Blogs= “Previously Published”

As I mentioned in my last post, I am now working on trying to get an extended version of The Doctor published, likely in a magazine. As writers, a lot of conventional wisdom tells us to create a blog so that we can try to build an audience for ourselves and so that we simply exercise our writing muscles. What a lot of the conventional wisdom does not tell you is that posting early versions or excerpts of your work can make publishing outlets consider it “previously published”. This principle can apply if you have a blog with millions of readers, or a blog with virtually none.

The simple presence of a page with a work that matches something else in title, in part or in whole, is enough to disqualify you from publication. I had this experience before with The Artifice. I created an article, and received a list of suggested edits. At the time, The Artifice’s own guidelines said the article would not be published once a certain amount of edits were suggested. So I simply posted the article on my site since I didn’t hear anything back for a few days.

The day after I post the article on my site the editor emails me to advise that my article was in queue for publication and now cannot be published since it is already published on my site, since Google searches and SEO will lead people to my site instead of theirs. So, forgetting The Artifice’s idiotic editing system and lack of clear communication, I couldn’t get my article published on a site with thousands of readers, because I posted it on a site that doesn’t even have one hundred.

Now I may run into the same system with The Doctor because a shorter version of it has already been posted on my site. A lot of my short poetry pieces end up fueling ideas for my longer works, such as my Alive series coming from the series of poems I posted on this site. I think it makes sense for ideas to develop this way and it is counter intuitive for small steps like this to be punished. It is ridiculously tough to approach a literary agent about a novel with no previously published work (“previously published” meaning having a real writer’s credit in something other than my own blog). So I write on my blog, practicing and developing ideas. Then the fully formed idea is rejected because its predecessor is alive on this blog.

The Swap and the next publishing mission.

I have previously discussed my plan to try to get my short story, The Swap, published before I try to get any of my novels published. The idea was that having some success on a smaller scale is worth the time and effort in order to make myself more appealing to sales-minded literary agents on a bigger scale.

As expected, I have been met with some rejection but the most recent one actually gave me personalized feedback, as opposed to a generic rejection letter e.g “Thanks for sending us… We will have to pass.”

In this feedback the editor says the pacing was an issue, and then also says the writing was too “on the nose”.

Now, perhaps I have some work to do on the pacing. The comment about the writing being too one the nose interested me though. The short story was inspired by a previous blog post, where I argued that getting racists or racism apologists to swap bodies with a black person would be the only way to make people see that our world is not colour-blind.

In my story, Jason Byrd volunteers to have his mind implanted in a black man’s for six months, in return for a $200,000 payday if he doesn’t feel like his new skin gets him treated negatively. I am thinking the editor’s comments apply to Byrd’s internal monologues, where he lashes out at social justice warriors, political correctness etc.

The thing is, that is how the new breed of racists talk. They take any opportunity to share their bitterness and resentment with an audience, especially an online audience that allows them to hide behind distance and anonymity.

Look at this blog post as an example, where two videos that have nothing to do with feminism lead to some disgruntled man getting triggered and seeing an opportunity to vent.

A scene with a female character in it leads someone to give praise to the series for not having “feminazi bullshit” in it.

“Deborah Ann Woll is so beautiful and talented. The female characters in this show are some of the best I’ve seen in a long time. No feminazi bullshit, no pandering, no SJW nonsense, just all normal, strong, believable women characters that didn’t make me feel like I was watching a show created by tumblr. I loved Karen and Madani in this show (Madani started off annoying until around episode 4 though.) This show is just so well done. There’s some cheesy writing here and there, some flat jokes, but shit, nothing is perfect. I’m stoked for season 2.”

Another scene with two female extras leads to a rant on woman not being good fighters.

“This is such a bullshit scene LOL I laughed out loud there’s no less than two women in that crowd. There is not a single civilian contracted mercenary group that would ever hire women for combat. Sjw’s and stupidity may have forced the US Army to allow women into combat but civilians don’t have to and most people that own their own businesses are smart enough to know simple facts of life. Simple facts such as women are ineffective in combat and if you don’t believe that look at any stats from the US military’s physical Fitness tests. Without fail the ratio of men passing these tests to women passing these tests are ten-to-one one across-the-board. They are not built for combat there’s nothing sexist about that it’s simple fact men are Fighters they are built to be that way women are not.”

