Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Alisa Valdes, Chica Lit and Humanity.

Alisa Valdes went on a long twitter rant yesterday on race, literature, and categorization. Here's a sample tweet
"Dear James Patterson: The white community is so proud of you for writing our white stories. Sound absurd? Quit doing it 2me.

and another:

The idea that Latinos are homogeneous and predictable because of a US-manufactured "ethnicity" is morally repugnant & makes us all subhuman.

And on her facebook, she notes that "I hate all labels. Always have. I find them simplistic and moronic. That's why I tried in my "chica lit" novels to deconstruct the Latino myth"

Now, these tweets aren't the full conversation, read back in her timeline and read her entire update if you want her entire message.

But I think you can get the gist of some of her arguments. I think there's a lot of truth in her discussion of the diversity of Latinos and the artificiality of racial categories.

(although I was reminded of how in this story, they discussed how Latin@s in the second generation tended to identify as 'white' less often- and I think that's because in this country, they aren't 'white' - although to me, 'white' means that there aren't widespread hysterias about how your group is RUINING THE NATION and THERE OUGHT TO BE A LAW against whatever your group is supposedly doing whether it's speaking Spanish, being poor and having a kid, or drinking beer*)

However, I think there's a huge hunger for stories of more than just the pale and male, and so when people see those stories, they say "write more! write this new Chica lit I've discovered!" Categories may be invented, but those invented categories structure our lives. We want to see our experiences in literature, and thus the categorization. When we go to the shelf for Latina lit, African American lit, Asian American lit, we go there to finally see ourselves reflected in the pages of books.

I don't think that these categories mean the works aren't universal- I've never set foot in the Caribbean, but the Carribbean influenced stories of Nalo Hopskinson speak to me. I've never been Chinese, but I love Amy Tan. I've even read Valdes' work(I was entertained). Categories don't mean that we aren't all human, and at the heart, we all want safety, warmth and happiness, but they color the ways we get to these human universals.

Categories of stories about who a people are are just as valid as categories about whether a story involves dragons and swords or spaceships. We go to the shelves to learn something deeper about that experience-whether it's ethnic experience or the imagined experience of wacky god sex.

We may be surprised about what we find.

*The Irish and Germans became white when we no longer had to hear about how their beer drinking ways and/or Catholism were breaking the country's fabric apart.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Eyes Just Rolled So Fucking Hard

This is a stupid article. Selections are in bold.

My response to his question was that given the cynicism in which much of indie film traffics, the movie is revolutionary in that it's about love and gratitude, and that it's hopeful not bleak. ("Crowd-pleasing" is a curious designation, if you think about it -- shouldn't every movie be "crowd-pleasing?" Who are movies for, after all?) No matter how dark things may get in a story, I feel it's the responsibility of the storyteller to leave the audience with at least a shred of hope.

Uh..a hopeful movie is 'revolutionary'? No, that's pretty common. Everything from Children of Heaven to Kiki's Delivery Service to Daughters of the Dust to Being The Diablo have grace and hope and gratitude in them. Maybe he's just in a particularly bleak scene, but you don't even have to look very hard to see cheery films that aren't playing at every multiplex. And it's not the storyteller's responsibility to have anyone feel hope. It's the storyteller's responsibility to tell the story the best that they are able- whether it's a happy story or a sad one or somewhere in between.

The dark and fearful stuff is no less 'true' than its opposite, it just announces itself in a louder, more insistent manner. Joy speaks in more of a whisper and you sometimes have to lean in a bit to hear it. But it's always there for those who can get quiet enough to hear it. I'm not a pollyanna -- I get that the world is rife with horrors. But I also know the world is rife with everything else. There's this great Carlos Castaneda quote: "We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." I really believe that. Negativity is so reflexive in our society that it takes great vigilance to train yourself anew. But to me it feels worth it.

I really hate it when folks assume that the way it is for them is the way it is for everyone. For me, happiness is a heavy lift. I have to work hard, constantly trying to eat right, exercise right, sleep right, think right. It's a full time job to be 'happy'. And negativity is NOT rife in our society. See this video. Really. You have to work hard to AVOID mandatory cheer.

I've decided that if I'm going to spend years writing, prepping, casting, shooting, editing, sound mixing, color correcting, and publicizing a movie, I'm going to want it to be the kind of movie I would love, where people grow up and get out of their own ways and open up to something bigger than their own egoic needs. Not because this is a truer version of reality, but because it's the reality I wish to grow, the kind of world in which I would most like to live. When so much else is calling attention to the dark and dysfunctional, I just don't feel it's my job to contribute. Too many people are already on the case.

I agree about making the sort of movie you'd want to watch, but on the other hand, to make things less dark and dysfunctional, sometimes you got to know those things are there. So often we pull ourselves into a bubble- don't watch the news, it's got bad news on it, don't be around people who are sad; they are 'toxic', and we end up not knowing what's going on, and then we can't act to make things better if we don't know that things are happening.

And in a story, whether film or other media, sometimes you have to go there- to the bleakness, to the darkness, even if only a minute. I want a fully realized world in your fiction- the brighter the light, the darker the shadow. If I see only light, and no shadow, I start to wonder what I'm not seeing, and I'm out of your story.

