Dearest Lovers of the Zoo. I know what you’re thinking:
I know what you’re thinking:
Lex, it’s only the fourth day of the year. Why are you wildin’ already?
In a way, you’re right. It is too early to wild. But if I am to keep it 100, I must say that there are plenty of things that I didn’t get to wild about properly in 2016. Male feminists. Lena Dunham’s cockroach-like refusal to disappear. Tilda Swinton’s abhorrent emails to Margaret Cho (which I’ll get to). And Doctor Strange in general, to be honest.
The latter I had planned on reviewing in its entirety, but as time went on…I didn’t think the effort would be worth it.
Of course, this makes this post in question semi-ironic since it is most certainly inspired by the film’s director, Scott Derrickson…who recently decided to show his ass.
Confused as to what I could possibly be yapping about? I would be too. Which is why I took the liberty of collecting this handy dandy receipt:
To be clear, there are approximately 32098321483149280913489032 things that are wrong with Derrickson’s headass statement and Derrickson himself has me fucked up in 4082948019893012802 ways. However, because of time restraints, I’m only going to go over about three.
Starting with this one:
Derrickson’s statement assumes that quite literally no one praised Rogue One for trying its hand (and very much succeeding) at inclusivity (also known as what diversity strives to be but can’t). This…is wildly and unanimously false.
If you’re like me, someone who has unfortunately not seen Rogue One yet (Adulthood, I despise thee), you’ve probably been hyper aware of anything remotely mentioning Rogue One. This is mostly the case because, hello, spoilers. Still, in my quest to avoid being spoiled the hell out of, I’ve noticed other things when Rogue One pops up:
Everywhere you turn, someone somewhere is laying roses at Rogue One’s feet. Someone is singing its praises. Someone is boldly proclaiming how they’ve seen it 98 times and plan to see it a 99th. The hype is inescapable (as it should be).
Despite the film’s obvious problems with omitting women of color (a history the Star Wars franchise knows all to well) and falling into The Interracial Hug Trap™ like action and sci-fi movies before it, Rogue One seemed to know exactly what it was doing with men of color and particularly did well in actually utilizing—rather than tokenizing—AAPI representation.
The latter point obviously does not make up for the exceedingly dry and scarce representation for AAPI folx in 2016 (since I’ve already seen Whit—I mean mainstream publications claim this about Rogue One and Moana as if they are both monolithic), but it was something to note. And was celebrated as such.
Don’t believe me? Here are just a few examples:
See? It was celebrated. Thoroughly. And continues to be. And if you have any doubts about that, why don’t you check those box office receipts as of late (what was that? You mean Rogue One has clocked in over 800 million? Oh) and then come back and try to talk some cash.
So with this being the case, what value does Derrickson’s statement have now that it’s been proven false? Well, it kind of clues us in on three things:
1. Scott Derrickson obviously does not associate with more people of color than he can count on one hand.
2. Derrickson, who is still in the super dog house with many Sci-Fi fans of color, thought he could talk some quick cash about “praising” Rogue One—while shading “online activists” (I see that him typing “fucking sjws” would have been too on the nose) and grab an ally cookie while he was at it.
3. Derrickson’s statement about praise meaning more than criticism shows us that a. he is still salty about being dragged over Doctor Strange (I’m petty, I know, but he started it) and b. he does not understand how improving artistry works.
The former point is a given for a variety of reasons. I mean, if Derrickson was really about that life, would it have taken entire AAPI fan and Blerd communities to point out that maybe he should have simply genderbent The Ancient One into an Asian woman rather than Whitewash the role entirely?
That one friend (even though it wouldn’t have been their job) would have told Derrickson to swerve back in his lane and we might have avoided the entire incident. But since folx like him like to surround themselves in echo chambers of Whiteness, that was never going to happen.
So for him to come back and pretend that he is the ultimate ally for “diversity” does seem rather weird and disingenuous to me. But…it’s not uncommon.
I mean, people of color are not strangers to White folx trying to take the heat of off a transgression that they have committed by pointing out the “awesome” things that they have done in the so-called name of “diversity”. I mean, Ol’ Discount Cate Blanchett™—I mean Tilda Swinton—did it when she unscrupulously hit Margaret Cho up and wanted to know why everyone was mad about her taking the role of The Ancient One. Instead of Swinton simply listening to what Cho had to say, Swinton HAD TO point out that she was producing an upcoming film starring Steven Yeun.
And, you know, her.
Besides that habit being very much eye-roll-inducing, it also shows the propensity of folx like Swinton and Derrickson to do the barest minimum and expect praise for it (frankly, I am still not quite sure what Derrickson even wants praise for. Doctor Strange isn’t getting the same praise or box office receipts as Rogue One, so…)
Just praise. No criticism…because that would be so rude, and so not nice, and so not as effective.
And speaking of criticism, lemme just explain why Derrickson’s notion about praise being more effective thank criticism is a crock of bullshit.
Here’s the thing. Whether people like it or not? Criticism makes art better.
I mean…think about it. If I, the artist (or the creator), is routinely getting my ass kissed by you, the fan (or the patron), what is my motivation for improving myself or my art? What do I gain from pushing the limits of my skills to build up my art? I mean, if you are just going to praise me for being mediocre anyway, what is the point of actually trying?
See? That’s the slippery slope that happens. Without criticism, you get a whole bunch of mediocre art and mediocre artists who show no capacity for growth and bristle at the thought of even some slight criticism. Yeah, yeah, yeah, praise is nice and dandy…but it’s only effective if it’s reinforcing something GOOD or something that you have done WELL.
Praise is not effective when it comes to mediocre work. In fact, praises would only reinforce mediocre work and create a sense of complacency. There needs to be a balance. Where there is praise, there has to be criticism and neither of these things, contrary to popular belief, are bad.
Yet, that can be hard to understand when you are Derrickson and have probably been brought up in that echo chamber you love so much. That’s what happens when you assumed you were the [privileged] majority. You tend to get a wee bit fragile when anyone who doesn’t look like you calls you out.
What folx who act like this don’t understand is that you aren’t going to learn diddly squat if you continue to flock to voices who only agree with you.
Criticism is necessary.
From critics and so-called “online activists” alike.
If you don’t think that or want that, then I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it is very possible that you are in the wrong profession. And if that’s the case…I don’t know what to tell you dude.
And if it is the criticism from the “online activists” that you really take umbrage with, I got some news for you:
It’s gonna get worse…for you.
As the world is getting less and less White and film, television, and media critics are beginning to reflect more of the same, if you fail to adapt your homogenous art to actual, inclusive standards, criticism is gonna be the least of your problems.
So it’d be wise to kill that echo chamber and expand your teeny tiny circle. Make space for diverse voices that look and sound nothing like yours. Or…risk them making space for themselves…without you. As well as despite you.
Images From: Entertainment Weekly, Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki, Zimbio, Popkey.co, Glee Wikia, Giphy