Friday, December 31, 2010

Indigenous Peoples in Late-Twentieth Century Science Fiction Television: Is There a Place for ‘’Indians” in Our Visions of the Future?

The last of the research projects I worked on this semester!  :)

     I undertook this project because science fiction television in general and the shows analyzed specifically were formative influences in my life.  Watching the original Star Trek movie franchise or Star Trek: The Next Generation on television was a family activity and facilitated bonding between my father, my younger brother and I.  As I grew older, the X-Files encouraged me to think critically about the world around me and reinforced my suspicion of authority and those in power.  In particular I recall being fascinated by the episodes which dealt with Native American characters and themes; a fascination I have discovered since is echoed by many white fans, often in a way that echoes the worst of colonialist narratives.  In this way, investigating these portrayals in the television shows of my youth is a kind of personal exorcism; a bringing to light what I would rather keep in shadow (Jung 145).  But while my stakes in this project may be personal, the implications reach beyond me to the very function of science fiction in the social imaginary; as a space where we collectively consider and entertain ideas of what a better world might look like.  Misappropriated, this space instead aids the genocide of Indigenous people, a process which I must argue has been furthered by the texts examined herein.
     Science fiction stories are tales of the possible.  Fantasy operates in a similar space, but fantasy often presupposes the intervention of the fantastic or supernatural to facilitate its reimagining; whereas science fiction (especially in the case of Star Trek) more often looks to the future.  Science fiction stories also always operate within a uniquely constructed universe with well defined rules; necessitating conscious choices about the state of that universe (Johnson-Smith 19-20).  Whereas we (as audience) know that many of the elements of fantasy which make it so appealing do not really exist,[1] we know that the future will happen someday and that how the future will look is undetermined, leaving much room for creativity and possibility, and, perhaps, social justice.  This potential within science fiction for imaging the world as one would remake it subsequently makes the sexism, racism, heteronormativity and cisnormativity[2] (just to name a few common tropes) all the more glaring. 
     However, these tropes are glaring only if one is able to see them at all, which is not always the case.  Too often the bigotry disseminated through science fiction is invisible to the “mainstream”[3] audience because that bigotry echoes the webs of power the audience already considers normal.  That so often science fiction writers cannot think beyond these tropes (while simultaneously selling a product to their audience that is purportedly a utopian reimagining) and that these writers so often manage to succeed in maintaining this contradiction in the minds of the audience (and in the cases of the studied texts become wildly successful by doing so) is a testament to the power of hegemony, a power I hope this investigation will undermine.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Rant rant rant

I haven't posted a pure rant here in... ages.  Some little off the cuff thing.  Those have increasingly gone on Tumblr.  This started there but I thought, why not, see what the wider world thinks too...

You know, people talk about how always “having discussions with people who agree with you” is some kind of bad thing. And they don’t usually even apply it to like, “people who agree with you on EVERYTHING” (ARE there any of those??) but just seem to mean “people with similar political/social philosophies”.

Increasingly, I’m like, fuck that.

It’s so fucking FRUSTRATING having conversations with people who aren’t at least on a similar wavelength. It’s the SAME FUCKING CONVERSATION OVER AND OVER!
Explaining the same basic shit over and over and arguing about it!

Explaining that racism is a systemic thing.  Explaining that gender isn't just what your doctor assigned to you.  Explaining that violence is something beyond just violent crime statistics.  On and on....

It’s me, well in this case me, fucking giving that person an education they don’t fucking appreciate and me never getting anything out of it but honing my rhetoric.*

Deepest, best, most challenging conversations I’ve EVER HAD were with people with SIMILAR foundations/starting points discussing the nuances and challenges and YES DISAGREEMENTS we had about topics.


And you know, I could use more of THAT and less of this frustrating bullshit.

*With the exception of people with whom I am mutually invested through friendship.  Because that also invests us in trying to understand where the other is coming from, something the conversations I'm talking about generally totally lack.  And that investment is, I think, similar to what you have between people who are working towards/from a similar place as you.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Word to the Wise" - White Antiracism's White Supremacy

"When grassroots Black activists speak honestly about racism at colleges across this country, we are not met with open arms by administrators and faculty. And most certainly our calendars are not full for the rest of the year let alone for the next three to five. When we speak, we are often met by the deaf ear of white denial. When Tim Wise speaks, he gets applause, standing ovations, awards and proclamations. The fact that schools can’t “hear” us when I and other people of color speak but will search out and roll out the red carpet for Wise is a statement to a kind of racism that doesn’t get discussed much – if at all – in our work. Despite all of the white anti-racist presentations given over the years at colleges and universities across the country, institutional racism at these schools remains intact. All the while, activists of color continue to be muffled and marginalized. Even in the ghetto of race discourse we remain tenants and never owners of an analysis that is ours to begin with"
Read it all: Word to the Wise: Unpacking the White Privilege of Tim Wise

The only thing I would add to the discussion is that there is very little in the way of gender analysis in this piece.  I know from experience that anti-racist white men, like Tim Wise, receive quite a different reception to anti-racist white women, particularly in the example given of being able to show emotion.  

I don't say this to dispute anything in the essay, just to point out that it is definitely centering White men/Black men.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ghost Stories in the Borderlands: Explorations of Fantasmas with Gloria Anzaldúa as a Guide

Another of the big research projects I worked on this semester.  I was really inspired by the way Gloria Anzaldúa writes and very much wanted this project to reflect that mixture of academic theory and personal and creative that she did so very well.  Overall, I am pretty pleased with the results, some of which will be familiar.

