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Last week, I was clicking through a few unexplored links in the sprawling organic matrix that is RaceFail09, and ran across a particularly broadly useful one I had missed back in January: New Criticism vs. Postmodernism with a Side of Privilege. Longish, but well worth the time for shining a flashlight at a piece of why the discussion so often seems to be happening in different languages that just seem to be the same one. (I suspect I'll be referring back to it when I finally post some of the thinkier stuff I've been mulling about Dollhouse, too.)

I thought of it again when reading a post on the Steppenwolf blog today, which asks, and takes a stab at answering, the extremely large question Is Colorblindness Possible? It reminded me that I've been familiar with and accustomed to these discussions going on in theatre for much longer than in fandom -- back to the much-publicized Miss Saigon controversy -- featuring many of the same thoughts, of both the thinky and the headdesky variety. Which of course is pointed up by the Shakespeare examples in marydell's post.

I think that's why it's surprised me when people have said "This is a discussion we need to be having in fandom," because in my head it's one we've been having all along. Except, in fandom-at-large, we haven't so much, and I never really noticed.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 20th, 2009 05:03 pm (UTC)
I absolutely adore when you make thinky-posts about stuff. Sure they take time and sometimes there just *isn't* any, but whenever you have them, I *adore* them and I don't think I tell you that nearly often enough.

I've stayed out of the RaceFail stuff, as I don't fanfic or even really hang much in fan forums, thus... it's not on my radar. (I also strongly suspect that I TotallyFail as I was raised by RACISTBIGOTTED people in a HORRIBLYRACIST town and they've exerted tons of influence on me, despite my efforts to fight it)

Dollhouse was... interesting. I should probably get thinky on it, but I likely won't. Looking forward to your thinkier stuff whenever you get round...)

May. 20th, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC)
Awwwww, thanks! I have a lot of fun with the thinky, and it's always glad to know I'm not the only one.

I also strongly suspect that I TotallyFail as I was raised by RACISTBIGOTTED people in a HORRIBLYRACIST town and they've exerted tons of influence on me, despite my efforts to fight it

I'm about 99.8% just reading, as I suspect is true of a LOT of people.

I recommend checking out the chunk of the discussion that's about (institutionalized) racism =/= (individual) bigotry, and... well, it's huge and sprawling. This is a pretty good place to start.
May. 22nd, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
Lately I've been pondering a corrolary (sp?) to the colorblind-casting question. When Steppenwolf did "Harriet Jacobs" a while back, all of the characters--slaves, former slaves, and slaveowners--were played by black actors. I was surprised by this choice, but as the show progressed I found it remarkably effective. By removing the most glaring "us" vs. "them" demarcation, they forced the audience to observe invidual people rather than representatives of a larger group. A patron of Babes With Blades' all-female "Macbeth" had a similar reaction to the removal of gender demarcations. Is it fair, then, to say that preventing us from categorizing characters can sometimes allow us to humanize them? Can it remove a distraction and allow us to engage with them on a more personal basis? Conversely, can non-traditional/colorblind casting sometimes undermine its own egalitarian intentions by calling attention to race or gender, especially when such casting decisions are publicized as a selling point? Does it inherently invite the audience to read intentions into the production? How do we identify the scripts for which non-traditional casting is an asset vs. a distraction?
May. 22nd, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
Corollary. < /spellinggeek >

And excellent questions, the answer to all but the last of which "Depends." *wry g*

The last one is the most interesting, I think, although I still think it's going to be potentially both for any given production.
May. 22nd, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you, spelling geek. I put a slightly-tweaked version of this up on the Steppenwolf blog as well, after making that correction. :-) Hopefully I haven't just shot myself in the professional foot or anything.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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