Happy post-Memorial Day weekend everyone! Hope you had your fill of hot dogs and hamburgers, and if you’re Italian I hope the sausage and peppers were up to snuff. Me? I had a nice bike ride and picnic on Friday with the old lady, as well as a Bar-B-Q with her family. Ribs, beer, and Greek music– what more can a guy ask for!
Unfortunately a couple of other things happened over the long weekend that I didn’t have a chance to discuss. I thought today might be a good time to address them.
1. Christopher Handley pleads guilty
My first real post on this site concerned the first amendment, and the persecution/prosecution of a man from Australia with a collection of Simpsons porn. The idea behind the conviction was that the “children” were all under the age of consent, and thus the photos constituted child pornography. Now here in America it appears we have yet another dangerous precedent being set: Christopher Handley, accused of possessing obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children and mailing obscene material, has plead guilty, despite the assistance of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (for those of you unaware of the CBLDF browse through the site; they’re really doing amazing things in the defense of the first amendment.) While it’s not by definition an actual legal precedent (due to the fact that it will not go to trial) there are dangerous connotations with a verdict like this.
I can not express the disappointment I feel right now. A man with no history of sexual deviance, a man who collects Manga, not pornographic magazines or movies, is now in danger of serving up to fifteen years in prison. The standard argument here is, of course, that no “reasonable” or “responsible” person would read this type of work (I know nothing about the stories; they could be gross for all I know) and that clearly anyone who reads it must have “issues”. Well beside the fact that this is a logical fallacy, the fact of the matter is no law was broken. No children were placed in harms way because of this comic, just as no people are actually tortured in those terrible “torture porn” horror movies. To quote Neil Gaiman, “if you don’t stand up for the stuff you don’t like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you’ve already lost.”
There are two immediate thoughts I have after reading about this. First, I’m bewildered at the sheer alarm in this country when it comes to anything regarding sex or sexuality. Whether it be eroticism in art or the acceptance of one’s sexuality it seems that the consensus is: this is bad. Religion has a large part to play in this of course, but I think it also has a lot to do with the old guard still being in charge of things. That is, our parents’ generation and older, who were born in a time when artistic and sexual expression were “weird” or “disgusting”. And that brings me to my second thought: with a changing of the guard, will this change? Clearly with each generation we become more tolerant as a people but are we in a loop where there will always be an undying portion of the 1950′s to contend with? Isn’t that what the Reagen neo-cons and Bush conservatives are all about, after all? There’s a self-perpetuating trend in this country, and indeed the world, that seems inescapable, but for the sake of us all I hope these old fogey ideas die with the old fogeys who believe them.
2. The Avatar movie is racist and I don’t care what you say
There’s a lot of controversy over the “whitewashing” of this film (with good cause, in my opinion). O! what say you, mighty Newsarama commenters?
AYRES Says:May 22nd, 2009 at 11:01 amWhat alot of people are forgetting is the shows influences are based on Asian culture and Anime, nowhere in the series were the Fire nation called Japanese or Chinese it’s obvious that’s where the show is based but it was never called that at all , the Water tribe was never called Alaskans or Inuit , where are the protesters for Sherlocke Holmes with Robert Downey jr being American playing a British icon????? Or did anyone have an issue when certain Latino actors portray Caucasian charactors (sic)?? I get that there is an issue here but I think people need to find a real problem with in the world and focus on something else.
Yes, a real problem! Now that Barack Obama is president and racism is eradicated why should we get up in arms about this? And, hey, he’s right: Robert Downey, Jr. taking the role of Sherlock Holmes from a Brit is totally on par with stealing someones cultural identity!
Steve Says:May 22nd, 2009 at 1:34 pm…just because white people are cast in Asian roles doesn’t mean its whitewashed. Its possible that the director simply found these actors to be the best choice available. After all, M. Night isn’t a white guy himself.
Ryan Says:May 22nd, 2009 at 3:29 pmOh god. You “controversy” people are just ridiculous. I liked the cartoon. So far the pictures seem true to the cartoon. get a life.
Yes, get a life. The anonymous poster on a comic book message board would like us all to get a life. Well Ryan, here’s a thought: remember your own advice next time you raise your hand at a convention to comment on how Spider-Man and Mary Jane should still be married.
Ryan shows his intelligence later in the thread as well, in response to a comment left by “Liem”:
Liem Says:May 22nd, 2009 at 5:04 pmShow me a white kid raised by monks who live monastically in temples and maybe then I’ll consider a non-Asian perspective that defends the casting choices.Ryan Says:Show me an asian kid who can bend air, water, fire and earth and flies around on a six legged bison then I’ll consider the need for the kid to have the “correct” racial background.
The difference between co-opting someones culture and marginalizing it compared to making up fantasy (which, might I add, is based off of said culture) is so incredibly vast that it boggles the mind how this kind of argument could even be made.
Listen, whether the characters in the cartoon “look” Asian or not isn’t even up for debate (as can be seen here), but even if that were the case please don’t feign ignorance by pretending you don’t know the series is influenced by Asian culture. Shit, I don’t even watch the show, but just by casually reading up on it it’s glaringly obvious. For more on this check out RACEBENDING.COM.