The form says
Choose one:
White (Non-Hispanic)

Choose one.

The mind whirls with what I will choose this time.

I cannot tell you when, where or how old I was the first time I stared at whatever form it was asking me this question and decided
“fuck it”
and checked both applicable boxes.
But I remember that moment.

It is a moment that has been repeated many times over,
but I swear I remember the very first one. 
I remember it in my bones.  
I remember how I felt; I remember my conviction, and my defiance.
And I remember when my conviction wavered. 
“Choose one. Multiple answers will not be counted.” 

I remember choosing White. 
I remember, less often, choosing “Hispanic.” 
Once or twice Other or “Mixed.”

I have filled out this form so many times in my life and every time is a re-run of the first;
anxiety, annoyance, anger, amusement.

Amusement that these form writers cannot conceive of me.
Anger that they demand I choose between what their small minds can fathom.
Anxiety that I will simply be left uncounted.
Annoyance that I have to think through so much just to check a box truthfully.

I remember the first time I saw a form that didn’t ask me to choose one.
Eyes widening.  Small smile. FINALLY.

Such a little thing. 
But I am always acutely aware of the people around me who fly through this thing that stops me dead in my tracks.

Such a little thing, to cause such turmoil.
Such a small thing to think about all these years.
Such a little thing, but these are borderlands too.
Those forms confront my difference.
Those forms demand an answer.
Those forms divide me, cut me up into parts.

How much for the one quarter of Mexican blood and bones?
How much for the Spanish?
How much for la india?

How much for the-who-knows-how-much Irish?

How much for the over fifty percent German?

How much for the Norwegian?
The Scottish?
The English?

Hell, there are Smiths everywhere, who knows for sure just where I came from?

Always an image in my mind’s eye of my naked body with that black pen plastic surgeons use to show people where and how they will be cutting them; black ink dividing me into my respective pieces or at least the ones I know.

Black lines
reappearing anytime I overhear the Spanish I don’t speak,
or the insults it is imagined won’t offend a white person.

Colonizer and colonized.
Both. Together.
I feel them glaring warily at each other over the borders of blood and bones inside me.[1]

The borderlands are a blurred together place; a place where worlds interact and overlap.    While on a map borders are solid black lines, this representation does not reflect the reality of the borderlands.  This is because borders are constructed.  The borders I find myself grappling with in trying to fill out a form honestly are a reflection of this construction.  The nature of the “immigration debate” within the United States is another reflection; wherein people who have lived in the same place for generations are deemed “immigrant” and “illegal” when literal borders are redrawn and cultural borders exclude “them” from being an “us.” 
     Yet, construction does not make the borderlands less real for the people who live there.  Borders create material effects on those who live within and upon them.  Borders delineate the boundaries of identity; they only make sense if they divide what something “is” from what that same something “is not.”  Thus, the United States is the United States in part because it is not Mexico.  Mexicans within and a part of the United States blur that boundary; challenge that (White) United States identity.  And yet, despite the lines on a map, Mexicans are within the borders of the United States, and White Americans (corporations) are within the borders of Mexico. 
     Although boundaries are constructed to keep these two groups separate, they are not separate.  That is the nature of the borderlands.  That is why (in part) Gloria Anzaldúa uses the United States and Mexico border as symbol for the myriad borderlands we as human beings must negotiate every day; because it is “a place where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds. And before a scab forms it hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country” (Borderlands/La Frontera 25).  The borderlands will make hybrids of us, she says, and suggests that instead of fighting that process that we embrace it and allow it to heal us our divisions by coming to a mestiza consciousness (Anzaldúa, Borderlands 101-102).  Like the Spanglish Anzaldúa speaks: pieces of Spanish, pieces of English, pieces of Nahuatl, brought together into a new something; “greater than the sum of its parts” (Anzaldúa, Borderlands 101).
     This coming together is also one of the functions of the magical realism present in Johnson’s Fantasmas, and it is no mere coincidence that these “type” of tales are also commonly referred to as “border stories” (Sellman).  As a technique of story-telling, magical realism lives in the borderlands; a place in which “[writers] make connections between the material and spiritual world” (Johnson xi) in rejection of the “white rationality” that is touted by mainstream society as desired and true (Anzaldúa, Borderlands 58).  In particular, the collection of stories in Fantasmas occupies a borderlands space “between worlds,” as well as within the literal border towns of American Chicano/as.  In this essay, I argue that selected stories from Fantasmas use their “borderland” location to articulate new ways of understanding and being within the world.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Poetry just keeps coming out when I sit down to write this paper

So here's some more (also because Cecelia said I should. <3).
Tentatively titled "Samhain de los Muertos".

Dia de los Muertos
Also Samhain to me

Days that the Veil between the worlds grows thin
As so many cultures knew
As the Ancestors demand we remember
If we can hear them
If we listen

The smell of sage floats through the air
Candles flickering
Illuminating so much more than their small flames should
Like stars in the sky

Fotos, food, and flowers
Holiday(s) you never taught me to celebrate
A day I honor you anyway
And the ever increasing others on your side of the veil

Monday, December 13, 2010

Review: "Indian" Stereotypes in TV Science Fiction: First Nations' Voices Speak Out

"Indian" Stereotypes in TV Science Fiction: First Nations' Voices Speak Out"Indian" Stereotypes in TV Science Fiction: First Nations' Voices Speak Out by Sierra S. Adare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very intriguing study for any who are interested in the depictions of native peoples in science fiction television. This is not a highly "theoretical" book, but a study of every day First Nations people's responses to depictions supposedly of themselves in 7 specific episodes of science fiction television (including one original Star Trek episode, one Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, two Star Trek: Voyager episodes, one episode of My Favorite Martian, one of Quantum Leap and one of The Adventures of Superman). The only thing that would have made this book better in my view is if they had included one or two of the X-Files episodes that revolved around native characters/themes etc.