As much as bigots complain about everyone being “offended by everything” nowadays, the bigots reveal their own insecurities and fears when they let small instances of minority representation get under their skin. They reveal that they are the ones whose minds are always circling with thoughts of victimhood. You can argue that online forums would give a more concentrated dose of this thought process, but anonymity just allows people to truly be themselves. It can also further polarize people since many online users seek out information that already supports their worldview (the selective exposure thesis). However, polarized online thoughts do eventually translate to polarized internal thoughts. Hence Jason Byrd’s diatribes against the world around him. On the nose? Maybe. Accurate? Definitely.

With that said, I am not saying my writing is perfect. Maybe I still drive the point home too bluntly, but for now I am moving on to another short story. I’ll be turning The Doctor into a short story, aiming for about 5,000 words this time since that seems to be the lower end of the accepted spectrum. However, I’ll just write what I feel and see where it gets me.

Aziz Ansari, Consent and Rape Culture

In a sense it all began with Harvey Weinstein. He wasn’t the first man or high-powered Hollywood executive to sexually assault multiple women, but he was a part of one of the biggest scandals in the past few years, and once his actions were exposed, many more women gained the courage to report their own incidents of sexual assault. Fear of reprisals or career damage no longer shackled all the women who experienced sexual assault, in Hollywood or elsewhere.

The #Metoo movement was birthed and a slew of other film and television figures entered the headlines over the past few months, including actors such as Kevin Spacey. A particular disappointing one for me was the story of Aziz Ansari. Since the story first broke, the Ansari story appears to be one of the more divisive stories. Not only because the actor denies the allegations, but because many people don’t truly believe that the account of the alleged victim (Grace), really constitutes sexual assault.

While scrolling through Medium, I came across this article that studies the issue of consent for this case. One of the biggest issues that Grace detractors have is that there were moments when she did not clearly says she didn’t want sex. In their eyes, women should be comfortable simply saying no instead of relying on non-verbal cues, such as their body language.

I can agree that women should feel confident to simply say no. In this case, Grace is not Ansari’s employee. While Ansari is a man of some influence, it is not as if she was at a direct risk of losing her job if she simply said “I don’t want to have sex with you. I’m leaving.” However, if we read Grace’s account, we see that Ansari’s response to her saying “I don’t think I’m ready to do this, I really don’t think I’m going to do this” is to get them to put their clothes back on and “chill”. Fair enough, but then he kept trying to kiss her, stick his fingers down her throat and take her pants off. That seems to nullify the whole point of putting the clothes back on.

It finally clicks for Ansari that Grace isn’t interested when she pulls away from a kiss: that is when he agrees to call a ride for her. Just prior to that, she moves away from him and says she is calling a ride. She is then greeted with a hug and another kiss she doesn’t want. If anything, it was a non-verbal cue that finally let the message sink in. People who argue that Grace should have just said no, probably didn’t read her full account.  They read the accounts of her discomfort with Ansari’s advances and quickly rushed to the comment section.

I believe this animosity or apathy towards Grace has two main reasons.

  1. For men, it reflects a fear that they could make advances on a woman that they think are consensual (because she doesn’t explicitly say no), only to be the target of sexual assault allegations afterwards.
  2. For women, they can avoid having to empathize with Grace or put themselves in her shoes since they can think “Well I would have given him a firm no so that wouldn’t have happened to me”.

The “she should have said no” excuse has some merit. However, it also removes any responsibility for men to pick up on non-verbal cues. Anyone who is not autistic should be able to pick up on body language, such as moving away, averted eye contact etc. as signs that this woman does not seem interested. The answer is not to keep trying or offer more liquor like Ansari did. Someone like Ansari is likely used to fawning fangirls and I always wondered if this led to a form of blindness overtime. You get used to people fawning over your status so much that reluctance becomes harder to see. This is not an excuse for Ansari’s behaviour, I simply wonder if it is a factor.

Some of the Ansari defence uses slut-shaming and rape culture as their crutch, such as this comment on the Medium article.

“The best way to avoid a situation like hers was to not engage in one-night-stands. This goes for men and women. Have enough self-respect and self-control to get to know a person before you commit the most intimate act two people can.”