Also, happy endings are much happier to me, and satisfy me more if it seems like I can empathize with the characters invovled- and really, I can't emphasize with shiny happy people. I really just feel distant from characters like that. Occasionally, it feels like our characters have gotten a feelingsotomy and never feel sad for more than five seconds. This bothers me if say, their father, who raised them, and they were close to, dies, and they have one scene of sadness and then are happy and fine the rest of the story. This always strikes me as false and throws me out of the story.

I also need the happy ending to be 'earned' by the characters. So The Dark Lord of Baby Stabbing was defeated? I'll like it more if our characters sacrificed something- maybe love or their right leg or the life of their heroic sidekick to defeat him. I also like it when characters who have had their whole life's purpose being defeating the Dark Lord of Baby Stabbing grapple with what that means for them.

I wouldn't like it at all if our hero just won easily, maybe with his Ring of Deux Ex Author, and lost nothing, and everyone is happy. Both of those endings count as 'happy endings', but one seems emotionally real and satisfies me, and the other makes me want to ask for my money back. So it's more than just THOSE NEGATIVE MEANIES HATE HAPPY ENDINGS, and I'm a BOLD REVOLUTIONARY FOR WRITING A MOVIE THAT IS POSITIVE.

No, get off of it. You're not striking a blow for happiness and flowers and whatever, if you make a fricking movie. Especially if it sucks. You're making a movie. Burst your self importance bubble,please.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What I Think About Bunny Drop vol 3

I enjoyed it. (link because it's $7 at amazon for some reason) At first, I was worried that the plot wouldn't be advanced, since the story goes off into tangents about say, Daikichi's coworker, but luckily, it slips back into place, developing the relationships between Kouki and Rin, Daikichi and Masako. I find the tension between Daikichi and Masako interesting. Daikichi doesn't seem to understand how Masako could leave her child in his grandfather's care, but it seems evident to the reader or at least to me. I'm not sure I could give up my dreams and struggle for the sake of someone else. She was pressured into keeping Rin, and had some resentment over that, but she always saw how grandpa raised her well and faithfully, so she could rest easy that way. She remarked that how Daikichi and grandpa act around Rin was the same. Even if she feels guilt or sadness, she knows her child is well taken care of. She may bury herself in work, but I don't think she deserves the snap judgment Daikichi had of her in volume 2.

Of course, maybe he feels guilty about taking a child from his mother(he mentions this in volume 2) and feels that he has to demonize Masako for now. I'm sure his relationship with Rin will soon be so strong that he can accept her mother as well.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Oresama Teacher and Eensy Weensy Monster

Oresama Teacher bothers me. There's a lot of cookie cutter "girl meets this jerk! Oh, but she really knows him! Crap! She's bumped into him at school" scenes in this first volume. Then again, this could be pretty good. Mafuyu idiot. And Hayasaka is just as bad. Just as long as they don't go overboard on Mafuyu's luurve for Takaomi, this could be good fun.

Eensy Weensy Monster is of course nothing like Tsuda's masterpiece Kare Kano. What really hamstrings this series is its length. Nanoha has some interesting friends, and I'd like to see more of them, and the relationship between Hazuki and Nanoha's brother could also be developed more as well. The monster metaphor gets tedious even within these two short volumes, but I'd like to see a little more development of say, Nanoha's inferority complex. I can't complain too much, I only bought this because I like to look at Tsuda's art.


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Borders is more important than I thought

Apparently Borders was Toykopop's biggest cutomer. Even if I can't find Oresama Teacher or Eensy Weensy Monster(*blushes* stupid title, cute manga) on the Border's shelves....*sigh*

I bought House of Five Leaves instead. I love the 'ugly' art, the character studies, the many threads of obligation and desire that drag Masa into the Five Leaves... I want to buy the second volume and then read the whole third volume and then buy the third volume when it comes out.


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Noone's Paying You to Believe in the Beauty of Your Dreams

I don't think that Stu Levy is bipolar manic and addicted like Charlie Sheen, even though his business decisions are horrible.

I think he's got an overdose of Americanitis. The whole I'm thinking positive! I'm ignoring you negative haters thing is rampant here. And the sad thing is that 'negative haters' are what other people call 'customers' or 'people who know what they are talking about'. Many companies have gone under when they stopped serving the customers they had, and started chasing after customers that may or may not exist. The average manga customer has plenty of companies vying for their dollar, and without skilled editors, you can't produce the quality or quantity you need to compete.

Keep it simple! I get the feeling that people watching reality shows on Hulu aren't going to become paying manga customers.

People who say "You know, the world doesn't need another reality show" aren't haters. They are people who are telling the truth. Ignore them at your peril.


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Focus on Manga

Layoffs at Tokyopop Really, instead of useless reality shows or crappy low budget movies, focus on manga. Focus on quality. My Lady Kanako book has plenty of typos, even though it costs more than a similar book by another publisher. There's a recession on, and focusing on what made you a viable company in the first place may be the first path to weathering it. And making it so I can read old backlist manga on my kindle. But definitely, we don't need more reality shows.

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