View all my reviews

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Freewrite on idea of borderlands ala Anzaldua

Choose one:
White (Non-Hispanic)

These are my borderlands.
Choose one.
And the mind whirls with what I will choose this time.
I cannot tell you when, where or how old I was the first time I stared at whatever form it was asking me this question and decided “fuck it” and checked both applicable boxes.
But I remember that moment. That is a moment that has been repeated many times over, but I swear I remember the very first one somehow.
I remember it in my bones, I remember how I felt, I remember my conviction, and my defiance.
And I remember when my conviction wavered. “Choose one. Multiple answers will not be counted.”
I remember choosing White. I remember, less often, choosing “Hispanic.” Once or twice Other or “Mixed.”
I have filled out this form so many times in my life and every time is a re-run of the first; anxiety, annoyance, anger, amusement. 
Amusement that these form writers cannot conceive of me. Anger that they demand I choose between what their small minds can fathom. Anxiety that I will simply be left uncounted. Annoyance that I have to think through so much just to check a box truthfully.
I remember the first time I saw a form that didn’t ask me to choose one. Eyes widening. Small smile. Surprise. FINALLY.
Such a little thing. Always so aware of the people around me who flew through this portion that stops me dead in my tracks. Such a little thing, to cause such turmoil. Such a small thing to think about all these years.
Such a little thing, but these are my borderlands. Those forms confront my difference. Those forms demand an answer. Those forms divide me, cut me up into parts.
How much for the one quarter of Mexican blood and bones? How much for the Spanish? How much for la india?
How much for the-who-knows-how-much Irish?
How much for the over fifty percent German?
How much for the English? The Scottish? The Norwegian?
Hell, there are Smiths everywhere, who knows for sure just where I came from?
Always an image in my mind’s eye of my body with that black pen plastic surgeons use to show people where and how they will be cutting them; black ink dividing me into my respective pieces or at least the ones I know. Reappearing with little warning anytime I overhear the Spanish I don’t speak; or when I overhear insults it is imagined won’t offend another white person.
Colonizer and colonized. I feel those divisions glaring warily at each other within my very body.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wizard Rock: "Renting" a Room In J. K. Rowling's Hogwarts

This semester I wrote three big research papers.  This is one of them.  You got a bit of a preview last month but here is the final product.  It's a large post so I am putting in a cut!

Wizard Rock (or “wrock”) is a largely unknown genre dedicated to the creation of music based upon J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series.  In this essay I argue that wrock is a unique metaculture which operates as a form of “participatory/productive consumption” (Oakes).  However, while Harry Potter has been of great interest for some years now, very little has been written about Wizard Rock in popular culture, and nothing in the academic realm.  Thus, I am faced with the reality that my readers will most likely have no previous knowledge of my topic, making discussion difficult without some little amount of background and elucidation of form and content.  In addition, as noted by Rebekah Farrugia, there is a troubling pattern in music cultures of overlooking the active participation of women, which repeats itself within wrock (336).  I wish to intervene in that process here.  It is for these reasons that I will begin this essay with a brief definition of wrock and history of the formation of the Wizard Rock community.

In general, a wrock song will be written about events or characters from the Harry Potter universe, most often from the perspective of a character the book-reading audience is already familiar with.  It is the nature of the content that defines a song as Wizard Rock, rather than a specific “sound” to the music in question.  This construction of the genre is what leads me to name this a form of “productive/participatory consumption,” a term originally coined by Jason Oakes to describe tribute events.  Also called “participatory literacy” by Ernie Bond and Nancy Michelson in reference to fan fiction (119), the essence of these concepts is the idea that “consumers” of culture also sometimes carve out their own spaces within it, or “co-author” it.  This process will be illustrated more fully later in this essay. This organization of the genre means one can find any “sound” in wrock; from pop, trance and “wreggae,” to folk, metal and hip hop.

Tracing the history of wrock chronologically[1] the genre was born with “Ode to Harry” by the Switchblade Kittens (Drama) which was released in 2000.  Switchblade Kittens would perform this song in an alternate onstage wrock incarnation called “The Weird Sisters.”  They made this and other early forays into what would become Wizard Rock available to their diehard fans through the internet (Drama).[2]  Unfortunately, Switchblade Kittens were never able to release an album of their wrock songs because the major record label which housed them could not be convinced of its market potential and they were unable contractually to release anything independently (Drama)

Two years after the release of “Ode to Harry,” in 2002, Harry and the Potters began to tour with a self-titled, independently produced debut album; and we officially have our first wrock band.  Other newly emerging wrock bands were predominantly friends of the members of Harry and the Potters,[3] but a general snowball effect quickly emerged (Wizrocklopedia).  In all “over 20 [bands] were created before the end of the year” (Wizrocklopedia), mostly in a similar “indie” or “garage” rock style (in contrast with the “L.A. pop sensibility” of the Switchblade Kittens (Drama)).  Currently, there are over five hundred Wizard rock bands, representing almost every mainstream genre “sound,” and large annual Wizard Rock themed events such as “Wrockstock.”[4]

Monday, December 06, 2010

Stuff I'm reading: "For America to Live, Europe Must Die"

I detest writing.:
"Revolutionary Marxism is committed to even further perpetuation and perfection of the very industrial process which is destroying us all. It offers only to 'redistribute' the results - the money, maybe - of this industrialization to a wider section of the population. It offers to take wealth from the capitalists and pass it around; but in order to do so, Marxism must maintain the industrial system. Once again, the power relations with European society will have to be altered, but once again the effects upon American Indian peoples here and non-Europeans elsewhere will remain the same."