Basically, she was “asking for it”. Like I told this guy, this isn’t the 1950s. This antiquated idea that sex must always come from commitment or lead to it is a holdover from a time when sexuality was supposed to be the domain of a housewife and her husband. I liked to think that in 2018, a woman who is in the mood for sex, isn’t blamed for someone else’s aggressive advances. Wanting sex does not mean that you want sex from anyone, or that you are open to a potential sexual partner doing anything. As an example, if you agree to have sex with someone and then they want to do specific sexual acts that make you uncomfortable, then you have every right to say no. You were not asking for it if things get out of hand or if your partner’s true colours were not what you expected.

The excuses that rely on slut-shaming and rape culture don’t even require the detractor to read the article, and I’m pretty sure that the guy who wrote this did not read Grace’s account or the Medium article I linked to. He just saw an opportunity to judge someone else for their sexual behaviour, which didn’t fit his idea of what a proper woman should be like. “Tye Fox” says this excuse applies to men and women but I still have to wonder if he would jump to this defence to defend a woman sexually assaulting a man.

All this to say that I agree that there were blurred lines about consent in the Ansari story, not clear consensual sex as Ansari argued. Yes, I believe Grace could have been firmer with her rejection, but I also think some responsibility for what happened falls on Ansari. I believe that Grace did enough to signal she was uninterested, and that Ansari ignored clear signs. I have to wonder what dates look like for the hordes of men who are taking Ansari’s side on this issue (if they actually read the full Grace account). Do they also ignore a women when she says she doesn’t think she wants to hook up? Do they just try to feed her more liquor and keep trying to stick their fingers down her throat?

Next Publishing Mission

Earlier this year, I committed myself to finishing my fourth book, Alive: Part II and a short story entitled The Swap.

Alive: Part II is about 3/4 complete, and The Swap is now complete.

Instead of trying to get any of my books published for the moment, I want to pursue publication for The Swap. I have submitted it to two magazines so far, with one of those submissions ultimately being a waste. I made the mistake of assuming the manuscript format was similar to what is accepted for novel submissions (you can laugh at my mistake) but short story ones are a different creature entirely. I am pretty sure the editor of the magazine didn’t bother reading the story before he rejected it, and I can’t blame him.

There aren’t that many magazines that accept science-fiction stories of my story’s length so I don’t have that many outlets to submit to. I am hoping that one of the less than 10 options I have works out, but the odds of that are very slim.

If the short story submissions don’t work out I’ll likely post it here and then try to gain some traction online through other outlets. Trying to publish a book without any previous publishing experience is almost impossible so I figure that having a real publishing credit under my belt can help (marginally) when I continue that search.

Kristen Wiig as Cheetah

Kristen Wiig was rumoured to be in talks to play Wonder Woman villain, Cheetah, for a few days before it became official yesterday.

As expected, this led to a lot of discussion online and it appears that most of the supporters of this decision were either rabid Wiig fans or people who appealed to the “Heath Ledger” argument. When Heath Ledger was cast as The Joker many people, myself included, were very skeptical of the decision. Ledger then went on to blow most people away and deliver my favourite portrayal of The Joker.

What people need to realize is that Ledger was the exception to the rule. He is one of the very few questionable casting decisions that turned out to be a wise choice. For every Ledger Joker, we also get Jared Leto Joker (which has not aged well in my opinion).

Sorry Leto.

Another issue is that some actors or actresses are not suited for certain roles. Colin Firth is a great actor but I don’t think he’d make a good choice for Wolverine, or Jack Reacher. Wiig may have the acting chops for a serious role but that still does not mean that this is a good role for her.

I will hold out some hope for this casting since I thought Gal Gadot would fail to carry a movie as the lead. However, I am not going to jump on the bandwagon and put blind faith in this casting decision working out perfectly.

What Does It Take for Something to be Considered Racist Nowadays?

I had another moment of weakness recently, scrolling through the scourge of YouTube’s recommended videos and watching a video from the REACT channel. Below was one of the recommended videos, and as you can guess, the title got my attention.

