Okay so I don’t talk about my school a lot here and there’s a reason for that, I have an academic blog and there are some people that follow me here that are my classmates, and overall, it’s such a big part of my life I like taking a little break from it now and then to post about something else. But I have a story for you.
Last year my college opened submissions for a mascot, since we’re a small and fairly young school and for whatever reason never had that— and to give you a rough idea, this is a school that demands 80 hour weeks pretty consistently for successful graduation from the four-year program. It’s the kind of place that also gently coaches you that this is an experience you should be content with, both in your education and in the industry. (I’m not talking crunches, I’m talking 80 hours of work a week. Every week. To be considered enrolled full-time.) So by the time year three comes around, we’re all more than a little jaded, sort of reduced to the kind of creatures you’d normally find living under bridges or in dark musky holes. Really just, an awful place to look if emotionally sound individuals are what you’re looking for.
So once submissions opened up for suggestions they got basically the kind of sincerity you would expect; “a deer with a chainsaw on it’s head.” There’s a promotional video and a facebook group and everything.
The school, quite reasonably, was like “no, of course not, we’re not doing that” and ended up going with a dragon. (Definitely not as cool.) So now, they open up design submissions this semester presumably hoping to tempt the BFA program (the most overworked of all) into drawing something for them. The results?
I wish I could tell you anybody is actually drawing dragons in due sincerity. It’s mostly just more deers. With chainsaws on their heads.
“Look, without our stories, without the true nature and reality of who we are as People of Color, nothing about fanboy or fangirl culture would make sense. What I mean by that is: if it wasn’t for race, X-Men doesn’t sense. If it wasn’t for the history of breeding human beings in the New World through chattel slavery, Dune doesn’t make sense. If it wasn’t for the history of colonialism and imperialism, Star Wars doesn’t make sense. If it wasn’t for the extermination of so many Indigenous First Nations, most of what we call science fiction’s contact stories doesn’t make sense. Without us as the secret sauce, none of this works, and it is about time that we understood that we are the Force that holds the Star Wars universe together. We’re the Prime Directive that makes Star Trek possible, yeah. In the Green Lantern Corps, we are the oath. We are all of these things—erased, and yet without us—we are essential.” — Junot DíazEver since I saw this quote I’ve been thinking about my favorite fantasy franchises like Star Wars, and how they function in entirely white worlds while depending on racial tropes and stereotypes in order to build that world. For example, the Jedi Knights very clearly draw from Buddhist philosophies, and yet they are almost all played by white men.Another striking example though is the costuming of Padme, played by Natalie Portman, in the newer SW movies.For example:
This exquisite and elaborate regalia is based directly off off Mongolian royal attire, pictured below:
I mean they weren’t really trying to be subtle about it. They just assumed, as most white people do, that nobody watching Star Wars would care or know enough about Asian cultures to notice.
This exquisite hairstyle is also borrowed from a POC culture, specifically an NDN one.
The above image is titled simply “Hopi Girl” and was taken by a white male photographer named Edward S. Curtis who obviously didn’t care to differentiate his subjects with names. The Hopi nation is based in the Southwestern United States.