A small piece of a speech from the '80's by Russel Means, an American Indian activist.  Go check it out, stuff to think about.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2010 - California

Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance.  It is a day when we take a moment out of our lives to memorialize the trans people lost this year to (overwhelmingly cissexual) bigotry and violence.  As with previous years most of these victims of violence are women of color; women who live their lives at the intersections of identities which this society too often puts no value on.

I'm not in a great headspace for writing today, but there it is.  And if you are cisgender or cissexual, you should probably take the time to read this post.

Below you will find events going on today and tomorrow in California.  I apologize for not getting this post out sooner, I didn't realize that quite a few cities would be celebrating yesterday instead of today.  If you are able, go out and show the world or at least your town that you will not forget.

Eureka, California
Will be holding a Transgender day of Remembrance event
on Saturday, November 20, 2010
4:00pm Vigil at Eureka Courthouse
5:00pm Dinner at The Alibi in Eureka
Fresno, California
will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 5:00 pm
at the Wesley United Methodist Church
(In the John Wesley Hall)
1343 E. Barstow Ave. (Barstow & 4th)
For more information see or call (559) 255-4075.
Riverside, California
Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at the University of California, Riverside.
with a display memorial to commemorate each of the 400 known victims of transgender related violence. This memorial will be posted outside of the Highlander Union Building all week. The LGBTRC (245 Costo Hall) will have more information available about transgender identities. We invite everyone to come check out this powerful display against hatred and violence.
Santa Barbara, California
Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 6:00 pm
on the steps to the sunken garden at the Santa Barbara
County Courthouse on the corner of Anacapa and Anapamu
Streets in Santa Barbara, CA
Everyone is welcome.
San Diego, California
will be hosting our Transgender Day of Remembrance
on Saturday November 20,2010 at 6pm
There will be a candlelight march at 6pm, leaving from the
San Diego LGBT Community Center, followed by a Program f
rom 7-8 pm at the Center.
The Center is located at 3909 Centre St, San Diego, CA 92103.
Light Refreshments to follow the program.
All are welcome and encouraged to attend.
San Jose, California
will be hosting our Transgender Day of Remembrance
on Saturday November 20,2010 at 6:00 pm
at the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center on the Alameda in San Jose.
San Jose, California
will be hosting our Transgender Day of Remembrance
on Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 6:00 pm
at the MCC San Jose, located on
484 East San Fernando St..
Sacramento, California
Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 6:30 PM
at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
2620 Capital Avenue, Sacramento, CA. 95816
San Francisco, California
Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
On Saturday, November 20, 2010 from 6:00 – 10:00pm
Start outside of San Francisco City Hall steps @ 6PM
7:30 to 8PM – Street march through the Tenderloin and towards
Ark of Refuge (1025 Howard St.); 8 to 10PM – Trans Community
Celebration @ Ark of Refuge (food, entertainment, music)
Santa Cruz, California
Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
on Saturday, November 20, 2010 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm
at The Diversity Center of Santa Cruz
1117 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz CA 95062
ASL and Spanish interpreters provided, Family friendly.
Contact Tara for more information/accessibility concerns:
San Luis Obispo, California
Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 5:00 PM.
Location to be announced (probably Mitchell Park)
Music by Namoli Brennet.
Stockton, California
Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
on Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm
Stribley Community Center Gymnasium
1760 E. Sonora Street
Stockton, CA 95205
Keynote Speaker: Rev. Vicky Kolakowski, Esq.
For directions or for more information, please contact Elena Kelly
at (209) 649-0396, or
West Hollywood, California
Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
at 1:30 pm at West Hollywood City Hall,
8300 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
followed by a stroll over to Matthew Shepard Triangle for
speeches and programming until 4pm.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

An update on Oscar Grant's Murderer and the Protests Which Followed: Newsflash, the OPD is Still Fucked Up

So Friday night a friend of mine was arrested at the protests against Police Brutality in response to the verdict in the Johannes Mehserle case (a pitiful 2 years with time taken out for time already served).  I was on the outside trying to get whatever information about her that I could to friends and family (social networking was extremely helpful here, friends and family communicated on Facebook while I gathered info via Twitter and on the latter point I owe a big thank you to Mark who managed to get info from the Sheriff's office that was invaluable, THANK YOU!).

While I could not have possibly been more polite on the phone I was treated with extreme rudeness and condescension by the person I spoke with.  This echoes other experiences my husband and I have had with the Oakland PD, who apparently think it is perfectly OK to be pissed off with someone who is requesting them to perform the duties they are paid to perform.

Well, apparently it only gets worse if they are forced to respond to something as extraordinary as a protest march (/sarcasm).  Just as in the July protests (and with even LESS provocation) the Oakland PD decided the best thing to do in this situation was to force a confrontation with largely peaceful protesters and in many cases treat them with extreme disrespect.

