movies matter | criticism by maryann johanson
Wed Oct 21 2015, 10:24pm | 3 comments
Yeah, they still need to be called out. They may want us to call them out, but it’s the right thing to do anyway. If you light some fires hoping to get everyone to mobilize with their firetrucks and water buckets, it’s still what has to happen regardless of whether it was all “part of your plan.”
And I’m not sure they’re succeeding in “normalizing racism.” It’s not like we’re NOT going to call out less extreme expressions of racism, just because they’ve pranked us with an absurdly extreme one.
The sweet thing is, no matter how upset some jerks get about the fact that a woman and a black man are the main characters in a Star Wars film, the fact is that such a film exists and there’s nothing they can do about it. As I’ve said before: whenever sexists and racists object to something in pop culture, it means pop culture is, at least in those instances, moving in the right direction.
I guess my problem is that racism is already “normalized,” and has been for generations. This expression of it doesn’t even seem extreme to me. There are comments on the Entertainment Weekly website every other day that are nearly as bad. In my neighborhood, I hardly know anybody who hasn’t made a bigoted comment at some point. I wish I knew the solution. Sometimes I call the people out. Sometimes I tell myself: They’re already dinosaurs. I just have to outlast them.
On the Internet, I think, it’s important to distinguish between the people who believe they’re making a serious argument about our culture and the trolls who just want a reaction. The trolls will keep the discussion going forever, no matter how we respond, which is why we’re told not to feed them. Unfortunately, I’m very bad at taking that advice.
To me, though, “normalization” is when no one bats an eye at the thing, and it doesn’t even make the news. The fact that this Star Wars trolling has made the news and is getting all kinds of pushback tells me that it isn’t normal, that it’s not okay with a significant portion of the population.
It’s also why, as much as I understand (and usually try to follow) the “don’t feed the trolls” advice, I think there’s also value in responding to them, at least once or twice before they drag out the conversation. Not for the trolls’ benefit, but for the benefit of others reading. It’s important to show that the trolls’ voices are not the only ones out there. (And if the moderator later decides to delete the whole exchange, so be it.) As you said with elementary school bullies: it’s not enough just to ignore them.
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