The video I was watching was one where millennials are basically tested on their knowledge of songs from the 90s, 80s etc. I guess the theme of “older music” related to older tv commercials with YouTube’s algorithm. Anyone who has read my previous posts might know my thoughts on the criticism of “pc culture” or “triggered snowflakes”. In short, the criticism of people who get “offended by everything” is often an argumentative tool used by outright bigots to defend their prejudice. You disagree with them saying Muslims shouldn’t be allowed in the US? You’re politically correct. If a smaller issue pops up, like people complaining about whitewashing in a film, you can bet that these same bigots will be there to complain about people getting worked up over nothing. And then they’ll also be the first to complain if a character gets “blackwashed”. Sometimes, political correctness can go too far. However, the people who constantly rally against pc culture are often just bigots upset that the world no longer tolerates their bigotry the same way it used to. They want to return to the good old days.

The commercials above are a great example. I did not watch all of them. Why? The title of the video and the description (which pokes fun at present “I’m offended” era) says there was nothing wrong with these ads at the time and also implies that there is nothing wrong with them now either. In short, while people nowadays are more likely to get offended because they are “snowflakes”, the ads are not racist. The issue is the pc snowflakes, not the ads themselves. That is the point the poster and most of the commenters are making.

So, if I watch any of the ads and find any of them offensive, that means I view the poster’s point as invalid. Firstly, many of these ads were released decades ago. Some were released during times such as Jim Crow, so obviously the standards for representations of minorities were not the same. If you are watching videos from that time and your first reaction is “I wish people would tolerate commercials like this nowadays”, then you are the issue: Not social justice warriors, political correctness, feminazis, white knights etc.

This is the perfect example that many people that say they want to avoid being pc just want to be able to embrace racism and misogyny without any criticism or pushback from the society around them. One commenter after another fails to see that maybe it is a good thing that these sexist and racist ads are no longer acceptable. Yes, maybe people do get offended by nothing sometimes, but these people think these ads are a good example of “nothing”.

In this day and age, these right-wingers need to hear a racial slur or see a lynching to be convinced that something is in fact racist.

The Right is Still Triggered

Note: To anyone reading, sorry for the hiatus. Been busy sorting out a move into a new place and just got internet set up yesterday. Without further ado, back to it.

I have my moments of distraction, where I spend time in the black hole of YouTube recommendations, watching scenes from some of my favourite shows or the other random videos that pique my interest. I was watching a clip from Netflix’s The Punisher, when I came across a random right-wing comment.

“Deborah Ann Woll is so beautiful and talented. The female characters in this show are some of the best I’ve seen in a long time. No feminazi bullshit, no pandering, no SJW nonsense, just all normal, strong, believable women characters that didn’t make me feel like I was watching a show created by tumblr. I loved Karen and Madani in this show (Madani started off annoying until around episode 4 though.) This show is just so well done. There’s some cheesy writing here and there, some flat jokes, but shit, nothing is perfect. I’m stoked for season 2.”

Firstly, this comment is amusing since the 20+ other comments after it didn’t mention politics at all. No one else was mentioning “feminazis” or sjws, so who is really triggered here?

Next, this post also demonstrates how intolerance is relative. This viewer commends Karen’s character and her inclusion in the series, while also saying it isn’t “feminazi bullshit”. For some people, any scene with a female lead (if she isn’t banging the male lead) is feminazi bullshit. Any strong female character becomes a Mary Sue and part of a feminist agenda.

As an example, look at this comment on this Punisher clip. In the below scene, Billy Russo is giving a speech to potential recruits of his private military contracting firm, Anvil.

Now check out this comment from a triggered right-winger who sees two female applicants.

“This is such a bullshit scene LOL I laughed out loud there’s no less than two women in that crowd. There is not a single civilian contracted mercenary group that would ever hire women for combat. Sjw’s and stupidity may have forced the US Army to allow women into combat but civilians don’t have to and most people that own their own businesses are smart enough to know simple facts of life. Simple facts such as women are ineffective in combat and if you don’t believe that look at any stats from the US military’s physical Fitness tests. Without fail the ratio of men passing these tests to women passing these tests are ten-to-one one across-the-board. They are not built for combat there’s nothing sexist about that it’s simple fact men are Fighters they are built to be that way women are not.”

So this person is obviously harping on the fact that women typically have less upper body strength than men. He says women pass these tests at a ten-to-one ratio compared to men, and that ratio of women is approximately what we see here. Maybe (emphasis on maybe) I could understand where he was coming from if the group was mostly women, but to go on a rant because two women are in a scene?