But don't take my word for it!  Listen to someone who was on the inside.

A sample:
This process (of even getting us into the cars) took an hour. The man cuffed in front of me had a renal liver issue, and was about to pass out. The police offer partnered with him was informed of this, and refused to steady him or allow him to sit. He then started to collapse and was allowed to temporarily sit on the ground.
Throughout this process, police were making countless jokes to each other about us, and directly to our faces, including laughing hysterically as they told us that we were all being booked on felonies, an outright lie that they knew was a lie as they had already filled out our booking papers with the misdemeanor of “unlawful assembly.” As water bottles were passed out to the police, many of us requested water. Not only were we were refusedeven those of us with medical conditions, but a policeman near me even poured out a bottle of water on the ground in front of someone who had requested water, and laughed in the person’s face.
When I was finally put into a paddy wagon with 12 others, the driver deliberately drove in an erratic and irresponsible manner, slamming on the brakes suddenly for no reason and swerving just to make us bounce around and hit the hard sides. It was the single most nauseating ride of my life, and that’s no coincidence.
Read it all: Police Brutality at the Oscar Grant Protest on November 5th, 2010

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Thoughts on two Problematic Wizard Rock Songs

As most of you probably already know, I am currently working on a number of research projects this semester.  One has to do with Wizard Rock, a music genre of which I am rather fond and find really interesting.  Below is an edited portion of the paper I am writing.  Constructive critique is welcome, and please excuse the slightly more academic-y style than usual.

It's interesting to me that despite spending a significant amount of time Googling, I can find no criticism of the two songs I want to talk about today.  Wizard Rock as a subculture has always been, as far as I can tell, very visible and present on the internet and usually even within semi-obscure subcultures like this one there is at least a couple people engaging critically with what they love.

I guess I am going to be that person, for now. Anyone else doing this sort of thing would be a welcome contribution to my research, please link in comments!

I was disappointed (though of course, not surprised) to find that even with all the good this medium does in for a time centering marginalized characters, themes, and identities, it does not "magically" exist outside of negative US and UK social discourses.  In fact, instead, wizard rock sometimes replicates these marginalizing discourses, of which I have two examples.  Both songs come from bands who I regularly hear praised on the wrock podcasts and blogs as “brilliant” and “amazing.”  

First, we have “Ginny Gets Around” by Gred and Forge, which describes Ginny Weasley’s dating adventures from the perspective of her brothers Fred and George Weasley (which the band name is a play on).  This song is entirely independent of the content of the Harry Potter novels, which carries no hint that Fred and George disapprove of Ginny’s dating. 

There are scenes in the novels where Ginny's brother Ron Weasley becomes very upset at witnessing his sister “snogging” her boyfriend Dean Thomas (Rowling 287 - 288), his reaction in the book is clearly complicated by multiple factors, which is quite different from the straight forward perspective of the song.

The first one we noticed was Harry
But we didn’t mind
We didn’t say a word ’cause
You were still playing with fairies
Chasing garden gnomes
And putting Bill’s earring in your nose
But we should’ve paid attention
‘Cause now everybody says…

CHORUS: From Gryffindor to Ravenclaw
That Ginny gets around
Oh, Ginny gets around
From Hufflepuff to Slytherin
That Ginny gets around
She’s the easiest girl in school

Then Michael Corner, he tickled your fancy
He got in your pants, he
Was such a sore loser
And Dean Thomas was such a pansy
And very hand-sy
With his arms all over you, sis
Now we’ve started to pay attention
‘Cause we hear everyone say


And now you’re back to Harry
But we think that’s O.K.
We wouldn’t mind if you married
Then no one else could say… 


Apparently for this particular “incarnation” of Fred and George Weasley, Ginny’s dating habits and “good reputation” are of quite a bit of importance.  And for the Wizard Rocker[1] who wrote the song, slut shaming[2] Ginny Weasley is apparently a source of comedy.  Only marrying her off like a proper “good girl” to the hero of the novels (or within the novels, the hero of the entire world) seemingly will stop the mockery.  This reification of misogynistic patriarchal norms certainly runs counter to the subversive power I have at other times observed in this genre.

In a similar vein is the song “Choko Ono” by The Moaning Myrtles, a band I've seen unabashedly praised even more widely than Gred and Forge.[3]  In this case the target of the song is Cho Chang, a semi-prominent side character who Harry dates briefly.  However, the “device” used to attack Chang is her resemblance to Yoko Ono from the perspective of the character Moaning Myrtle[4] as imagined by the artists.[5]  In this song’s scenario, Myrtle believes that Harry must secretly love her and is only settling for the “second best” Cho Chang. 

When you really like someone
and your chance with them is close to none
Your next best shot’s to find someone
who’s just like them
If a gal reminds you of
the lucky girl you really love

Let’s face it,
I bet you won’t even notice
Now I’ve seen you with poor Cho
and I feel bad because I know
there’s no way that you actually like her

Honestly this girl just cries
because her gorgeous boyfriend died
There’s gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta
be some other better reason

Oh, Cho, oh, no
You see, I understand
Harry actually likes me, sorry, that’s how it goes
Oh, Cho, oh, no
Get away from my man
You’re just getting in the way
You’re my Yoko Ono
Choko Ono–you’re breaking up the band

This scenario is even less consistent with the Harry Potter canon than Gred and Forge’s admonishment of Ginny’s sex life; there is simply no corollary whatsoever to Ono’s frequent accused action of “breaking up the Beatles” with the idea that Cho somehow “stole Myrtle’s man [Harry].”  While there are hints in the book that Moaning Myrtle possibly has a crush on Harry Potter, there are also indications that her behavior stems more from the fact that she simply likes to behave in a way that vexs people.  Still, what the “breaking up the band” reference could possibly be talking about, I cannot fathom.

