The characters in Homestuck are “canonically aracial” - except they’re not. When Kanaya sees Rose for the first time, she remarks that her skin is “white as snow.” Bro Strider is described by John as “a lame white rapper.” John and Jane’s supposed great-grandfather - the one they think they are biologically descended from - is described as a racist Southern plantation owner. The trolls consistently describe the skin colour of the kids as “pink.”
And yet, despite all this, despite the text of the comic confirming that, yes, these characters are white, despite the total lack of any markers that would point to any of the characters being non-white, Hussie continued to insist that the characters had no race.
And then he said that anybody who said otherwise was a racist bigot.
Let’s get back to queer representation for just a moment. What if Hussie had said, “Yeah, all the trolls are pansexual,” but every romantic relationship that he wrote was about a boy and a girl? What if Karkat made some comment about how, say, in Alternian culture, “the bride and the groom” do x, y, z at troll weddings? What if Nepeta said, “Oh, I just wish a boy would notice me?”
As a queer reader, I might start to pick up on this. I’d say, “Hey, Hussie, I thought all the trolls were pansexual - it would sure be nice to see some queer relationships!”
Say the fandom responded to my criticism with, “Get over it, you’re overreacting, you’re a social justice warrior with too much time on your hands.”
Say Hussie responded to my criticism with, “You’re a bigot - pansexual people have straight relationships, too, and I’m representing pansexuality accurately.”
And then, a few months down the road, Jane goes trickster, corners Jake, and says, “I feel so heterosexual!”
Wouldn’t that feel like a punch in the stomach? How would you feel if you were promised queer representation and repeatedly denied it and then mocked in the text of the comic, mocked by the fandom - all because you wanted a character to identify with?
Essentially, Hussie created eight white characters in a row, described them as white, and then, when his readers demanded race representation, said that his characters had no race.
And then he went ahead and made Jane white anyway.
You have to understand that the people who are upset about this aren’t social justice warriors looking to fill a quota so that their favourite webcomic will be as politically correct as possible. These are your fellow readers, your friends, who just wanted to be able to think that maybe their favourite character’s skin was the same colour as theirs.
I just googled movie times in my city and pulled up a list of films playing at the theatre closest to me. Gangster Squad - four white people on the poster. Les Miserables - all-white cast. Zero Dark Thirty - white people torturing brown people. This is 40 - white. The Hobbit - white. Silver Linings Playbook - white. Skyfall - white. Django Unchained and Lincoln - movies where representation of people of colour is tied to stories of slavery.
Do you get it? People of colour don’t get to see themselves on the big screen except as slaves and terrorists. That’s a huge, huge problem.
Homestuck was supposed to be a solution to that problem.
Hussie promised aracial characters.
He promised safe space and something like representation for people who hardly ever get to see themselves represented in media the way white people are.
He promised that anyone, anywhere, could look at Jane and say, “Cool, my favourite character can be black/Hispanic/Asian/Native American/East Indian/Middle Eastern/biracial, just like me.”
And, after making that promise, he turned Jane’s skin white.
“The stereotype of the ugly, unfuckable feminist exists for a reason – because it’s still the last, best line of defence against any woman who is a little too loud, a little too political. Just tell her that if she goes on as she is, nobody will love her. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve always believed that part of the point of feminist politics – part of the point of any sort of radical politics – is that some principles are more important than being universally adored, particularly by the sort of men who would prefer women to smile quietly and grow our hair out.”—If you’re a feminist you’ll be called a man-hater. You don’t need rebranding (via nathanjurgenson)
Futbol liveblogging (partially) relocated to here, since I have too many sound bytes and they are all at obnoxious hours. If you are so inclined, the last week’s whispered thoughts to an empty room are now available for perusal.
I came across a very interesting article recently in regard to western society and the use of color, which explores colonial history and historical context.
But consider this: in the things that we make or buy, color tends to be reined in. While there are some rule-breakers out there, generally speaking, we think that bright colors are acceptable in limited doses, but too much vivid color can seem like an assault on the senses, or we just dismiss it as tacky.
For instance, it would be considered fashionable to wear a bright pink tie, so long as the suit is gray, but in general, we would find it eccentric or odd to wear a bright pink suit with a gray tie. And in terms of home decor, we’ve had plenty of heated debates about how tacky or inconsiderate it is to paint one’s home in a “loud” color, and it’s been reported that the most popular color for home exteriors is white.
Chromophobia is marked, not just by the desire to eradicate color, but also to control and to master its forces. When we do use color, there’s some sense that it needs to be controlled; that there are rules to its use, either in terms of its quantity or its symbolic applications (e.g., don’t paint your dining room blue because it suppresses appetite). Please note that I’m not arguing against color psychology; it’s undeniable that certain colors carry certain cultural assumptions and associations, a fact that has led anthropologist Michael Taussig to argue that color should be considered a manifestation of the sacred.
But what I am arguing is that there is a pervasive idea that color gets us in the gut: it’s seductive, emotional, compelling. Color, in the words of nineteenth-century art theorist Charles Blanc, often “turns the mind from its course, changes the sentiment, swallows the thought.”
According to some art critics, sensory anthropologists, and historians, this mutual attraction and repulsion to color has centuries-old roots, bound up in a colonial past and fears of the unknown.
Michael Taussig has recounted that from the seventeenth century, the British East India Company centered much of its trade on brightly colored, cheap, and dye-fast cotton textiles imported from India. Because of the Calico Acts of 1700 and 1720, which supported the interests of the wool and silk weaving guilds, these textiles could only be imported into England with the proviso that they were destined for export again, generally to the English colonies in the Caribbean or Africa.
These vibrant textiles played a key part in the African trade, and especially in the African slave trade, where British traders would use the textiles to purchase slaves. According to Michael Taussig, these trades are significant not only because they linked chromophilic areas like India and Africa, but also because “color achieved greater conquests than European-instigated violence during the preceding four centuries of the slave trade. The first European slavers, the Portuguese in the fifteenth century, quickly learned that to get slaves they had to trade for slaves with African chiefs and kings, not kidnap them, and they conducted this trade with colored fabrics in lieu of violence.” Ironically, many of these slaves were then put to work in the colonies cultivating plants like indigo, that yielded dyes whose monetary values sometimes surpassed that of sugar.
In England, contemporaries often called the Indian textiles “rags” or “trash” and scorned their bright colors, and in Europe more generally, bright colors were taken as a sign of degeneracy and inferiority. The German writer Goethe famously stated that “Men in a state of nature, uncivilized nations and children, have a great fondness for colors in their utmost brightness,” whereas “people of refinement” avoid vivid colors (or what he called “pathological colors”).
In short, a love of bright color marked one as uncivilized, as not possessing taste, as being “foreign” or other. Color represented the “mythical savage state out of which civilization, the nobility of the human spirit, slowly, heroically, has lifted itself — but back into which it could always slide” (Batchelor, 23).
This danger of descent, of falling into degeneracy, disorientation, and excess, resulted in a valorization of the “generalized white” mentioned above. According to Batchelor, prejudice against color “masks a fear: a fear of contamination and corruption by something that is unknown or appears unknowable,” and the highly minimal, white spaces of contemporary architecture mark an attempt to rationalize and strictly limit an interior, to stop its merging with the world outside.
The “hollow, whited chamber, scraped clean, cleared of any evidence of the grotesque embarrassments of an actual life. No smells, no noises, no colour; no changing from one state to another and the uncertainty that comes with it.”