Like I said, sjw and feminazi are relative. They are not absolutes. “Feminazi bullshit” to one person can be completely overlooked by another. The more right-wing you are, the more sensitive you will be to any minority or female inclusion.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

T’Challa a.k.a Black Panther was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in Captain America: Civil War, originally serving a role similar to the one Spider-Man played in the comics (the figure who joins Iron Man’s side but then changes his mind). Once Marvel were able to secure the rights for Spider-Man again, Tom Holland’s version of the character was hurriedly fit into the film. Spider-Man was brought in, but Black Panther remained and I think many people would agree that he shined in his debut.

The writing, the suit, the fighting and Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal all introduced the new King of Wakanda, and Black Panther picks up shortly after, where T’Challa is returning to Wakanda to be crowned king.

Firstly, there has bee a lot of excitement about this film because it is one of the first mainstream Hollywood films with a black director and a mostly black cast. Additionally, it is also one of the first movies in a while focusing on a black superhero. Inevitably, people’s excitement at these developments is also being met with the “colour-blind” or outright racist resentment.

  1. You don’t see me cheering for a new movie with a white cast.

It wouldn’t make sense for you to. There is an endless parade of films with white main characters and supporting characters. Your characters have a wide range of traits and professions. They are not often portrayed as thugs, or streetwise comic relief. The numerical representation of white people on screen far outstrips their representation in America, with over 70% of speaking roles in Hollywood films going to white actors (Sept. 2014- to August 2015). You are so used to this now that you have become blind to it.

Whiteness is the most desired commodity in Hollywood. It is why many stories focusing on black heroes are not viewed as “marketable”, despite successes like Straight Outta Compton and Hidden Figures. Studio heads are more willing to bank on white actors. This is why they favour adaptations of properties with white characters. This is why a character can be whitewashed when Hollywood adapts a story, because they view it as marketable. Then audiences start to internalize the same excuse, and get to the point where they genuinely support the idea that a movie loses interest for them if the protagonist isn’t white.

Consider this, even with the Marvel brand and Black Panther’s introduction in Civil War, it was still considered a “risk” to give $200 million to a black director whose previous work was critically lauded and profitable. There is a long-standing belief that black doesn’t sell as well as white, especially overseas, and Black Panther is challenging the dogma with its empathic opening weekend.

Don’t accuse black people or minorities as a whole of being racist here. Black people and Hispanics generally see more movies than white people do, meaning that a lot of them shell out money to watch (or even repeatedly watch) movies with characters that may not look like them. If minorities can do it, why can’t white people? We can appreciate a good story regardless of race, but we can also be appreciative when we get a great story and great film with actors that represent our population.

In short, if you go into this movie and carry your resentment with you, it is likely to influence your rating of the film.

Moving on…

Firstly, I have to say that this film did an amazing job of bringing Wakanda to life. Everything from the costumes, customs and music transports you to the fictional country that was never colonized. Its technology and clothing blend traditional and futuristic, borrowing inspiration from existing African countries to create something that is truly afrofuturistic.

Second, Black Panther actually gives us a good villain. Michael B. Jordan’s portrayal of Killmonger gives us a villain with a tragic backstory and a mission that is more unique than a lot of others you will see. Essentially, he wants to take over the world, but the nuances and motive behind his aspirations are what makes him and the film special. Jordan can be charismatic, intelligent, empathetic, but also threatening. Other villains have also been physically threatening, such as Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy, but without good writing they end up as generic placeholders. In terms of the entire MCU, Kilgrave from Jessica Jones may still have Killmonger beat. However, I have to place Killmonger above Loki as the MCU films’ #1 villain. Black Panther doesn’t shy away from exploring issues of racial identity and racism, and that was a pleasant surprise coming from the same company that turned a doomsday story into a buddy comedy (Thor: Ragnarok). Killmonger’s last line in particular, is one that left me speechless.

Speaking of comedy, it’s generally handled well in this film. I have previously ranted on YouTube and this blog about Marvel’s insistence on humour in their films. The Thor films as a whole are the worst offenders, giving us sloppy writing that regularly fails to build tension because we always know a joke is soon to follow, usually from the most annoying characters (looking at you Kat Dennings). Black Panther has one or two moments where I felt like a joke could have been cut, but overall I believe it is one of the MCU films that has the most balanced humour. There is nothing wrong with humour in itself, but it must fit the characters and the storyline.