As with “Ginny Gets Around” there are not so veiled misogynistic elements to “Choko Ono,” directly related to Cho Chang’s expression of her sexuality.  However, there is also an element of racism here that I do not believe can be ignored.  While the song does not make any explicitly racist claims, it relies on racist social tropes which have and continue to demonize Yoko Ono as a Japanese woman partnered with an immensely popular public figure.  Ono's racial Otherness was and is portrayed as dangerous and used as a reason why John Lennon should not have been with her in the first place, thus creating an implicit parallel with the Asian[7] British Cho partnered with our leading man, Harry.  

Another disturbing element to this song is the title, an allusion to enacting violence[8] against female sexual rivals.  As there is quite literally an epidemic of violence against women both in the UK (where the Harry Potter series originates) and in the US (where The Moaning Myrtles originate), an allusion like this one is truly disturbing, and certainly not at all conducive to the “light-hearted” air the song attempts to embody.

[1] Billed as a multi-piece band it is one man named Jarrod behind this music (Gred and Forge).
[2] Here defined as: “shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings. Furthermore, it’s “about the implication that if a woman has sex that traditional society disapproves of, she should feel guilty and inferior” (Alon Levy).” (Tekanji)
[3] In fact they were ranked 7th for top Wizard Rock bands by MTV. (Vineyard)
[4] So named because she spends her afterlife (she is a ghost) haunting the lavatories of Hogwarts crying and complaining endlessly to anyone who will listen because she was mocked and teased while she was a living Hogwarts student.
[5] A pair of young women named Lauren and Nina (The Moaning Myrtles).
[6] This is a representative excerpt from the song, not the song in its entirety.
[7] Cho Chang’s exact ethnicity is never specified.
[8] To be absolutely clear this is pronounced in the song “choke-oh.”

Sunday, October 31, 2010

An online Remembrance Ritual for Samhain from The Jaded Hippy

As the witching hour draws close here on the West coast I just want to wish everyone a happy Samhain and a happy Halloween. I hope you all had a lovely day and kept yourselves safe.

Welcome to the Ancestors.  Welcome to the Spirits of the Honored Dead.  Welcome to those we have Lost; we think of you often.  Walk amongst us once again.   An offering of incense and brightly burning candles welcome you home, even if just for a visit.

We remember you.

And in that remembrance you live always.







And those who went before, whose names I never knew, whose blood flows in my veins or spirit flows through my family, my life.

I remember.

Image: Two wick flames in the dark burn in a twisting, melting candle of red.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Must Read: Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law

Last year, two men showed up in Benson, Ariz., a small desert town 60 miles from the Mexico border, offering a deal.

Glenn Nichols, the Benson city manager, remembers the pitch.

"The gentleman that's the main thrust of this thing has a huge turquoise ring on his finger," Nichols said. "He's a great big huge guy and I equated him to a car salesman."

What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants.

"They talk [about] how positive this was going to be for the community," Nichols said, "the amount of money that we would realize from each prisoner on a daily rate."

But Nichols wasn't buying. He asked them how would they possibly keep a prison full for years — decades even — with illegal immigrants?

"They talked like they didn't have any doubt they could fill it," Nichols said.

That's because prison companies like this one had a plan — a new business model to lock up illegal immigrants. And the plan became Arizona's immigration law.
Read the story at NPR

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bay Area Event: Cultural Encounters at the de Young

The de Young Museum hosts a yearlong series celebrating the new mural book, "Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo" contributed to by over 200 artists and writers and edited by Annice Jacoby for Precita Eyes Muralists with a foreword by Carlos Santana as part of the museum's weekly program.

This series celebrates one of San Francisco's greatest assets - the Mission District Art Community, a rising star on the global art map. Cutting-edge and Traditional street artists will offer lectures and performances, sharing their art, insights, musings, experiences and perspectives. Friday Nights at the de Young are FREE!

Art and Revolution
Centennial Commemoration of the Mexican Revolution

November 5th
6:00 PM - 8:45 PM

de Young Museum

50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA

For more information call:

(415) 285-2287 or go to

Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center
2981 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Register to Vote!

For all my California readers: We have a very big election in many local races and the state at large this year, so getting out to vote is really important!

Have you registered to vote? If you've moved or anything like that, you need to register again!

Here's a handy resource:

Monday is the last day to turn in registrations! And you should also know that even if Tuesday November 2 is an inconvenient day for you, you can vote early. And by early, I mean right now, at least for all you Alameda county people.

Alameda County, Registrar of Voters Office
1225 Fallon St. Rm. G-1
Oakland, California 94612

8:30am - 5:00pm Mon - Fri.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Blogoversary at The Jaded Hippy!

I always miss these...  But this time I actually noticed!

As of today I've been blogging publicly for three years.  A lot has happened in that time, growth and stasis and growth again.  Pain and laughter.  Bonding and ostracism.  Life, I guess.

It's been fun, and I look forward to the day when I can devote the time to it, to both the reading of others' work and the writing of my own, once again.   And for those who have been with me since very early on (I know there are a few of you) thank you for everything, the comments and encouragement and all that friend-like crap.  Thank you.

