Quickies

Quickies: The Assumed Whiteness of Characters, the Wrongness of that Nicki Minaj Profile, and the Problems with the “Gay Gene” Study

  • Is Hermione Granger White? – “Most of us assume that Hermione is white because she is never presented as a racial other. In Western culture, white is the “neutral” race. Rowling is silent about Hermione’s race, and we interpret that silence as default whiteness.”
  • Dark-skinned Playmobil pirate-ship doll wearing ‘slave collar’ ignites outrage – ” ‘Newsflash, Playmobil: this is the 21st century. People of African descent have contributed to mankind in a myriad of ways that existed outside of the disgusting institution of the slave trade. Selling children’s toys that are suggestive of slavery in play is obscene, even moreso given the marked absence of diversity in your entire toy line.’ “
  • Everything is Wrong with Vanessa Grigoriadis’s Interview and Profile of Nicki Minaj – “There are so many problems with the tone and language of this piece that it’s hard to focus on just one aspect of it, instead I’ll be addressing several of my major concerns: her problematic framing of the Minaj/Swift/Cyrus beef, her lackadaisical engagement with feminism, and her trivializing of Nicki Minaj’s personal experiences.” From Courtney.
  • Rethinking History Class on Columbus Day – “The importance of exposing students to the many truths about the controversial explorer.”
  • In Texas, Being Poor is a Crime – “People in Texas get thrown behind bars just because they can’t afford their traffic tickets. That’s a disaster for people who are already struggling. It’s also completely against the law.”
  • No, Scientists Have Not Found the ‘Gay Gene’ – “The problems begin with the size of the study, which is tiny. The field of epigenetics is littered with the corpses of statistically underpowered studies like these, which simply lack the numbers to produce reliable, reproducible results.” From Will.
  • The Doomed Effort to Make Videos go Vinyl – “Few people even remember that such a medium as vinyl movies existed, but for a brief, doomed period in the early 1980s, home video was available on CEDs. While CED players were not released to consumers until 1981, the development of the system dates back to the 1960s. The idea was that they could encode sound and video information to a vinyl disc if they could only get the grooves small enough.”

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Mary

Mary

Mary Brock is a scientist who works on drugs you've hopefully never heard of. She enjoys cooking to Blue Grass music, messing with her cats, and hosting the Boston Skeptics' Book Club. She was born in the South but loves living in New England (despite the lack of chocolate chip pizza). Mary does not use Twitter and don't even try to follow her, because she is always looking over her shoulder.

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6 Comments

  1. October 12, 2015 at 10:45 am —

    Mary,

    Here are some really good videos on how horrible Columbus really was.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FBUEfdPDOQ

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zzi1cfO4YaI

    I really think we shouldn’t be celebrating “Columbus Day.”

  2. October 12, 2015 at 11:17 am —

    While you can read Hermione Granger as a person of color, you can’t give Rowling any credit for diversity if you so choose. As mentioned, white’s the default; you need to make it clear somehow. With Su Li and Cho Chang, it’s the name that’s a giveaway. With Kingsley Shacklebolt, his race is explicitly mentioned.

    Similarly, since nobody actually mentions Dumbledore’s sexuality and it’s only referenced via extremely oblique and opaque means, Rowling gets less credit for homosexual representation than a queerbaiting sitcom.

  3. October 12, 2015 at 12:45 pm —

    There’s an evil flip side to the assumed whiteness as well. I remember a blog commenter, after the first Lord of the Rings movie was released, who said that Samwise Gamgee had been horribly miscast. The poster felt that since he was Frodo’s gardener and footman, and he spoke very simply, he was supposed to be black.

    Sigh.

    • October 12, 2015 at 5:45 pm —

      Weatherwax,

      So someone was actually idiotic enough, and racist enough to assume that servants and the uneducated always have to be black, and their wealthy employer always have to be white, even in a fantasy realm?

  4. October 13, 2015 at 1:35 am —

    We want our pirates to be positive role models? Piracy was a capital offence, and routinely involved slave-taking and mass murder.

    Can we whip up some outrage on that point?

    We don’t have conquistador play sets, and people don’t support the weird, ahistorical notion of ‘cowboys and indians’ anymore either.

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