March 8th, 2014


on Jared Leto and the blackface thing

I've been thinking about something I've seen come up a few places in the wake of the Oscars: that much as we see blackface as a rather ugly form of racism, it's deeply immoral to cast, let alone honor, a cis-male actor playing a transgender character. For those not active in LGBT issues or otherwise familiar with the term, the way I understand it, a cis-gendered person is someone who currently identifies as the same gender they were assigned at birth. Usually, it's just someone who's not transgendered.

Basically, Jared Leto won an Oscar for his role playing a transgendered character in Dallas Buyers Club. I haven't seen the movie or read the book myself. I'm not sure I've seen anything with Jared Leto in it, certainly nothing I could place as his work. I really have no stake in whether this particular movie is praised or criticized, and I certainly don't want to defend it against something I suspect, at some level at least, is a valid point. I mean, actors do play characters with roles very different from their RL selves. Irene Bedard, one of my favorite Native American actresses (she's Inuit, if I recall) has played characters from not only a wide variety of Native American peoples but also quite a few Hispanic roles. More personally, I've played a variety of roles in school productions - men, women, tree nymphs, whatever was needed. Being transgendered seems a little different, though. I mean, it's a fairly unique experience I'm not sure people who haven't transitioned can fully relate to.

Still, the blackface connection really bothers me because it seems to skim over why blackface is so objectionable. It's not just that you had a white person playing a black character. Blackface was about a white person playing a farce of a black character, building on some really racist ideas that black people were always happy, always singing and dancing around and generally not having the emotional maturity of white characters.

If you want a parallel, one example that springs to mind is John Travolta's character, Edna Turnblad, in the 2007 remake of Hairspray. You had a cis-male wearing a fat suit and fake breasts, parading around as a woman but as a really bad parody of a transgendered woman. She's not actually described as transgendered (she's just a really masculine woman character), and when I saw the movie I found myself thinking a lot of people might make that connection. Not all of them in a good way. And you may can think of other examples where a certain character is put out there as a walking stereotype of some particular group. The Jack character on "Will & Grace" comes to mind for homosexuality, to give another example. Rocky in Rocky Horror Picture Show is probably an even better example for what we might call trans-face. But you get the point. Blackface wasn't just a problem because it was a white man playing the parrt.

Maybe I'm more bothered by this than a lot of people because I'm Southern. I don't know. I do seem a bit sensitive to these subtle points. And I'm not blind to why people would be bothered by the Jared Leto thing, really. But if the Dallas Buyer's Club is a problem, it's not because it's doing what blackface did back in the day (and, sadly, today). That doesn't make the Jared Leto thing okay; I guess I'm just upset over forgetting there were other things going into why blackface is so wrong.

And yes, I really am a big enough of a geek that that bothered me enough to write out 600 words on this on a Friday night. Don't pretend like that's a surprise. :-)

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wallet woes

Right, so yesterday I kicked my wallet off the bed. Or something; I remember with 100% certainty I used it to update my Spotify payment information yesterday and am 100% sure it wasn't under the pillow where I'd tucked it away afterwards for safekeeping because I couldn't get at my back pocket. Last night I found a brown wallet stuck between the rail and the footboard, and assumed it was the brown wallet I'd picked up a while back, the men's bifold the storeowner didn't want to sell to me because I lack the phenotypical characteristics he apparently associated with possessing the Y chromosome and that touched off a truly awful day where everything seemed to go wrong.

Only it turns out it's not that brown wallet, but the first one I lost a while back. I knew it was round here somewhere. This is a... well, a marginally good thing. Current lost wallet had about $50 cash in it, a Metro card with another $25 on it, and of course a functional debit card. Found wallet has about $4 cash but all the cards I'd acquired and hadn't gotten around to replacing. I think it actually has my official state ID, which would be a major hassle avoided. I know it has my active Fordham ID which means I no longer have to sweet-talk guard to get onto campus. The one I just reported lost, but I may see if I can de-deactivate it. If I can't... well, it's the same design as this year's card. I doubt I'll even get stopped. It's not like I have to swipe it unless I'm using it at a computer, and I'm disinclined to give my school the fee to have it replaced, just because I'm feeling ornery.

So this is actually a good thing. It would be a significantly better thing if I'd worked out it was the old wallet before running to the supermarket right before closing. Meaning I ran into the woman who pressures me for money sometimes and to a student + their parent, got all the food I needed including biscuits for tea, waited in line, and... no functioning debit card. Holding people up. Having to traipse up those stairs, sans biscuits or ground beef or, perhaps most importantly, chocolate. (Another periodic benefit of lacking a Y chromosome is sometimes you have an almost physiological need for processed cocoa beans, aside from other thoroughly-unpleasant reminders of your continued fertility.) All because I was such an Anderson, I couldn't work out the difference between one brown leather wallet and another.

This is the point when I start letting the profanity fly.

What this means in practical terms is that I have truly crappy food and not much else on hand. Frozen stuff, canned processed food that I can just dump in a dish and heat up. It's bad for you in the long run but better than letting your bloodsugar crash when you quite literally can't force yourself to make anything better for you or more involved. There's a reason I'm in psychotherapy, you know. And it's only for a day. Absolute worst case scenario, I don't find the wallet, and come Monday morning I can go to the bank and pick up a new card. I have a decent amount of that. Also some of those peanut butter cracker stuff, two small bags of popcorn, maybe a cup of yogurt or two left. No protein, though, and very little fruit or vegetables. I'm not going to starve in the next thirty-six hours, but as stressed I am generally, not having food I actually like on hand isn't going to be pleasant.

But I feel like such a fucking Anderson, it's not even funny. Because I can't get life together so much these days that I can't hold onto my wallet to save my life. It's a combination of being too stressed and worn out to keep the bedroom properly cleaned, and being too worn out to actually put things away in their proper place. This is baseline adult functionality, though, and while I know I can replace what I need to, the fact that I can't handle this is truly pissing me off and making me rather ready to yell at the world.

On the plus side, I stumbled across not one but two pictures of wee!Sherlock with a stuffed bumblebee. That's at least something.