Here's to another three years. :)

Saturday, October 02, 2010

School Stuff: My Current Research Projects

Long time, no see!

So, I'm guessing if you're still here you might have some interest in what I'm doing while I'm away. Well, I had to turn in my three research project proposals recently, so I thought I'd share and let you see what I've been and will be working on...

First up...

I'm taking a class on Raza Women. For my additional project I'm going to read the book Desert Blood by Gaspar de Alba and discuss how the book intersects with what we've been discussing during the semester. As the book is on the Juarez femicides I'm guessing I'll be talking a lot about Latinas and violence; you know, happy stuff! Am pretty sure I'll find myself having to critique the book for ignoring trans Latinas, but, I'll hope for the best until proved wrong. Still, I'm planning to have to do supplemental research to talk about that in the paper.


The project I am proposing is one that will require me to research the Wizard Rock community and genre. I plan to do this through primarily internet research and the podcast WZRD, as well as by looking for documentation/discussion in film and print. The final project will consist of a paper of 15 double-spaced pages sharing my findings and analyzing them within the context of the course and our discussions of gender, race and class in popular music. It is also likely, should time permit, that I will analyze one or two songs by a Wizard Rock artist(s) as Sheila Whiteley does at times in her book.

Already since turning this project proposal in I have found in preliminary research that I might end up talking about "filk" (genre focused folk music) initially as a precursor to wrock, and that thinks like trock (TARDIS rock, aka Dr. Who themed rock music) also exist. Might have to inform her of changes as I turn more stuff in on the schedule she (professor) laid out for me.

and Last...

For my research project during this term I would like to analyze three episodes of science fiction television and their portrayal of Indigenous people; specifically, “The Paradise Syndrome” from Star Trek, “Journey’s End” from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and “The Blessing Way” from The X-Files. While the primary “object” of investigation in this project would be the way these episodes deal with race, I would approach the subject from an intersectional perspective, analyzing the way in which gender, sexuality, ability and other axes of identity as well as structures/issues of power, such as colonialism and Whiteness, complicate the projects of these episodes and their impact on the audience. At this time the questions I have are rather basic; “how are indigenous people portrayed in these episodes?” and “how have such portrayals changed over time?”

Thoughts are, of course, welcome.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Martin Luther King Jr. Quote and a Memory of Ignorance

One may well ask: How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others? The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.
- Martin Luther King Jr.
I'll never forget the day I had to tell a "room full" of people (it was online) that this was a basic tenant of civil disobedience.  That, yes, civil disobedience meant breaking laws on purpose and that yes this was a foundational part of MLK Jr.'s philosophy for the Civil Rights movement (which he got from Gandhi) (never did manage to work Bayard Rustin or basically the more complete story at all into it because, well, I couldn't even get them to go with me on the very basic fact that Gandhi and MLK had the audacity to decide they had an obligation to disobey unjust laws).

I used this very quote to prove my point when they flatly refused to believe me.

Even now, looking back on it, I'm stunned at the ignorance. Just what the fuck did they learn about this man and the Civil Rights movement in school/growing up, that they missed this???

And, wow, how thoroughly has the kyriarchy managed to sanitize his story and legacy, eh?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

More stuff that I think I should have already posted about but haven't: Fat Hate

More in this impromptu series...
[For previous editions see: More stuff that I think I should have already posted about but haven't: Racism and Stuff I think about differently now; children, feminism and more]

Did you know that I'm (generally speaking) down with fat acceptance?

To me, this seems like an especially obvious thing, but, given posts I've read, especially recently, I guess it's not as widely held as I thought!

What often goes against fat acceptance, in both feminist and non-feminist conversations, is that "fat" is inherently unhealthy.  And of course, health is important and it's something we should be talking about, right? Well, if you haven't heard this before now I am just going to say, that premise is bullshit.  (Not about "health" being important, that IS important...but more on that later...)

I have a precisely healthy BMI (right in the middle) and am by most people’s definitions “thin,” if definitely not “skinny,” and after three flights of stairs I’m breathing pretty damn heavy.

That's not really that healthy for a TAB (temporarily able bodied) person!

Which is the whole problem with equating weight ("fat") with health: because it’s quite simply NOT AN EFFECTIVE MEASUREMENT TO GENERALIZE FROM.

Quite simply, our bodies are unique and an unhealthy amount of weight on one body is not going to be an unhealthy amount of weight on another body.

If we really want to talk about health, weight shouldn’t even come into it.


Because if a person has healthy habits, and their body is carrying weight it considers “extra,” that it doesn't need, that weight will go away. If that person with healthy habits’ weight DOESN’T go away then their body thinks it needs it, so let’s assume that’s correct!  Instead of assuming we know better...than that person's own body...what they person should look like and what they need to be healthy.  Fat, for some people, is a by product of unhealthy habits.  But as with so much Western thought, we attack that by-product instead of looking to the ROOT of the issue.

The far more important question when discussing health, imo, is: do we as individuals and as a population have access to healthy habits?

Cuz what I see is that MOST of us don’t. Really don’t. We’re too goddamned tired to put in the WORK (and it is work) to make 3 healthy meals a day. We’ve not got any time (or money) to spare to "just take a walk" or go to the gym.  And we’re too goddamned poor to go to the co-op or the locavore restaurant instead of McDonald’s.  Or there are literally NO grocery stores in our neighborhood to even TRY to get healthy food.  (Just for a start... I'm sure I could come up with many more examples).