In terms of jokes that could have been cut, one of the most notable comes from Andy Serkis as Ulysees Klaue a.k.a Klaw. Reprising his role from Avenvers: Age of Ultron, Klaw serves as an ally to Killmonger. If you have seen the trailers you know there is a scene where Killmonger frees Klaw from captivity, so what I am about to say won’t be too much of a spoiler. During Klaw’s interrogation, he is randomly singing What is Love. I guess the “don’t hurt me, no more” part is meant to be funny because Klaw wants to avoid torture, but the scene also comes across as really random and very Marvel-esque in terms of sloppy humour.

Most of the humour comes from Shuri, T’Challa’s sister. Letitia Wright previously portrayed Nish in season 4 of Black Mirror and she is also able to shine here with the lighter material and the more intense moments. Shuri’s rapport with her brother is one of the highlights of the film and is a perfect example of a more organic approach to comedy, where it flows from a character naturally and doesn’t feel like it was forced in to keep things “fun”.

Alongside Boseman, Wright and Jordan we also have a host of other talented actors and actresses. Danai Gurira, best known as Michonne on The Walking Dead, makes Michonne look like Elsa in this movie. Daniel Kaluuya also plays an important role but he does get outshined by Winston Duke’s M’Baku. Martin Freeman also returns from Civil War as agent Everett Ross, and is yet another talented cast member and Lupita N’yongo rounds it out. For those who have seen the movie, you know her character is the real MVP.

The action in the film is at its best when the hand-to-hand choreography is on display. Some of the larger scenes do feature some shoddy CGI but thankfully these scenes aren’t prevalent enough to ruin the film. The Black Panther shines in his action scenes but Boseman also brings a great presence and power to the character, building off what we saw in Civil War. He is someone who is torn between tradition and change, past and future.

I know that the hype or the outright anti-black animosity will affect some people’s views of this film. Some might say it is overhyped. I was pleasantly surprised not to feel that way. It is my new favourite MCU film, beating out The Winter Soldier.

Go see the film for yourself, and hopefully you can enjoy the film simply as a film, while also appreciating everything else that comes with it.

Another Day, Another School Shooting

I was saddened to hear about America’s latest school shooting, but I can’t say I was surprised. Another teen, another assault rifle used to murder students and teachers.

As usual, this brings up the issue of gun control. And as usual, there are plenty of voices at work to derail the conversation.

  1. This isn’t the time for politics. This is the time for mourning.

This is a convenient platitude that serves to get us nowhere. It’s too soon after Florida. Is it still too soon after Las Vegas, San Bernardino, Sandy Hook? Saying now isn’t the time implies the conversation will happen at some point, but it appears that isn’t the real intention with this excuse. I came across a post by one of the denizens of Twitter, who was touting this excuse, only to be silenced by one of the students who was hiding as the shooter made his way through her school.

Below is only one of such posts I found, I was actually looking for a post from another user when I came across this one. If you really care about the victims, not about maintaining the status quo, maybe we can try to hear them out.

2. Guns don’t kill people….

I’m sure you all know how that sentence ends. Firstly, this argument is built on a straw man foundation. It assumes that gun control laws are meant to eliminate guns completely and/or eliminate shootings completely.

The most popular gun control reforms on the table are not about taking away all guns. They are about initiating magazine limits and putting restrictions on the kind of guns people can legally acquire, with a specific focus on restricting assault rifles.

People can still have their pistols and standard rifles for hunting, self-defence or whatever hobbies involve these tools. Most people pushing for gun reform realize that shootings as a whole will not stop. That is not the goal. The goal is to cut down on the casualties in these mass shootings, where someone with a history of mental health issues can easily acquire an assault rifle and mow down a lot of people in a crowded area. James Holmes probably wouldn’t have been able to kill twelve people and injure seventy others in a theater if he was forced to use a pistol or a rifle, instead of an assault rifle with an extended magazine. These infamous mass shootings haven’t been perpetrated by people who had black market connections to get their guns, they were perpetrated by people who were able to get assault rifles legally, either by purchasing it directly or borrowing from mommy.

