Monday, October 13, 2008

Stuff from Alas!

Two funny things, courtesy of a blog called Alas!.

1. Take On Me - Literal Lyrics.

I laughed the whole way through this video. There was nary a second when I wasn't trying to stifle my laughter at my desk.




2. Stuff White People Do has some hilarious things to say about the movie Fireproof:
Anyway, this movie's painfully serious storyline probably accounts for the presence of one of the black characters, the one pushing a broom and cracking wise with a white guy--he's comic relief, and he wouldn't be there otherwise. He's also cracking wise about emotional things, matters of the heart, which is why, as I'll explain in a minute, he's a Magical Negro. As for the other black characters, I counted four more--two straight-talking friends of the white wife, a straight-talking nurse, and yet another straight-talker near the end, who looks to be a co-worker of the much-too-literally firefighting husband.

And what are these black folks talking so straight about with the two white protagonists? Love, baby, nothin' but love, and especially, how to fix it. Which is, again, what makes them "Magical Negroes." Black folks, you see, are supposedly closer to their emotions, and even to the spirit world. So when white folks in movies need help in those areas, they often reach out to conveniently located black folks for help.
This is a problem I've had with many a book and movie since I don't know when. I mean, literally, I don't know when. I can't remember at what point in my life my teenage brain became aware that there is this bizarre recurring theme in white culture that people of different ethnic groups are somehow clued into the spiritual essence of the world. In America, it largely plays out through Southern characters. This is leftover, I suppose, from the very long ago days when black slaves were shipped over with their own religious traditions and then weaved into Christianity. It's also attributed to women, which, for the sake of matching the Magical Negroes moniker, I'll call the "Wiccan Women" syndrome. I don't know if we do this to ourselves or if it was done to us, but it's annoying as shit. It's done as a sort of a girl power play, but it's fucking lame. How about we're great because we're human beings and gifted with as much intelligence, wit, and insight as any human being?

It's also pretty insulting to white men. Why is anyone who isn't a white male somehow in touch with a deeper truth about human existance? It just doesn't make any sense and I find it continually insulting when it's embraced - not just as a female, and certainly not as a non-white ethnicity (what with my being white and all), but rather as a person with common sense and an ability to know when someone's peddling some bullshit. This is why I didn't like the "Ya-Ya Sisterhood" book and movie, this is why I didn't like "The Secret Life of Bees" book (and possibly movie - who knows, maybe it'll be a fantastic movie), and this is why "The Karate Kid" is totally retarded (just kidding, Karate Kid is great ... and totally retarded).

To further get into it, "The Secret Life of Bees" is guilty on both counts - Magical Negroes and Wiccan Women. Here is my review of the book from Goodreads.com, addressing the Wiccan Women issue:
It was subscribing to that peculiar Southern female author quirk of idealizing the feminine mystique, as though all women are born into a magical, feminine spirituality. It was in "Ya-Ya Sisterhood" and it was very heavy indeed here.

Choice line illustrating my point would be, "August had said everybody needed a seashell in her bathroom to remind her the ocean was her home. Seashells, she said, are Our Lady's favorite items, next to the moon." Excuse me? What is this business about the ocean being every woman's home? Says who and since when? And why keep the seashell in the bathroom? Why not the bedroom? And where did this tie in with the Virgin Mary, the moon, and seashells come from?
To my delight, the day I posted my review, I found that my best friend Bonnie previously posted her own review of the book and addressed the Magical Negroes issue:
One thing that is a slight pet peeve with me is the healing power apparently inherent in the culture of the 'other'. Here is the formula: 1 caucasian person, hurt and broken by the world they live in, be it by family, work or environment + 1 minority culture (black or asian is fine) = that one caucasian person finding the true wonders in life and becoming a more secure and happy human being after being surrounded by drove of their black or yellow or red skinned friends, who show them beauty and love such as a white person has never known. Thank you minority culture! All black women are not royalty, "like hidden queens". But a little known fact is that all, ALL old asian men are kung fu masters.
Goddamnit, I didn't remember that she'd made a Karate Kid-esque joke at the end when I made my Karate Kid joke above. I'm leaving it. Fuck you guys.

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