These are STRUCTURAL issues working against our health, and aren't structural issues what we as social justice people are supposed to be concerned with? Wouldn't that be a more effective strategy in the pursuit of healthier communities?  Instead of just class and/or fat shaming individuals for “letting themselves go” or whatever?

So yeah, let's get on with talking about health but let's leave the fat hate at the door, folks.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Bay Area Event: Return to Daylight - Public Reading of the Qur'an in Berkeley on September 11th

I received this via the Bay Area Women in Black today:
Please announce and spread the word.

A Florida minister, Terry Jones, together with 50 of his followers, is planning an act of religious hatred and intolerance, the public burning of copies of the Qur'an (the Muslim holy scriptures containing the words of the prophet Muhammad) on Saturday, September 11.  This hateful act has been widely condemned around the world, including by General David Petraeus, commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

In response, and as an act of religious fellowship and solidarity, people of faith here in the Bay Area are joining others across the country for an interfaith public reading of the Qur'an on the same day.  The event will take place at Ohlone Park, in Berkeley on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 at 3:15 PM.

We will meet at the corner of Sacramento and Delaware at 3:15 and together find a good spot in the park.

We shall all symbolically stand with Muslim Americans and read aloud in English parts of the Qur'an, affirming that we will not stand by silently while others perpetrate un-American acts of hate in the name of patriotism or religion.

All people -- of any faith or no faith -- are welcome to join us.  We will read and discuss the Qur'an for about 30 - 45 minutes. The official event will then end, but some of us may choose to stay and share our thoughts and feelings.

The park has facilities to entertain children while parents take part in the reading and discussion.

September 11 this year for Jews is Shabbat Shuvah, the Sabbath of returning and renewal between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  September 11th this year is also  just after the last day of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, prayer, purification, forgiveness and renewal. Materials about Ramadan will also be available for people to learn about this important Muslim observance.  Please join us in standing up for religious coexistence and for the celebration of what we all can learn from people of varied faiths.
Please Spread
אור חדש
   Return to Daylight 
Defending and Restoring Liberty Under Siege

Robin Braverman
Joel Siegel
Project Coordinators

Sunday, September 05, 2010

OMG Y'all... White Nationalist Group To Protest 'Machete' Movie With Machetes This Weekend

via The Snitch

A group of white nationalists will protest the new Robert Rodriguez movie Machete -- which depicts a Mexican renegade attempting to assassinate an anti-immigrant senator played by Robert DeNiro -- at Bay Area cinemas this week. This gets even more interesting: The protesters will show up "armed" with machetes. Jessica Alba and Lindsay Lohan, beware.

Frequent readers of this site may recall the Bay Area National Anarchists -- BANA for short -- the white nationalist group that showed up at the May Day immigration reform rally at Civic Center Plaza to instead show support of the Arizona "papers please" SB 1070 immigration law. BANA founder Andrew Yeoman and two other members were allegedly beaten while leaving the rally by black bloc anarchists, two of whom are now charged withmisdemeanor assault.

BANA is also known for showing up to protest the Folsom Street Fair. But they will be doing a warmup act from Friday to Sunday at movie theaters showing the slasher film in the city, North Bay and East Bay, Yeoman says, "along with like-minded individuals and grassroots organizations nationwide." He even started a Facebook page to promote the protest.

I remember being intrigued by this movie when I saw a trailer. This kind of response honestly only makes me want to see it more, and promote the shit out of it. Anything that pisses white supremacists off this much must have something going for it, right?

But let's be honest, it's also a little scary, right?  I mean what's with the weapons becoming more and more common place at protests like this one?  In this climate, it's a bit, unnerving.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Bay Area Event: Escuela de la gente/People Skool

via POOR Magazine:

"Escuela de la gente/PeopleSkool @ the Race, Poverty Media Justice Institute Begins!

Orientation/Registration, Tuesday, Sept 7th

Classes begin Tuesday, September 14th- @ POOR Magazine- 2940 16th St #301 SF. Ca 94103- 1 blk below 16th st BART station

All Classes Taught in English and Spanish

Register by September 1 – Late Registration: First day of classes

Tuition on a sliding scale. Scholarships available from the Po’ Skolaz Fund

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

AOL Sessions

"Letterbomb" as performed by the cast of "American Idiot"

Gives me chills.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fellow Alameda County Folks!

I'm calling your attention to someone running in our upcoming elections, the post below is reblogged from: TransGriot

Victoria Kolakowski Birthday Bash And Fundraiser August 29:
TransGriot Note: Victoria Kolakowski is another one of our groundbreaking trans candidates during this 2010 election cycle. In addition to celebrating her birthday, (Happy Birthday Vicky!) she is vying to become the first trans person to be elected to a trial court judgeship.

She running for Superior Court judge in Alameda County, and has a long list of endorsements and support from organizations in the Bay Area and the state of California from people such as California state senator Mark Leno and California state Rep. Tom Ammiano as we get closer to election day.


The Kolakowski for Judge Birthday Bash & Fundraiser is this Sunday!

Here are the details:

Sunday, August 29th from 5-7pm
Home of Geoff Kors and James Williamson
San Francisco, CA
Location of private residence will be provided after ticket purchase or RSVP by email.

Requested Donation $100.

To purchase tickets online, please visit:

To RSVP, please call me at (510) 465-2988 or e-mail