It is still possible to protect yourself and your home with guns such as pistols or shotguns. If those guns aren’t suitable for you, I have to ask how you managed to make so many enemies. If you simply like shooting assault rifles, ask yourself if your hobby is worth all the potential negatives that come with it, especially since the background checks currently in place apparently aren’t thorough enough.

Gun reform still protects your 2nd amendment right, but let’s try to remember the context for the 2nd amendment. It was created to give Americans the right to bear arms as independent citizens (as opposed to British subjects) and the amendment was put in place long before weapons such as the AR-15 were invented. Maybe the founding fathers meant they want everyone to be able to buy an AR-15, or maybe that isn’t what they intended.

Also, for the “the only way to stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun” adherents, remember that the Florida school had an armed guard on duty. Maybe you’ll argue they should have had more armed guards on duty, which means you miss the point. In your world we would have AR-15 shootouts between shooters and guards at the schools. Why don’t we just cut out the root instead of attacking the weed that springs forth?

Trying to put reasonable gun control laws in place doesn’t have to become a partisan issue. It is a human issue.

Black Panther and the Triggered Right

As I’ve discussed before, the term “triggered’ is often used by the right-wing to criticize people who get worked up about an issue that the right views as invalid. The use of “triggered” also implies that the right doesn’t have any issues that they care about, implying that they don’t worry about the trivial things the rest of us “snowflakes” do.

Which is why I find it so amusing to point out the double standard in this world view. For the newest exhibit, I present Black Panther. Like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, Black Panther is the target of a barrage by the alt-right. The alt-right takes credit for The Last Jedi’s Rotten Tomatoes score, saying they used bots to create fake reviews. Now they have their sights set on a upcoming superhero film.

Aside from giving us a heroic black main character, Black Panther will introduce Wakanda, a fictional African nation untouched by colonialism. It is wealthy, technologically advanced and has little to no contact with the outside world.

There was a mob of people got angry when they saw John Boyega in a stormtrooper costume for five seconds in the first trailer for The Force Awakens, so I knew it was a matter of time before Black Panther got heat for positive portrayals of black characters. People are always quick to argue that online discussion doesn’t matter. Yes, there are some people who make inflammatory comments that they don’t genuinely support. They do it for the purpose of attention and we call them trolls. It is convenient to think that every racist comment you read online is the work of a troll, but that mindset is not just delusional, it is downright dangerous. Steve Bannon, the Breitbart editor who was temporarily the White House Chief Strategist, said that online hate is an “army”.

“You can activate that army,” Bannon stated. “They come in through Gamergate* or whatever and then get turned onto politics and Trump.”

Gamergate, in short, was an online hate campaign that targeted Anita Sarkeesian for speaking out on misogyny in the video game industry. What some people ignore as a bunch of trolls, became a weaponized force that helped to put Trump and his ilk in office. These aren’t just words. These aren’t a few harmless comments. They are the child of a much larger issue in society, a growing resentment and outright hate of minorities that is further emboldened by all the hate the commander in chief spews.

When the left complains about whitewashing in films, we’re told we’re being divisive. We’re focusing on race too much and not letting talent breathe. Now we get a talented black director, directing a large cast of talented black actors. We have black actors doing more than playing thugs, comic relief or supporting characters. Black Panther is like most of Hollywood’s films, where one race of people get the privilege of most of the roles and the roles with the most variety.

However, some people are ignoring the talent in the cast or the interesting story that the trailers hint at. They see too much blackness. Specifically, they see too much black greatness. These people would complain about a film where we’re slaves as well, since say they see that as an attempt to make them feel guilty or to stir up conflict (instead of simply seeing it as a history film). It turns out these people don’t like the other end of that extreme too.

  1. I don’t see my race represented enough! (although there are plenty of other films where you will see it disproportionately represented).
  2. It makes my people look bad. (For all we know it won’t. If it does, welcome to our world. We’re always told just to suck it up because it’s just a movie.)
  3. It’s wrong that black people are so proud of themselves. (Aren’t you the people that argue that the marches in Charlottesville were just a little racial pride? You have your free speech, we have ours.)

I’m looking forward to seeing Black Panther and there’s nothing the alt-right and their bots can do about it.