here on staycations (not like they weren’t doing it before, but they had to work under the table and fear getting caught and barred from the US for life). Nobody called him a horrible person for that.

    Also, too, find it all too convenient that the white establishment touted self-interested hollow man Jesse Jackson as the “voice of the Black community” for years, reinforcing a stock in trade of ‘if he didn’t exist we’d have to invent him’ political stereotypes. It’s much to convenient to dismiss a substanceless, grasping, attention-whore like Jesse than face the substantial issues in 1980s urban America, most of which were deeply racial in nature. It allowed white America to paper over the division between out-and-out racist and the comfortable-with-no-intention-of-being-afflicted-by-moralizers in their shared revulsion for someone so easy to dismiss.

    Why face the true moral horror of the carnage and human waste of the racialized, ghettoized, and brutalized inner city? It’s too awful to be true, therefore it isn’t true, therefore that guy on tv talking about it is a liar trying to grift us.

  184. 184
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Imagine if Perez Hilton were considered the voice of the gay community.

    Note: some wingers actually do.

  185. 185
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @gwangung: I had a long post about how Sulu got cock-blocked on Star Trek, among other topics, but FYWP ate it.

    It affects Asian males more than Asian females but I did see some pretty horrific stuff involving East Asian females on tv in the 80s. Lotta East Asians in my particular neighborhood so even at that young age I was like wtf is this?

  186. 186
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q): I can’t do braids because my hair is too thin, but seriously, the people who politicize hair (whether it’s “cut your hair, young man” or the people who assume Black people with certain hairstyles must smoke weed or espouse radical politics) have always struck me as first rate nincompoops.

    Hm, for some reason this reminds me of the 1950s run on Pogo where the owl is interrogating Pogo about why he is shivering, fear or cold. Why is your hair that way, fashion choice or political statement? Maybe it’s laziness? Maybe I don’t care that much about my appearance? Convenience? I like how it looks this way? My niece braids hair and I want to help a sister out? I mean, why is this your business?!

  187. 187
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: BTW can anyone explain to me why zombies are so popular, I don’t find them fascinating, at all.

    I’m afraid of the answer.

  188. 188
    Paula says:

    Man, that article is on point. I caught the marathon this weekend and I was also on the “Black man death watch”.

    The question that I’m always asking about genre stuff is how much of that conservatism is in the writing of a given show and how much of it is in genre forms that are expressions of social norms and stereotypes. (Women and vampires/werewolves, zombies and the Other.)

    Michonne’s something else, though. The “stoic woman warrior” trope comes through a lot stronger than “emasculating black woman”, although it’s definitely annoying that she (like everyone else) has to capitulate to Rick at the end.

  189. 189
    gwangung says:

    @Another Halocene Human: Well, neither actors or actresses got anything good until the last few years. There were a lot of jokes about who was the Designated Asian Guest Star for each particular season.

    Also….

    Also, too, find it all too convenient that the white establishment touted self-interested hollow man Jesse Jackson as the “voice of the Black community” for years, reinforcing a stock in trade of ‘if he didn’t exist we’d have to invent him’ political stereotypes. It’s much to convenient to dismiss a substanceless, grasping, attention-whore like Jesse than face the substantial issues in 1980s urban America, most of which were deeply racial in nature. It allowed white America to paper over the division between out-and-out racist and the comfortable-with-no-intention-of-being-afflicted-by-moralizers in their shared revulsion for someone so easy to dismiss.

    is eminently stealable….

  190. 190
    Mike says:

    I’ve never forgiven Federico for having mostly Italians act in his films.

  191. 191
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    BTW can anyone explain to me why zombies are so popular, I don’t find them fascinating, at all.

    It’s yer lucky day. I asked my 12 year old for you.

    He asked me if I wanted the long answer or the short answer. I told him I wanted the long answer. He launched into an explanation that was, indeed, long but made absolutely no sense.

    I asked him for the short answer and he said “Zombies, they eat brains, that’s cool.” I said, “They got to you didn’t they?”

    I guess that wasn’t a lot of help. Good luck on your research.

  192. 192
    ricky says:

    You think this is bad? Take a look at the racial and gender politics on Wagon Train and it will go a long way to explaining why Eastwood did not cast a black woman as Hilary Swank’s trainer.

  193. 193
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    Michonne’s something else, though. The “stoic woman warrior” trope comes through a lot stronger than “emasculating black woman”, although it’s definitely annoying that she (like everyone else) has to capitulate to Rick at the end.

    [big spoilers]

    On the flipside, there was Rick’s encounter with Morgan, where Morgan rips Rick a new one for not living up to his word and doesn’t go with Rick to the prison, but carries on with his I-am-Legend personal agenda. That was a subversion of the expected outcome, which is Heroic White Guy Rescues Beleaguered Black Person In Violent Environment And Moves Them To Suburban Safety. Also, Morgan was, by far, the most inventive Zombie killa yet. Rats as bait causing zombies to self-impale? If there was a Nobel prize for advances in the Science of Zombie-killing, Morgan would get it.

    Also, if you don’t think Newbury is a massive piss-take on suburban/exurban obliviousness and insularity, you’re not getting it.

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